Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Forget Catholic Guilt...Infertility Guilt is Much Worse!

After thousands of my hard-earned dollars have gone to helping science to find the "cure" for my infertility, I find myself looking for ways that I can help, too. My husband gives up all alcohol (yes, even ale) and caffeine for the weeks leading up to our IUI appointments. I gave up running and caffeine (I miss you, Coke) permanently.

That's not to say that I don't relapse now and then. Today, I had a delicious piece of dark chocolate. I know it's laden with caffeine, which is not necessarily a fertility aid, but I don't care! I wanted it so badly and it called for me from its hiding place up on the top shelf. Don't get me wrong, I know in my mind that this tiny piece of cocoa goodness is not going to be the reason for my IUI not working. Nevertheless, since I have spent so much time training myself to let go of these indulgences, when I give in - I FEEL guilty! "You idiot," I tell myself, "you can't even give up a few non-nutritional snacks and beverages so that you can finally force your body into being SO healthy that it absolutely must become pregnant. For shame, woman, for shame." The guilt alone is enough to put me off chocolate for another week. Or at least a day. Or until my husband has his nightly bowl of ice cream. I'm no match for that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Infertility Sucks, But Hiking Is FUN!

You know what hurts the most about not having kids? It's thinking that everyone else is part of a very cool club called "Motherhood", and you can't do half of what they do because you don't have the golden ticket - a kid. Well, you know what? There's a new club in town - it's called the "I get all my sleep and can go anywhere on a whim because I don't have to find a sitter" Club. That's right - only women without kids can join. And you know what we're going to do? Whatever the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks we want to! Because that's what you get to do when you don't have the financial and time restrictions that mommies do. I can pick up at the drop of a hat (as long as it's during summer or a break from school) and travel the world. I can run off to Seattle or Miami or San Diego as often as my pocketbook will allow. ( As long as I don't have an IUI scheduled that week, that is.)

I think it's time to stop dwelling on what we can't do, and start focusing on what we can do. I for one am tired of seeing all those pictures on Facebook that feature women doing things that I simply can't - running stroller races or attending Mommy-and-Me classes with their bundles of joy. There are so many things that I can do that they can't, and I need to start focusing on those things. I'm going to start a club, dammit. We're not just going to blog about our feelings and cry on each other's shoulders (though if the need arisis, that will be a scheduled activity) - we're going to DO things, see places, and celebrate the fact that we are young, healthy, vibrant individuals who have a lot to see in this wide world. (Besides, all this traveling and experiencing will just make us better moms in the long run.) It's going to start this week, and it's not going to stop. If nature won't give us what we want, we'll take from it what we will.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What to Expect When You're Not Expecting Much

Gulp. Here goes. We're going in for IUI #3. After whining about completing a procedure too early (thanks to bad weekend timing), we're doing it on CD 15. Is that too late? Did I already ovulate? Have those tiny twinges in my lower abdomen been good signs or bad signs? So many questions…no answers, just hope.

There doesn't seem to be any reason why I haven't fallen pregnant naturally. There's also no identifiable reason why the previous IUI's haven't worked. So, I don't really see any reason why this one should, either. It's not that I've lost hope - it's still perching patiently in my soul like Emily Dickinson said it would - but I have certainly set my expectations lower this time. I expect this not to work. I expect to endure the 2WW as I normally do. I expect not to feel swollen, get morning sickness, or see spotting. I expect to tell my parents that the third time was not, contrary to popular belief, a charm. I certainly do not expect to see two blue lines on a white stick on day 30. What do I expect? To keep my head up, take the next step, and continue on my journey to motherhood.

At the very least, I get to have the day of with my hubby. And Panera bread and soup. It's that good. Seriously.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

There's Something About Air and Sky...

"I was crushed; I went into the back yard underneath the sky and fought it out with myself. Somehow air and sky help me to control myself; I guess they bring to me the fact that after all in the big scheme I don't count much. Anyway, Nature comforts me and helps me to say, like Lincoln, 'This, too, shall pass away.'"
-Anne Ellis, Plain Anne Ellis: More About the Life of an Ordinary Woman

Since I've all but given up on running (once a fellow pregnancy-challenged friend suggests ditching something in order to beat the odds, I pretty much do it, whatever it is), I've taken up hill climbing. I know, I know, but I walk! I figure it's the jarring of feet hitting pavement that is the culprit, not the heart rate… I like to climb a hill near my house, which offers a view of the entire town. It's an amazing sight, and makes me feel very small. Sometimes I think we need that - to feel like the minute and un-integral part of life that we are. Our problems are very seldom unique, and even more seldom as dire as we like to think they are. Anne Ellis, my new hero, summed up my feelings pretty well in a passage from her second book: Plain Anne Ellis. This is a woman who lived in the San Luis Valley at the turn of the century with five kids and $.40 to live on a day. No husband. No job. No problem. I highly recommend reading this book if you feel like life is the smallest bit difficult.

Go outside, take in the air, the sights, and the endless opportunity that life affords. Even if the problem isn't neatly solved or dismissed, it will pass. You will find a way, forge a new path, and live to the fullest.(Though I'm pretty sure that Mr. Lincoln NEVER had to deal with infertility, so that sort of nullifies his stance on time healing wounds.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Husband is Smarter Than Your Husband

Well, at least my husband would get an A+ on a female anatomy and reproduction quiz. You know you're trying to conceive (TTC) when your better half knows more about 'girl parts' than most women do. My husband no longer makes jokes about "that time of the month", but rather notes that, "because [my] Basal Body Temperature stayed up for over two weeks, that's a good sign that the first doctor was wrong about a Luteal Phase Disorder." Dang. Home boy knows his stuff. He reminds me to take certain pills, knows what they're for, and even asks me about the finer points of ovulation. Infertility make take away your physical ability to have kids, but if knowledge is power, my husband is a Reproductive Superhero. You go, boy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's the Little Things (like an 8.7 Uterine Lining and Three Healthy Follicles) That Make Life Grand

It's amazing what you consider to be "great" when you're infertile. All those drugs, all those shots, and you start to feel like there's something so wrong with you that you should have a second head or a large bleeding wound somewhere. In reality, there's nothing noticeable about you that screams "my reproductive tract is broken!", and your disappointment in yourself is very internalized. So when you go to your RE for the fourth time this month and she tells you that you have a very "pretty" uterine lining, or a "lovely little follicle" growing in your ovary, you take it as a supreme compliment. You've been working damn hard on those follicles! Every day it's a new pill or suppository…nobody tells you that you did a great job remembering to take all your pills while giving a make-up spelling test at lunch. No one pats you on the back because you gave yourself a shot in the belly before bedtime. You just suck it up and do what you need to do. Your only reward is hope. You don't really need anyone to tell you that you're doing a bang-up job and that you're a brave little soldier. But, it's nice to hear it once in a while.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just Keep Swimming...

I was reading a book the other day (The Godmother, by Carrie Adams) which deals a lot with fertility issues in a fictional setting. At one point, the main character comments on all the detritus that her friend has collected over the years as a result of her non-child-related hobbies, meant to keep her mind off of not being a mother. All of her crafts, however, just end up being reminiscent of pregnancy or child-rearing. She simply could not keep her mind off of what it truly wanted - to be a mom.

Sometimes, especially in the summer, I need something to focus on besides infertility. While talking about / blogging about my emotional state seems to keep my meltdowns at bay, it can't be the center of all my attentions. I think about the character in "Finding Nemo" who says: "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." So, I have my one time-consuming hobby - jewelry - that I can always fall headfirst into. It's one of those hobbies that requires your full attention. Since I make my jewelry by hand, creating a new necklace or pendant seems to fit the bill. Even when I don't want to spend the energy creating something, I have "busy-work" that I can set myself to, like making charms or putting chain together. When I feel myself beginning to notice the stillness in the house or the emptiness of my time, I start swimming…creating something, doing something, being something. It's better than nothing. (Plus, the proceeds of my sales offset the cost of all those fun fertility drugs! Bonus!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Official: Nature Hates Me

Grrrr! Why is it that when you need your cycle to start on a certain day, it doesn't? For the last few months, my cycle has begun at a most inopportune time. It puts my ovulation date on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. (Normally, you'd think , "Cool, weekend lovin'!" But when you're having plastic-syringe-lovin', it needs to happen on a weekday.) Now, I know even those of you who don't have to see a specialist three times a month can appreciate this: Doctors do not work on weekends. I am frustrated with my doctor, who seems to think that a day 10 or 11 IUI will be just fine. This is $1,200 of my hard-earned money going down the tubes if the timing is all wrong, lady! I'd rather just say "forget this month" and skip the expensive stuff, but she seems to think we can cram it all in. I have to keep reminding myself: "She is a professional, Ashlee, and is highly qualified to make these decisions." I guess I’m still suspicious thanks to the first evil doctor who prescribed drugs and tests willy-nilly.

My body doesn't seem to like being on anyone's so-called 'timeline.' I think that's self-evident. Here's crossing the fingers one more time…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day in Infertilityland

I guess I never really paid any attention to infertility before I was afflicted with it. I guess most people don't. We spend years on "the pill" trying not to get ourselves into trouble and generally believe that bearing children at some point is a given. That's why I find it relieving when the mainstream media decides to tackle infertility.

Yesterday, the Denver Post printed an article about a man (yes, infertility affects them, too) who, together with his wife, went through years of infertility treatment in order to become a father. Adjacent to that article was a brief question-and-answer with a fertility specialist, who cleared up some very common misconceptions. I appreciated that. As much as I love my father and mother, the days spent celebrating Fatherhood and Motherhood have taken on a very subtle hue of disappointment. I no longer want to celebrate simply having a mother, but being one as well. The same goes for fatherhood. I would love to give my husband his first Father's Day card sometime soon. I long to say the words, "Go ask Daddy...".

I posted the link on my Facebook site, thinking that it's about time I was able to share some information about my condition with the outside world. Hey, if I have to hear about kidney stones and broken ankles, everyone else can learn a little bit about my own brand of boo-boo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It took my cherry tree three years to bear fruit. (Is it sad that that's uplifting?)

It's been three years since we planted our little cherry tree in the front yard. In year one, it simply sat there and got used to being in the ground. That was okay. In year two, it shot up about three feet and seemed to be acclimated to living in the ground. That was encouraging. Year three brought just a handful of cherries, which didn't really ripen and fell victim to ravenous chickadees. We weren't surprised. This year, we weathered the spring and watched hundreds of little, green cherries ripen and turn yellow and red. We were ecstatic! We hadn't expected much from the leafy newcomber to our front yard, and its yield was well worht the wait.

It wasn't even a case of being patient, because we didn't really know that the tree was going to produce at all. That's what I'm hoping my body is going to do - give me a fantastic surprise. I've come to terms with our other options and am constantly looking forward. Nevertheless, a part of me is always wondering if the impossible is possible. It's been nearly three years, so I figure that if my body is on the same natural timeline as a fruit tree…it shouldn't be long now.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Let's Get Trivial, Trivial...I Wanna Get Trivial

Yesterday, as I was eating lunch after my oh-so-uplifting doctor's appointment, I overheard a pair of gentlemen discussing a recent property acquisition. (Don't judge me, they were exceptionally loud. I think they were from Texas.) As one man complained about an ambiguous property line, the other attempted to console him by suggesting a call to the local authorities and a visit to small claims court. As far as I could tell, they were talking about a few paltry feet. All their complaining, all of their strife, and all of their time was wasted on the pursuit of a square yard of dirt. Luckily, Panera's broccoli cheese soup and fresh baguette combo is one of my favorite things in the world and puts me in a state of otherworldly euphoria, so I didn't do what I know my mind (in the recesses not affected by the soup) wanted me to do.

I wanted to march over there and say: "Listen, mister. I know that right now you feel cheated and wronged, that the world has somehow overlooked your unquestionable good deeds and righteous behavior in every aspect of life on earth, but I want to tell you something. Your problem is petty. It is simply not worth your efforts, your ignorance of the beauty that is going on around you, your precious time, to spend this day polluting the ears of people around you with your harsh words and abrasive tone. While you have been worrying about a lack of land, I am slowly dealing with the possibility that I may never bear children of my own. Your problem is trivial. Get over it. Also, please know that the people over at Ann Taylor can probably hear you."

Most problems are trivial, in fact. I just learned that I'm going to be faced with a major change at work. You know what? It seems trivial. No worries. My only worry in this world? That everyone else is being invited to a party called motherhood, and my invitation got lost in the mail.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Room of Bad News

There's a little room in the very back of my RE's office that I like to call "The Room of Bad News." Back here is where they take you when you're not there to do anything really productive (like have blood work done or have a plastic syringe inserted into your, ahem), just have a talk. It's like a time-out session when you haven't even done anything wrong. "I'm sorry you have to come back here again," my RE sadly proclaimed as she shut the door behind me. Even SHE knows that the room strikes fear into every patient's heart. Today I was back in the Room of Bad News because the last IUI session (the second one) was a resounding failure. She reassures me that if IUIs work, they usually take between 3-4 cycles, so it's still worth trying another one. I'm not so sure. The last one was textbook perfect conditions - excellent sample, lining, the works! As my RE put it: "If it didn't happen then, I don't know why it would any other time." Oh, the support is just overwhelming in the Room. Unfortunately, the next step in the inseminafun (you see how I did that? I made my own portmanteau out of insemination and fun) is another drug that requires bi-daily checkups, and since I'm going to be off gallivanting around the globe over the next two months, I can't do that. So, there will be no moving forward in the fight against babylessness until after summertime is over. Sigh. Another sigh. And another.

All the waiting, all the drugs, all the money, all the organic fruit products…all for naught. I am trying so hard not to give up hope, but hope just doesn't seem to be making itself very available. I think there's a Hope vacuum in the Room of Bad News. Somebody should have that checked out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Resistance is Futile

At one point, I distinctly remember saying that I "wasn't ready to be the 'cool aunt' just yet". In saying this, I was expressing my juvenile penchant for jealousy and bitterness. If I can't have it, I don't want anyone else to, either. And then, the other day, my little niece and nephew came over. Somehow, everything changes when you have a six-year-old standing right in front of you. You're not bitter, you're not angry, you're just 'Aunt Ashlee'. As I sat down with my niece to draw a few pictures, we settled into an artistic collaboration. I drew roses, she colored them in, and our masterpiece was finally decorated with all sorts of butterflies, hearts, and words with backwards letters. Watching her sound out the words and diligently put them down on paper was endearing, to say the least. Being with the two of them reminded me why I ever wanted kids in the first place - they bring something so wonderful and peaceful t o your life. The pride they take in a drawing , the way they echo their big sister's every word, the hugs that are more genuine than any we adults seem to give…it's the magic of youth and innocence. So even if the little arms wrapped around my neck did not come from my own flesh and blood, they are delicate, loving, little arms nonetheless, and my day was brighter for having them in it.

While I may still shy away from baby showers, it's the kids I can't resist, and I will say farewell to any bitterness that keeps me from enjoying the subtle smiles, gentle cooing, and infectious giggles that only kids can bestow. And I'll treasure the "Book of Roses" hanging proudly on my refrigerator door, because that's what cool aunts do.