Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First year re-cap

I completely missed my first blogoversary on March 3rd and didn't even realize it until recently. In the year that I've been writing this blog, I've been fortunate to "meet" a lot of other women who are going through, or have gone through, similar experiences and emotions. The feeling of community has been extremely helpful to me during what has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life, and I have very much appreciated the support I've gained through others' leaving comments here and everything I have learned through reading about others' experiences.

Prior to today's post, I had posted 180 separate entries on this blog. Some of those were short, like those simply communicating the results of a HPT. Others were long and heartfelt, some of those written through tears. I have used this blog as a way to chronicle our journey, vent, get input from others, and as a form of therapy.

Realizing that I have been writing on here for over a year prompted me to look back at the content on this blog. Not so much what I have written--that is mostly still fresh in my mind--but at what others have written, at who those commenters were/are, and what has happened with them since they visited my blog. I'm a sucker for numbers, so as I was following up on what has happened with the visitors to my blog (at least the ones who left comments), I decided to tally where they are now.

A total of 128 distinct commenters left comments on my blog since its inception. (Excluding people who are my friends apart from the online ALI community to whom I gave this website address and leaving out commenters who were spammers or attempting to sell me something.) Some of these commenters (who were all women except two) made only a single visit, often through ICLW. More of them commented multiple times.

Three of the ladies who left comments here commented for the first time when they were already pregnant. All three were women who struggled to achieve their pregnancies and are a part of the ALI community.

Of the other 125, I could not tell whether 23 of the commenters was, or ever had been, TTC because they either left no information in the comment, did not link to a blog, or linked to a blog that talked about something other than TTC, with no references to TTC or IF.

That means that there were 102 commenters on this blog who I know for sure visited while they were actively TTC. The majority of these were TTC their first child, but there were a number of commenters who were facing secondary infertility.

In visiting the blogs of my commenters, I learned that 20 of the women who commented here have given up on TTC, either for an indefinite/extended break or for good. Of those 20, seven had at least one child (or more) already, and 13 are currently childless.

Five of the commenters have since adopted a child. Another commenter used surrogacy, and her surrogate is currently pregnant.

19 of the commenters have conceived and given birth since first coming to this blog; obviously these folks commented in the first few months after I started the blog. Another 20 are currently pregnant. (I guess this means I can say there is an 38.2% chance of getting pregnant and having a baby if you comment on my blog. Hey, who knows? It couldn't hurt. . . . )

37 of my commenters are still actively TTC. Many of these women have already been through more than I can imagine myself doing to have a baby. There have been miscarriages and failed fertility treatments. A few of these women have not yet been TTC as long as I have.

I love the term "silent sorority" that Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos used as the title of her book, because it sums up very well the tie that binds us all. Had it not been for the unwelcome experience of infertility, I never would have met any of the people who have commented on this blog. In some cases, we probably have little in common except the struggle to become parents. . . and yet how we can empathize with one another because of that common experience.

Truth be told, when I started this blog over a year ago, I never thought I'd be where I am today: still childless and not even actively TTC any more. Working on resigning myself to living chil.dless rather than planning a different future. Yet here I am.

Thanks to all of you who have visited and commented for walking part of this lonely path with me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not on the same page

AF arrived yesterday. As usual (for me), the arrival of my period was preceded by some spotting and cramps. This month, these started while I was out to dinner with my mother and my BFF on Saturday night (joy). Saturday was only CD 25 for me, so the cycle I just finished was about two days shorter than my usual cycle length. It's always a bummer when your period arrives, and an even bigger bummer when it arrives ahead of schedule. Although I suppose the one good thing about getting my period early is that there's no opportunity for false hope to develop because it's "late," like it did the cycle before.

Aside from the usual discomforts of getting my period and the familiar feeling of "yep, not pregnant again," I didn't experience too many feelings about AF's arrival. My husband, on the other hand, was quite upset when I had to tell him about it. . . . which I thought was a little surprising. After all, how many other times has he heard this "news"?

While we were on a 2+-hour car trip yesterday, I asked him why he was so upset. When his response was "I just can't believe another month has passed without you getting pregnant," I was, again, surprised. I had to ask whether he seriously entertains hope that a pregnancy is going to happen for us, in the usual, everyday fashion, after all this time. I mean, you would think that after nearly two years of TTC, including several months with fertility drugs, and seeing only one-ever BFP that was diagnosed as a chemical pregnancy less than 48 hours later, he would realize and be resigned to the fact (as I am, at least 99.5%) that a pregnancy is really, really unlikely to happen to us. But apparently he doesn't view our situation the way I do.

In my (mostly) logical mind, I know that at this point, the odds of our ever conceiving at all, let alone without medical intervention, are very slim. No, it's not impossible. . . . but it's so close to impossible that pinning any hopes at all on the idea of it happening would be just about as silly as quitting my job because I just KNOW I'm going to win the next Powe.rba.ll drawing. Because I know this, I am more inconvenienced than disappointed with the arrival of my period every cycle. I think as long as I am still getting periods, there will always be a small flicker of disappointment. . . but nothing like what I experienced each month back when I still had hope and really thought I would eventually get pregnant.

It perplexes me that MM is still optimistic about the possibility of my getting pregnant after all the (wasted) effort we have expended. In the main, he is by no means an optimistic person. In fact, as a general rule, while neither of us is a true optimist, I would say that I am far more likely to expect a positive outcome in a given situation than he is. Except, apparently, when it comes to TTC.

Oh, and on a related note: I thought MM and I had agreed in December that we were no longer actively TTC. (I wrote about it here.) We agreed that we were tired of wasting our time, effort and money on treatments and that we had already done as much as we felt we could reasonably do on the TTC front. And yet, over three months after that heart-to-heart talk, my husband is in a funk because I'm not pregnant at the end of yet another cycle. . . . a cycle of TTC naturally, no less!

Clearly, MM and I are not on the same page. Which is odd because, though we hardly agree on everything--who does?--we are usually pretty good about communicating and being in the same place in relation to any longer-term goals.

For a while, I have viewed MM as being just a few months behind me in the grieving process about our inability to have a child of our own, but now I am beginning to wonder if he isn't stalled entirely. He is probably angrier now about our childlessness than he was six months ago, while I, on the other hand, am trending toward becoming more resigned as time passes. Sure, I still have my moments or days when it's hard, but by and large, I am coming to terms with the idea that I'll never be a parent. I don't think that MM is.

Not sure what, if anything, to do about this. Should I just let him have his hope each month, as futile as I believe that is? We are both sick to death of talking about anything related to TTC and our inability to get pregnant, so I don't really want to have another heart-to-heart or suggest counseling. MM doesn't have the patience for reading any non-fiction books, so I'm sure suggesting a book for him to read is not the answer.

Maybe I should just be OK with the fact that, at least for now, we are not on the same page. Nowhere is it written that we must be in agreement about absolutely everything, and his grieving process is his alone. . . . related to mine but also separate.

I don't know.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Turning 39

MM and I leave tomorrow morning for a 4-day trip to Las Vegas. The trip is serving multiple purposes: allowing MM to place some bets on the NCAA basketball tournament at the sports book, relaxation for both of us, and celebrating my 39th birthday on Sunday.

I've had several friends tell me how hard they found turning 30 or 40, but for me, the most difficult birthday I've had so far was 29. 29 was hard for me because ever since I was a teenager, I had had certain goals in my mind that I had hoped to achieve by 30. None of those goals was likely to be accomplished in a year, and so it became clear to me on my 29th birthday that I was more likely than not going to fail to reach those cherished goals.

My goals by 30? Probably nothing too out of the ordinary:

1) Have a career I loved.
2) Be married.
3) Have at least one child.

On my 29th and 30th birthdays, I was 0 for 3. I was in the midst of changing careers, still single and childless.

As my 39th birthday approaches, with 40 now on the horizon, I am 2 for 3. I am married to a wonderful man, and I love my career (though my specific job has its on and off days). I have enjoyed my 30s tremendously and feel I have grown a lot in the past ten years. I am more content and more confident than I've ever been.

Honestly, the only reason I dread 40 is the grim reports I read about the improbability of conceiving after 40. But hey, let's be honest: I've been TTC since I was just-turned-37 and have not had any greater success in this department. 40 is just a number.

So this weekend, I will drink a (figurative) toast to my last year in my 30s, which have been--as a close friend promised they would be--my best decade yet. I will celebrate with pasta and chocolate cake rather than alcohol, simply because carbs are my preferred indulgence and I no longer drink alcohol. I will enjoy relaxing by the pool and seeing an awesome Cirque du Soleil show.

And I will not think about my elderly eggs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Even before I was TTC myself, I often had conflicted feelings about childless couples. (By "childless couples," I mean couples who I knew had been married a while, were close to/over 30 and seemed to be settled in their lives and had not had children. If a couple was unmarried, young, or still in school or getting started in a career, or their marriage was on the rocks, I just assumed they weren't yet at a point where they'd begun thinking about the kids issue or that they wanted children but were waiting for a more appropriate time to have them.)

I say "conflicted" feelings because I seesawed back and forth between two viewpoints. On the one hand, I believe that parenthood is something which no one should undertake if s/he don't truly want to be a parent. From all I've heard and observed from those with children, parenthood can be really difficult even for those who genuinely desire a child. It's just hard work and, like anything else in life that requires a huge commitment of time and energy, it probably shouldn't be done by people who are not sure they want to do it.

On the other hand, I have often had the (probably unfair) view that people who choose not to have children are, more likely than not, selfish. Aside from the rare person who chooses not to parent due to coming from a highly dysfunctional background or because of serious health issues, it seems that the reasons cited by most for living "child-free" seem to center around a desire to devote all their time to their own pursuits. I suppose that if someone chooses to live his/her life that way, I shouldn't think him/her selfish, but historically I have thought of voluntarily childless couples this way.

Interestingly, when I contemplated childless couples prior to TTC, rarely did I consider the possibility that the couple was unable to have children. I always figured the couples' childlessness was a conscious choice. Strange, but I suppose in line with my mistaken belief that achieving pregnancy is easy.

Recently the subject of childlessness came up at work with some people in the office who we'll call "fertiles," for lack of a better term. Aside from me, all those participating in the conversation have more than one child (ranging in age from 3 to 17), had no difficulties conceiving them--or indeed, timing their pregnancies for their convenience--and don't seem to have had any firsthand experience with infertility, either their own or that of a close family member/friend.

One of the fertiles (who has three sons) expressed the opinion that when he knows a couple without children, he assumes that they are childless by choice. It never crosses his mind that the couple might want children but be unable to have them. Others agreed.

My coworkers' comment, and the other fertiles' agreement, has given me food for thought. I certainly don't judge these fertiles harshly for their viewpoint because it was one I shared up until recently. But having now had the experience of being unable to have a child of my own, I recognize that the true reason behind a couple's childlessness may be something other than a desire to avoid the responsibilities and burdens of parenthood.

Given that I was 37 and MM was 35 when we married, I can certainly see how someone might conclude that we have chosen childlessness. It would seem, to outward appearances, that we waited so many years to "settle down" because marriage and family were perhaps not as important to us as they are to others. (That's not the case, but I can see how people might think it.) In fact, we have friends, a couple who are of similar ages to us who married two months before us, who did choose childlessness; they made a consciousness decision to devote themselves to pursuing their respective careers and traveling rather than being parents.

Thinking about this, I can't decide which is worse: people knowing that we desperately want a child and cannot have one, or people thinking that we are childless by choice. I don't know that I would want to be an object of pity for people with children, but I also don't want people thinking (wrongly) that MM and I have chosen not to have children so that we can continue living the same self-centered lives we always have.

I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts about couples they know who are childless and what assumptions, if any, you've made about why they aren't parents.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ups & Downs

Over three months after making the decision to stop using medical intervention to try to get pregnant, I find that I am having more good days than bad days. Occasionally I think about the fact that it is highly likely that I will never be a parent, but for the most part, I just live my life and enjoy it. I think much, much less about my inability to have a child now that I am not actively doing much about it. It seems a little contradictory; you might think that taking positive action would have made me feel better about our predicament, but I found that it did not.

Sure, there are things that come up that make me bitter and angry. . . . like hearing that my step-sister's 20-year-old son has fathered a child with his on again/off again girlfriend, or that a second cousin is pregnant with her second child in two years when I know she didn't plan either pregnancy. But truth be told, hearing about the unplanned pregnancies of people with little education, no career path and limited parenting skills has always chapped my hide, long before I was ever TTC or knew that I was unable to have a child of my own. And I have actually gotten better (for the most part) about accepting others' pregnancy announcements with aplomb.

I find that I do better if I focus on the present. In the present, today, I am happy with my life and with my relationships. I have a job I enjoy and the freedom to travel and sleep in on weekends. Sure, little-to-nothing that I'm doing is going to have much lasting effect on the world around me, but I am OK with that. I am even able to spend time with my toddler godson, my 3-year-old nephew and other small children without feeling sad about the fact that I will likely never experience motherhood myself.

If I think ahead, though, even a year or two in the future, the sadness and regret and anger can creep in. I never thought I'd be moving into middle age without being a mother, particularly a middle-aged MARRIED woman with no children. (I had entertained the slim possibility that I would remain childless because I had never married.) As I am turning 39 on Sunday and am still not pregnant, after 23 months of TTC, I will soon be entering a future I had never envisioned.

Oh well. Honestly, very little in my life has turned out the way I thought it would when I was a teenager and young adult. So living a life I had not anticipated should come as no surprise to me.

Still, I have found giving up the dream of having a child of my own much more difficult than some of my other unrealized expectations about my life. I am not entirely sure whether this is because becoming a mother is such a strong biological drive, in addition to being a desired psychological, emotional, and social experience, or whether it's because I wanted this particular thing so much more than most of the other things in my life which I have thus far not attained.

As in all things, I try to think logically about our childlessness, and most of the time, I succeed. But I have found it much, much harder to put emotionality aside with respect to this disappointment than others I have experienced. As someone with a reputation among friends and family for calm rationality about even the most emotional of experiences (I'm the person who is comforting others at a family member's funeral or coolly driving a bleeding friend to the ER), the emotions I have experienced as a result of our infertility have been an unusual experience for me.

So that's where I'm at. 85% of the time, I believe I am making progress toward resigning myself to a life without children. It's usually the other 15% that makes its way into a post on this blog.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Last chance

After visiting a handy-dandy due date calculator today to figure out when a pregnant friend likely conceived, I punched in the date for my current cycle and realized that this cycle is our last chance to have a baby born in 2010. Clearly I am spending too much time on the internet again.

I guess I shouldn't start thinking about how this also means that we only have this cycle and perhaps three others to get pregnant and still have a baby before I'm 40. . . . .

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today is sunny in the sense that our weather is sunny, but I live in Phoenix, where it's sunny about 300 days of the year. My mood today is also sunny, for reasons that are not altogether clear to me. Yes, I had a fun and relaxing weekend and spent the day out of the office at depositions, which was a nice break from the constant in-the-office grind of the past two weeks, but I've had many other days that were equally good objectively which did not put me in as good a mood. Yes, I have a four-day trip to Vegas with my husband coming up this weekend, along with my birthday, but we take frequent trips, and contemplation of them does not always lift my mood. Hmmm. Oh well, I'll take it.

As he did last month, MM wanted me to use OPKs this month to pinpoint my ovulation. I personally don't think that this is indicated for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that my cycles are pretty regular and I nearly always ovulate between CD 13 and CD 16 (with an occasional stray CD 18 in the mix). Lack of ovulation is not my fertility problem. Actually, I don't know precisely what my fertility problem is (*cough--old eggs--cough*), but it's not irregular cycles.

Nevertheless, I started them on CD10, which was last Friday, and I got a positive one this morning, CD 13. CD 13 is about the time I would generally expect a + OPK, though I have occasionally gotten one a little earlier or a little later.

So now, despite the fact that my mother is visiting, we will be "getting busy" tonight and tomorrow night to make sure our bases are covered. Actually, MM is probably happy to have a guarantee of three-days-in-a-row sex--we did it yesterday, also, coincidentally--because with his MIL visiting, it's been less frequent than usual.

In some ways, I wish MM would just give up the hope that we will ever conceive naturally. If he did, I could, too. As it is, it occasionally creeps in at the end of cycles. But so long as I am not having to chart or use fertility drugs and all he is asking is that I POAS a few times each month, I suppose I can't really complain.

I am often writing here about how I am bothered by finding out that friends and acquaintances (or their wives) are pregnant or have had a baby. For a change, I learned of a friend's pregnancy over the weekend which actually made me very happy.

Back in June, I wrote about my friend L at this end of this post. For those who did not read that post, shortly after I wrote it, L prematurely delivered a baby girl with multiple genetic abnormalities who lived only hours after her birth. On Friday, I saw a mobile-uploaded photo of L on a mutual friend's Fac.ebo.ok page which had been taken that day and showed L looking obviously pregnant. I emailed L to ask about it, and she apologized for not telling me earlier; she'd planned on waiting to spread the news, but her belly gave it away early. She is, in fact, pregnant, with another girl, and due on May 27 .

Doing some quick math, I figure she must have gotten pregnant the first cycle or two after her loss. (I suppose that tells something about her fertility; clearly TTC is not a problem for them. ) I am happy for her and praying that all goes well with this pregnancy. L and her husband are such great people and wonderful parents to the 2-year-old son they already have. I can't imagine how she must be feeling to be pregnant again so soon after such a difficult loss.

I have not shared L's news with MM because he still doesn't want to hear about someone else's pregnancy, delivery or baby. I know that in his line of work, he hears about plenty of pregnancies--he also has one pregnant coworker and one coworker shortly returning from maternity leave--so I will spare him the ones I can. L lives 100 miles away, and I see her only infrequently, so it doesn't directly impact MM that she is expecting. (I have been thinking about writing a separate post about my husband's difficulties dealing with our inability to conceive. Suffice it to say, he is still squarely in the "anger" phase of the grief process.)

P.S. Blogger Bluebird gave birth to her son last Friday. If you are inclined to look at some photos of a very cute baby, check out her post from earlier today.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I just wanted to write a quick post thanking all those who commented on my last post. One of the good things about going through this horrible experience of infertility has been getting to know (via the internet) some wonderful, supportive people. Somehow knowing that I'm not the only one enduring this makes it a little easier to bear. Thank you!

I have been plagued with a headache most of the last two days, along with the usual menstrual cramps, but otherwise have no complaints.

Oh, my mom arrived for a month-long visit yesterday and shared some lovely family news with me. My stepsister's son, who is 20 years old, is going to be a father. His on-again, off-again girlfriend (who is also 20) is pregnant and due in September. So it looks like my stepsister, who is less than five years older than I, is going to be a grandmother before I am ever a mother. Ugh. Oh well. She is just following in the footsteps of her/my cousin, who is five years, four months my senior and already has two grandsons.

The universe is so f$%#^d up when it comes to who has children and when and who does not. My nephew is by no means ready to be a father and isn't even currently in a relationship with his baby's mother. I can't imagine that either of them planned this. And yet here MM and I sit, both gainfully employed and mature, TTC for 23 months and nothing.

Aargh. Honestly, news like this is something that would have made me sad/angry even before I was TTC myself. . . . the fact that I am unable to have a child of my own just makes it all the more maddening.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Um, yeah, so

I wrote my last post yesterday evening and set it to publish first thing this morning.

Wouldn't you know it? A few hours after I wrote it, just before I went to bed, I had a little bit of spotting. When I woke up this morning, AF had arrived full-force, cramps and all.

See, I knew there was no reason to entertain hope, even for a brief moment, that I would get pregnant this cycle. Logic once again triumphs over emotion. What I knew intellectually was true.

At least the waiting and anticipation are over.

Tick tock

March 2nd was CD 29 for me. (It's sad that I actually know this, but I do.) At this point, I've lost track of the precise number of cycles that have passed since we started TTC. I know it is around 25, but I couldn't tell you if it's 24 or 27.

Normally my cycles are 27 days long. On one rare, hope-raising occasion in June 2008, I had a 32-day cycle, but for the most part, when my body is left to its own devices, AF always arrives for me on CD 27 or CD 28, depending on the time of day.

I mentioned that I did OPKs this cycle at my husband's request. . . . but I actually only used them on CDs 10-14 because I just used up the ones I had left at home, rather than buying a whole new box. I only had 5 OPKs, and I stopped testing once they were gone. I never got a positive OPK, and I usually do by CD 12 or CD 13. So it seems to me a pretty good bet that I either (1) ovulated late (which has happened more than once when I was charting), or (2) didn't ovulate at all (which did not happen in over a year of BBT charting).

I also usually get mild cramps and spotting 12-24 hours before my actual period arrives, and so far this month, nothing. Though to be fair, I have been taking Ex.ced.rin for a headache since about 4:15 this morning, so that could be masking any cramps I might otherwise be feeling.

I have been at this TTC game WAY too long to be feeling any optimism whatsoever about the fact that my period is late. My primary emotion about AF's failure to arrive on time is annoyance. I hate starting my period when I'm not anticipating it; it's more than a little inconvenient on a few levels.

It's possible that I could be pregnant on our own. After all, we are "unexplained," and according to our RE, I am "subfertile" rather than "infertile." MM and I had sex often enough this past cycle that we are almost certain to have done it during the pertinent time period. Obviously, we did not use contraception. It may be highly improbable, but it's not impossible.

I'm also annoyed that my late period has given rise to a teeny-tiny little glimmer of hope that I might actually (miracle of miracles!) be pregnant. At my age, after nearly two years of unsuccessful TTC, you would think that the intellectual realization of how unlikely it is that I would actually conceive naturally would override any such foolish hope. Hrmph.

Apart from AF's late arrival, life is good. I haven't been dwelling much on our inability to have a baby lately. (Though my husband's grieving process seems to be stuck in the angry/bitter phase. He got upset at the new iPhone commercial where the mom/user gets video of her baby's first steps and sends it to everyone. I can't tell him about anyone's pregnancy announcements or births anymore without his getting angry. Poor guy.) I have been focusing on other things, like my job, working on losing weight, projects at home, reading the books on my "to be read" pile, and preparing for my mother's upcoming month-long visit.

The fact that I am doing OK at the moment is another thing that makes my late period annoying. Can't I just have one month when I don't think about my infertility?!