Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conquering Infertility

Yesterday when I wasn't in bed with a migraine, I started reading this book. Much of the information in it is stuff I already know, but I am finding it an interesting read nonetheless.

One thing that interested me was her appendix on lifestyle changes. Everything else I have read indicates that regular, moderate exercise has no adverse effect on fertility and in fact, is recommended for optimal health. Dr. Domar (who is not a medical doctor) recommends taking a 3-month break from exercise, saying that for some women, infertility can be caused by even moderate exercise. She says you shouldn't do anything that will raise your heart rate over 110 beats per minute for three months.

I'm curious if anyone has tried this, or knows someone who has, and had success. I am by no means an exercise fanatic, but I do average 2-3 days a week of 30-minute cardio sessions. I am careful not raise my heart rate above 15o bpm in the two-week wait but have never held back on cardio at all pre-ovulation.

I'm not truly considering trying this exercise break, as I have not seen it recommended anywhere else. Also, my internal medicine doctor has told me that I need to be exercising 3-4 times a week for my cholesterol (which is high) and losing weight. So I have had specific advice to the contrary. I'm still interested in hearing whether there is any merit to this recommendation, though.

I am also wondering if perhaps I should wait a cycle or two before moving on to injections. I have read in a few places that injectible gonadotropins can be less effective in women with a BMI over 27. My BMI is over 30. While I don't think that I have the time it would take to get my BMI into a normal range--even losing at a rate of a pound a week, it would take months--perhaps losing 10-15 lbs before starting injections would be a good idea. Hmmm.

I am also starting to wonder whether counseling related to TTC might be a good idea for me. I think that I am coping pretty well with all of this stuff most of the time, but I do find myself distracted at work and often feel like a failure (at least in this area of my life). I have noticed that I have been more irritable of late, too (though that could well be related to medication side effects). I have definitely had a crisis of faith related to TTC, too, as has probably been apparent from some of my blog posts.

At 38, there is such a feeling that "time is of the essence" that I'm disinclined to not forge ahead. But if there would be a benefit to me in taking a break--and especially if it would mean greater odds of achieving pregnancy--perhaps I should consider it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Next level

After getting my BFN this morning, I called and left a message on my clinic's nurse line. Per our RE's instructions, I actually only have to call if I get a BFP; otherwise, I am supposed to just wait and call on CD 1. But because I anticipated doing a different treatment protocol next cycle (adding injections), I wanted to call early and make sure that everything will be ready for next cycle.

I heard back from the nurse in the mid-morning--which in and of itself was a surprise, given that I usually have to wait until the afternoon for a call back--and she told me that the doctor had not left instructions for our next level of medications. She has asked him to prepare a protocol for me and said she would call me back. She did say that he usually uses Clomid 50 mg along with Follistim as his standard IUI + injections protocol.

I am optimistic that by the time AF arrives, we will have a plan in place. The last cycle I used progesterone gel, it delayed my period, and it didn't arrive until five days after my BFN. So I figure I have a few days yet before I will need to be concerned.

At this point, I don't know how much the next treatment cycle will cost. This morning MM expressed his concern about how much this is starting to cost us (with no results), and we agreed that I would find out the exact cost and what portion insurance will cover prior to starting next cycle and that we will make a plan of how we will pay for it.

Oddly, I wasn't even sad at this morning's BFN. I expected it. I have reached a point where each new failure is met with a feeling of grim resignation rather than sadness. MM wasn't as sad as our last treatment cycle either, though he did say he felt frustrated. I really didn't feel much of anything except "oh, of course."

Neither of us is sure how long we want to keep doing this. I don't know how some couples pursue treatments for years and years, even doing multiple IVF cycles. We feel beaten down by just over a year of unsuccessful TTC. Still not sure we will ever go past IUI, and I think MM is moving more toward thinking of child-free living, too.

I'm glad I don't have to use that progesterone gel any more! Yuck!

Tested this morning

On to cycle #17.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Odd dream

This morning just before MM startled me awake (he'd set his radio alarm louder-than-expected and was startled himself), I was dreaming. In typical dream fashion, I don't remember all the details of the dream. In it, my mother and I were at a gathering among friends and family, though no one close to me. I can't even remember who else was in the dream besides Mom and me, but I had the impression that these were some distant relatives on my mom's side who I'd either not met before or not seen often.

Right before I was awakened, someone in the group got up to take a medication, and my mom "reminded" me to take my birth control pill. In the dream, I went off on her and was like "Don't you pay attention to me at all?! I've been taking fertility drugs for a couple of months and trying to GET pregnant for over a year!" Dream-Mom blithely told me that the pill would help me and that I should take it.

Not quite sure what THAT was about. It's true that I sometimes think my mom doesn't listen to the things I tell her about TTC. For example, when I started my first round of Clomid, she said "well, for all you know, you could be pregnant right now." Hmmm. I don't think so. Let's hope not, considering I am on a drug that is absolutely contraindicated for pregnant women! Grrr.

It's also true that my mom was the first person to suggest I "get on the pill" when I started college. So maybe a combination of those two things "inspired" the dream.

I think the dream does go to show that even though I don't believe I've been thinking much about the whole TTC thing this cycle, my subconscious is still thinking of it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crampy today

If I weren't using progesterone gel, I would be excited about the fact that I have been having a lot of cramps this morning. As it is, I have chalked them up to progesterone side effects.

I guess one benefit of the progesterone gel is that I no longer over-analyze every symptom I experience in the two-week wait and obsess over whether it could mean that I'm pregnant. Because basically every early pregnancy symptom could also be a progesterone side effect, I simply note what I'm feeling and move on.

I posted recently about my reasons and MM's reasons for not wanting to do IVF. My reasons have not changed, but I think that perhaps MM's feelings about this may be changing. He mentioned to me the other night at dinner that if our 6 IUIs are not successful, we "might have to think about doing something else, like using a surrogate." Huh? Not sure where that came from. And I actually don't think he means a surrogate; I think he means donor eggs (because that will theoretically increase the odds of success of an IVF cycle). He even said that he might consider adoption, which was way out of left field for him.

At this point, we have not discussed the matter further but have agreed to have another sit-down appointment with our RE if necessary in a few months. More on that topic once we have discussed it in more depth.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the two-week wait

I haven't been posting much because I haven't had much to share. As with the last cycle I used the progesterone gel, I have had some unpleasant side effects. The worst one is that I have little-to-no sex drive, and when we do have intercourse, the gel makes me very dry (sorry, TMI) and sex uncomfortable. I have also been moody/irritable and had some off-and-on lower abdominal cramping. Plus I had a migraine headache off and on most of the last three days, though to be fair, I get a lot of headaches a lot of the time and can't be sure that this one was related to drug side effects.

Honestly, the first half of this two-week wait has gone by fast for me. I have been exceptionally busy at work and had quite a few things going on outside the office as well. Among them, I had to drive 250 miles round-trip to visit my CASA child on Saturday, and Sunday was MM's parents' 40th wedding anniversary in addition to being Fathers Day.

I was briefly tempted to buy some pregnancy tests at the dollar store and POAS every day starting the day after ovulation to test out my trigger. But I didn't do it. I'm glad I didn't. I think that might make me crazy.

I am due to POAS next Monday morning to see if I am pregnant. If I am, great, and my RE's office will schedule a blood test in a day or two. If I'm not, I get to stop the progesterone gel and wait for AF to arrive.

We are supposed to move on from Clomid to injectables this next cycle if I'm not pregnant. So we'll see.

I am feeling neither optimistic nor pessimistic about our chances this cycle. I know that I had two good-sized follices, and I know that MM and timed our intercourse perfectly and did everything that we could do. I also know that we have done everything that we could do for 15 prior cycles with not a single BFP to show for our efforts. Given that knowledge, it would be hard to be optimistic.

I continue to know a zillion-and-one people who have babies, and the at-least-once-a-week pregnancy announcements continue. There are only so many posts I can write about that. I've kinda gotten used to it at this point.

Thought about doing ICLW this month but knew I wouldn't be posting on anything interesting this week and didn't think I'd have time to read any new blogs. Maybe next month.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sad today

I learned of something today that has greatly saddened me. As I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I volunteer as a CASA. My current "charge" is a 9-year-old girl ("M") who has been "legally free" (i.e., her biological parents' rights have been severed) since October 2004, when she was 4 years old. M originally came into the state's custody at age 3 after being sexually molested by her father. Her mother had not been a part of her life since she was a toddler due to drug addiction. In addition to being a child molester, her biological father had a long history of mental illness and drug addiction himself. It was never clear to me why her mother thought he should retain custody. I guess she wasn't thinking of anyone but herself and her addiction.

M has lived with a few relatives, in several different foster homes, and in two group homes since being removed from her father's care. She has had three people interested in adopting her who later backed out--one of whom was her maternal grandmother, who kept her in another state for six weeks before sending her back, saying she couldn't handle her--and one couple who declined to adopt just after learning her history. (M has a history of a number of behavioral issues, including severe tantrums and sexual acting out.)

M is a healthy, smart, Caucasian little girl who, but for her behavioral problems and family history, would likely be easy to place. She doesn't have any of the "special needs" that a lot of foster children have, in terms of illnesses or developmental delays. Unfortunately, not many parents want to take on the types of issues that she does have, particularly in a child who has suspected reactive attachment disorder.

Because she is smart, M is able to control her behavior for short periods of time and in certain settings. For example, she has never acted out sexually at school or had a tantrum there. In all the years I have known her, she has only ever had one full-blown tantrum with me and has never acted out sexually. The majority of her behaviors occur in the home in which she is living, and even there, usually only after a few weeks' "honeymoon" period.

After M's last adoption fell through last fall and she was moved to yet another foster home, I despaired of her case manager ever finding a permanent home for her. Although she is still a child, not many parents are looking to adopt a 9-year-old. . . . especially a 9-year-old with challenging behavioral issues.

So I was cautiously optimistic when a married couple who I will call "L" and "G" were found. Wife L had been in foster care herself as a child and was active in foster care advocacy. Husband G works in law enforcement. They had four dogs and two horses. (M loves animals, especially horses.) Despite having spent several weekends with M and seeing many of her behaviors firsthand, they seemed committed to being her parents and working through her problems. I met them and was favorably impressed. More importantly, MM was favorably impressed. (My husband is a MUCH better judge of people on first impression than I, probably due to supervising convicted felons for a living.)

M moved in with L and G full-time just after Memorial Day. L and G were employing strict discipline in an attempt to break M of her tantrums. Nothing abusive: just setting some appropriate boundaries and expectations, something that M has had little experience of in foster care.

In the past couple of weeks, I had received some emails from L that indicated some problems. M had begun using a "divide and conquer" strategy and aligning herself with G. G did not see that he was being manipulated and had begun siding with M against L at times in disputes. Needless to say, this was putting a strain on L and G's marriage. L had investigated the possibility of sending M to respite care for a weekend so that she and G could regroup and "work on [their] marriage."

So I shouldn't have been surprised today when I received this email from L:

M was disrupted yesterday from our home [i.e., she was removed and placed elsewhere]. M sexually acted out toward G on Monday night. Everything I had feared and suspected about M's unusual and inappropriate attachment toward G was confirmed. G was completely shocked and traumatized. We are both devastated, but we know this was the right decision. We are incapable of giving her what she needs to get better.

M is now living in another group home indefinitely. I don't know what will happen to this child, but I am very sad that things did not work for her--yet again--with this family. And I'm worried that she will never find a family who can meet her needs and help her be normal.

Life is so unfair. M has had more instability in her 9 years of life than most people I know experience in a lifetime. She has so much potential. It's sad.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thy Will Be Done

As I suspected, when our clinic's nurse called me back on Sunday, she suggested that I go ahead and trigger and that we do timed intercourse since we were unable to do an IUI this cycle. MM and I dutifully had sex Sunday night, last night, and will do it again tonight, just to make sure all our bases are covered. (Though I probably ovulated sometime yesterday or during the night last night, based on my + OPK and trigger shot.) This despite the fact that I was absolutely exhausted from noon on Sunday until bedtime last night--think I was fighting off some bug--and had horrible lower abdominal bloating and discomfort following my trigger shot.

While conversing with my hairstylist about a completely unrelated topic on Saturday, I made an observation about prayer that I later realized is equally applicable to TTC. (Yeah, I have some weirdly deep discussions with my hairstylist, a very cool, happily-partnered gay man who I've known for nearly 10 years.) I opined that, if one is praying for something for oneself sincerely and in hope of having the prayer answered, there are really only two acceptable things for which to pray: that G-d's will be done, and that He will grant you the grace to accept whatever is supposed to happen. The fact of the matter is, few of us pray for just these two things, myself included. Praying for any specific thing to happen implies that our wishes or desires are superior to G-d's plan for us, that we know better than He what we need.

Since we have been TTC, many cycles I have prayed (and others have prayed on my behalf) that I would get pregnant. In light of this conversation, and my reflection upon it afterwards, this cycle I only prayed that G-d's will would be done and that He would grant me the grace to accept the outcome of this cycle, whatever that may be.

(I should mention here that MM doesn't believe in prayer and therefore has never been one of those who has prayed that I would get pregnant.)

I've been feeling weirdly optimistic about this cycle, though each time I notice a positive thought crossing my mind, I almost immediately think that allowing myself to hope is just setting myself up for a greater disappointment if/when the cycle is a (nother) failure.

One other semi-TTC-related thing: I wrote a post recently about learning of a friend's second pregnancy at a mutual friend's baby shower. A few days ago, I learned that my friend "L," who is 21 or 22 weeks pregnant, found out last week that the baby she is carrying has a number of genetic abnormalities that will make it impossible for her to survive outside the womb. In fact, L's doctors have told her that it is likely that the baby will die in utero, long before she reaches term. After seeking the advice of several different high risk OB/GYNs and geneticists, who all agreed that the baby is not viable, L is in the unimaginably sad position of having to deliver a baby girl who will not live. Such a sad, sad situation. L and her husband have an adorable 20-month-old son and were so excited to be giving him a baby sister.

There are definitely some things worse than being unable to conceive. . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sign from the universe?

(I wanted to title this post "F*&ked Again," but the use of the F word in the title of a post on an infertility blog seemed wrong on several levels.)

I had my mid-cycle u/s to check my follicles this morning (nothing like a vaginal u/s to start your Sunday morning). I had forgotten that my clinic wants me to POAS before the u/s, instead of between 10 and 11 a.m. as I do on other days. Yesterday's OPK was negative, but this morning's OPK, performed at the clinic just before the u/s, was an obvious positive.

My u/s showed two good-sized follicles, one 19-mm and one 21-mm. We scheduled an IUI for 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. I should be psyched, and I was for about 20 minutes. . . .

And then I realized as I was driving home that I have to go out of town for work in the morning. It is an appointment with a physician expert in another city that has been set for over a month, and I cannot reschedule: for one thing, I can't reach the expert by phone until after I should already be in route to her office tomorrow, and given her schedule and the status of the case, there's a 99% chance I couldn't reschedule anyway. Plus I am not attending alone; one of the nurse consultants from our firm will also be there, and she only works part-time and thus is difficult to schedule out-of-town appointments with. (Ironically, this meeting is on the same case for which I had to reschedule a deposition in April due to conflict with an IUI.)

So once I got home, I went ahead and took my trigger shot because I figured even if we are just doing timed intercourse, I still need the hCG to make both those follicles release their eggs. I called my clinic and left a message on the "nurse line" cancelling tomorrow morning's IUI.

In recapping the three cycles since we've started treatment, I've observed that the first IUI fell on a day when I had a deposition scheduled that had to be moved. Our second cycle was a non-starter because my husband screwed up and didn't pick up my Clomid on time. Now this cycle we are unable to do IUI because of a work schedule conflict.

I might find this all more understandable if I were one of those lawyers who is frequently out of the office, but lately I have spent 80% of my time sitting on my ass at my desk, reading, writing or researching. So it seems to me quite a coincidence--and not a happy one--that something has come up to throw a wrench in the works every one of the three cycles I've had since we decided to start intervention.

I can't help but think that perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something. Maybe this G-d's way of letting me know that I shouldn't be doing intervention at all, not even Clomid + IUI. Maybe it is a sign that I am truly not meant to ever get pregnant and that I should just accept that fact and move on with my life.

I'm still waiting for a call back from the nurse at our RE's clinic to let me know what they want us to do. I'm thinking that she will say timed intercourse.

Oh well. Looking on the bright side, at least we won't be spending the money for an IUI this month. That'll save us $130 in co-pays and save our insurance for another try.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My husband

Thanks for the comments on my last post about the Clomid side effects. It's nice to read that others have had similar experiences; makes me feel less like it might just be me losing my marbles. ;-)

I was thinking today about some of the things I love about my husband, and in the spirit of trying to post something a little more positive than my usual fare, I thought I'd share some of them.

We are both going through a difficult time emotionally related to our inability to conceive, which can make it hard to focus on the positive. Although most of the time I am now in a state of grim resignation about our infertilty, MM is still in the anger stage of grieving about it. (The fact that his job is supervising felons who tend to be super-fertile probably doesn't help. For example, he was telling me a story last night about a 25-year-old meth addict client of his who has an eighth grade education and six children, only two of whom are still in her custody.)

Though I love him and I know that he loves me, I do believe that knowing we would be unable to become parents together might have changed his mind about becoming involved with me in the first place. I don't take that as reflection upon me, personally, but rather as a reflection upon his strong desire to be a father. MM was 34 years old when we met; he was more than ready to settle down and start a family. If he had known when we first started dating that he couldn't have a child with me, I suspect that he wouldn't have pursued the relationship. (Truth be told, if the tables were turned, I probably wouldn't have either.)

But regardless, here we are. And despite our infertility, I love MM and am happy that I married him.

One of the things I love about my husband is that he is really great at reading people. He can spend a couple of hours with friends of mine I've known for years and perceive things about their personalities and relationships that it took me months to learn. I value his opinions of people because I know he will have insights about them that will elude me.

Although his neatnik tendencies sometimes drive me crazy, the result of them is that he does more housework than I do. (He does draw the line at cleaning the bathrooms.) You gotta love a guy who cleans! And despite his abhorrence of clutter, he has learned to accept that I am not as neat and organized as he is.

MM realizes my worth and believes that he is lucky to have me. Just the other night, he told me that he would never leave me for someone younger/prettier/thinner because if he did, he knows he would regret it because he would never find anyone with whom he could have the kind of relationship he has with me. He sees me as smart, together, and real. He can be himself with me, without reservations.

Best of all, MM makes me laugh nearly every day. If it's not something he's said, it'll be some little spontaneous dance he'll do or his interaction with the dogs or something. He's quite funny but he only displays this quality in certain settings. I'd suspect that the majority of his co-workers have no clue about his goofy sense of humor.

I could post more but will stop here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clomid side effect?

Like any good nerd (and former nurse), I like to have lots of information about any drug I'm going to put into my body. So, thanks to Dr. Google, I read extensively on line about the potential side effects that I could expect from Clomid. The ones that concerned me the most were the mood swings and headaches.

My first cycle taking Clomid 100 mg in April, I had no true side effects. I had increased abdominal discomfort and bloating around ovulation time, but I expected those because of the fact that (hopefully) more was going on in that area than usual. The mood swings and headaches I'd feared didn't occur.

This cycle, though, I'm not sure. I finished my last dose of Clomid on Sunday night. The past couple of days, I have had a few hot flashes. Today I am in an extremely irritable mood and am having difficulty focusing on work.

A couple of examples of things that have annoyed me (which normally would not): an article online about 2 million people not being ready for the conversion to digital TV (who cares? It's TV, not running water or food!) and an attorney who hasn't returned the three voicemail messages I've left for her this week about a case. Trivial, no?

Yeah, I am a little edgy.

Although I sometimes get in moods like this midway through my luteal phase (PMS, maybe?), I don't recall ever feeling like this prior to ovulation. Plus I have no sex drive whatsoever. . . which is more than a little unusual for me. And I have very little appetite, also VERY unusual for me (though helpful to the diet).

Not sure if I can truly attribute these feelings to the Clomid, but they are certainly out of character for me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


In looking at the Facebook profile of my acquaintance who just welcomed baby #3, I see that he lists his religious preference as "atheist." Huh.

Guess *he* isn't going to be saying he's "blessed."

Feeling odd

I've felt a little "off" all day today. Just generally tired (despite a good night's sleep of 8 hours) and occasionally flushed. I'm thinking it may be related to the Clomid? Who knows.

Remember the post where I talked about how I know so many people who have had babies in the past three years? And how some of them have even had two babies in that time period, either twins or two babies in less than three years? And I mentioned that, to my knowledge, no one I know had had three babies in the past three years?

Yeah, as of last week, scratch that. An acquaintance of mine posted an update on Facebook about the birth of his third son. His oldest will not be 3 until August.

My inability to conceive sometimes makes me feel that I am somehow cursed. I guess it's a logical inference to draw, when everyone who is pregnant or has a new baby so often says they are "blessed." If having a child means one is blessed, I guess being unable to have a child means one is cursed.

Lord knows I am no saint, but I can't figure out what I did that was bad enough to deserve this curse.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ruminations on another blogger's post

I recently read a thought-provoking post which, in talking about adoption, drew some comparisons between the emotions evoked by an unplanned pregnancy and the emotions evoked by an inability to conceive. I've been turning the idea over and over in my mind since reading it, and I have a few thoughts on the subject.

You see, unplanned pregnancy is something closer to my experiences than infertility. . . . or at least it was until I started struggling with infertility myself. I've had "pregnancy scares" when I was younger where my period was late after unprotected sex. (Yeah, I know, dumb, right? And had I known then what I know now--that I can't conceive--I could've saved myself some stress and lost sleep!) Both my mom and stepmom and a few of my friends have gotten pregnant when they weren't planning to. . . some of those when they were actively trying NOT to get pregnant. There were several girls at my high school who got pregnant by accident. I get that.

In both situations, something is not right. The woman may feel trapped in a situation not of her own making. She may feel that her body has betrayed her. She may feel judged by other people. Depression and desperation are likely common to both situations, as they would be in any situation where things are happening that one cannot control.

One key difference I perceive between the two scenarios, though, is that I would venture to say that the majority of women who become mothers when they weren't planning to eventually come to accept their situation and to love their child. I'm sure there are a minority who do not--I've worked with children in foster care for too long to think that some kids don't go on being "unwanted"--but most do. Of my friends whose pregnancies were unplanned, more than one has told me that they have loved being a mother and that they are grateful for the child, despite the circumstances of its conception.

For those of us who are infertile and will never have a child of our own, there is no "light at the end of the tunnel." There's no "consolation prize." Best case scenario, we learn to live with an alternative life, a life we didn't choose, with no child to make the situation seem like "fate" or "kismet" or "meant to be." There will never be a justification for our inability to achieve one of the most basic goals in our lives.

Years ago, on the handful of occasions when I feared I might be pregnant, I could still see an "end game" where everything would turn out OK for me. Depending on where I was in my life, that end game either included giving the child up for adoption or parenting, either alone or with the child's father.

With infertility, I don't see an end game where things will turn out OK. I don't know how I--or my husband--will accept never being a parent to our own child. And to me, therein lies the difference.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I've finished my fifth dose of Clomid. Nothing else TTC-related is slated to happen in my life until I start to POAS beginning Thursday each day between 10 and 11 a.m. to see whether my LH is surging on its own, pre-trigger. My mid-cycle u/s is a week from today.

MM and I had a very fun and relaxing weekend. We stayed at a local resort (15 minutes from our house) and took advantage of the much-lower-than-usual rate. The resorts here usually discount their rates over the summer, and this year with the poor economy and tourism being down, the discount was even more than usual. We talked about doing this last summer and didn't, so this year we decided to go for it.

We went out to one of our "special occasion" restaurants for a late dinner on Friday. We spent Saturday morning lying out by the pool reading, alternated with floating along the "lazy river" or splashing around in the pool. Around noon, my in-laws met us for lunch at the resort, and afterward we went shopping at a nearby, open-air mall. For dinner that night, we tried a delicious new Tuscan grill. This morning we had a leisurely walk around the resort grounds before heading to the theatre to see the movie The Hangover and then coming home.

I really love the freedom that MM and I have to do things like this weekend. . . . freedom that we will give up to a great extent if/when we have a child. We are both at a stage in our lives where we are more than ready to make the sacrifice, though.

I haven't had any more "deep thoughts" over the weekend. In fact, I hardly thought about TTC at all. . . . and it was nice!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spouse vs. parent

The comment from SS on my last post got me thinking about whether, in fact, I would have been happier having had a child with the wrong person than having no children with the right partner. In some ways, I suppose it is moot to consider this, given that I can't go back and do anything over.

But coincidentally, a friend who is in grad school posed the following question for a paper he is writing. Which role has brought you more happiness: spouse or parent?

In helping out my friend, I emailed several of my friends who are parents to get their responses. Some of the responses were just what I would've expected. For example, two friends who are divorced parents answered that the "parent" role has brought them more happiness. A few people were unable to choose, usually citing the interplay between the relationships of "parent" and "spouse," or saying that they couldn't choose between the two.

Interestingly, though several married friends unequivocally chose "parent." These are all friends who have been married some time--from 12 to 25 years--who have more than one child. To my knowledge, they are all happily married.

Not one of my friends unequivocally responded that the role of "spouse" had brought him/her greater happiness.

So I suppose I can infer from this that, if I am like my friends, the happiness I would (will?) experience from being a parent will be equal to, or more than, the happiness I've experienced as MM's wife. Which just confirms my thought that, had I had a child earlier in life, even with the wrong partner, I likely would have derived more happiness from that experience than from marrying MM.

Hmmm. Kinda makes me wish I'd known this at, say, 23. But then again, at 23, I still thought I'd be super-fertile well into my 30s. So I probably still would've waited to TTC.

Interesting thing to consider. . . .

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Random thoughts

I took my first dose of Clomid for this cycle last night. For the first time, I felt a little flushed an hour or so after taking it. But to be fair, I live in a desert where the daytime high yesterday was 104 and had just taken the goldens to the park for 45 minutes, so I can't be entirely sure that my hot flash was a medication side effect.

Also, I woke up before 4 a.m. today with a headache. . . . but again, this does happen to me once in a while, even without Clomid (and in fact, had just happened on Tuesday of this week also). Mood, etc., all fine, normal.

Yet another Facebook friend of mine from law school announced her (second) pregnancy yesterday. I swear, my FB friends are a fertile bunch! I counted the other day and have 45 friends on FB who have children under age 3 and/or are pregnant. . . . and I purposely excluded women I know in that category solely because of our own TTC efforts (they would bring the total to 54).

I suppose it makes sense that a lot of people are pregnant or have little ones, given that the majority of women of my acquaintance are between the ages of 28 and 40. This particular classmate is in her early 30s and has a 3-year-old son already. I'm happy for her.

I couldn't help but think, though: does the world really want lawyers reproducing at this rate? LOL

Weirdly, I am beginning to feel more OK with the idea of not having a child of our own. That's not to say that I have lost my desire for a child or that I am ready to give up trying (though some days, I wonder). No, I want to be a mother as much as I ever have. . . . probably more because I have waited so long and am in a place in my life where I think I could do a bang-up job at parenting now, as opposed to some earlier times in my life.

It's hard to clearly express my feelings on the subject. Maybe the best way to explain it is to say: I think I am realizing that eventually I will be OK and my life will still be a happy one, even if it never includes motherhood. I have so much in my life that is good, and though I know I will mourn the loss of "what might have been" if we are not successful with TTC, I believe that eventually I will move past that loss and go on with my life.

I feel like I've been waiting so long already, even though we have only been TTC for 14 months. I think that's partly a function of waiting until age 37 to start TTC: I've wanted to be a mom since my early 20s. The difference now is that I'm waiting while actively working toward the goal, rather than waiting for the right partner, the right time, the right situation. Still, the years of waiting for that right partner, time and situation are not forgotten and had to be lived through.

I never thought I'd be in this position. And it often seems to me something of a cruel irony that by making the "right" choices in my life--by pursuing education and a career and by waiting to marry someone I could truly make a lifelong commitment to--I may have allowed the opportunity to have what I wanted most pass me by.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Clomid, Take Two

AF arrived on schedule Monday afternoon, so tonight I start my second round of Clomid. This cycle will be basically an exact repeat of our April cycle, except that I will be triggering with Ovidrel rather than Pregnyl (which gave me a huge, painful welt).

I will take Clomid every night from tonight through Sunday and will then start using OPKs a week from tomorrow. My mid-cycle follicle check ultrasound is scheduled for Sunday, 6/14. (Is it wrong that I was psyched that CD 14 fell on Sunday this cycle so that I don't have to miss any work?)

Looking ahead for any potential conflicts, I will be mildly inconvenienced if my IUI ends up on 6/16 because I have a 9:15 telephonic court hearing that morning. But I don't think it will be impossible for me to either do both or get someone else to cover the hearing.

When we met with the RE in late March to discuss our plan, we agreed that if I were not pregnant after two cycles of Clomid, we would move on to injectables. So I am really, really hoping that the Clomid + IUI combo works this cycle! Not looking forward to the (potential) added expense and pain associated with injectables.

I am optimistic that Clomid won't cause me any side effects; it didn't last cycle I took it.

I have mixed feelings about this cycle. Any small bit of optimism I ever had about TTC has long since fled, so I have no expectation that we will successful. At the same time, I feel that we have to "try." I know that injectables + IUI is as far as we are going, which makes me hesitant to go there, to our "last chance" to get pregnant.

Anyway. We shall see. I will say again that it has certainly been nice being on a break this cycle!

Oh, and I have belatedly started on my commitment to lose some weight and get healthier that I planned for our break cycle. I started a new exercise program Monday that will have me at the gym for cardio and strength training six days a week, whereas before, I only did cardio, and that usually only 2-3 days a week on average. I've also started the South Beach diet because I have lost weight on it before and many of its recommendations are in line with those in The Fertility Diet. I am not anovulatory, but hey, can't hurt, might help.

I figure even if my healthier habits don't lead to pregnancy, at least I will look and feel better.

Monday, June 1, 2009

8 x 8

Having now seen this on two of the blogs in my google reader today, I feel compelled to participate. I can be such a joiner at times! Really, I just like lists.

[I'm confused, though: I only see 7 lists? I guess the 8th was the "people I'm tagging" list that I skipped. ?]

First, the rules:
1. mention person who tagged me (no one tagged me, but I linked to the blogs where I saw these above)
2. complete list of 8s
3. tag 8 people (I don't "do" tagging, so I will pass on this one)

And now the lists:

8 things I am looking forward to:
1. retirement someday
2. seeing my sister and 2-year-old nephew in September
3. our upcoming romantic weekend getaway (at a resort 10 minutes from home)
4. our new golden Hunter getting his stitches out next week
5. the new season of True Blood
6. hiking in the fall when the weather is cooler again
7. touring the White House during our vacation in DC this fall
8. petting the goldens today after work

8 things I did yesterday
1. bought groceries
2. prepped vegetables for the week's meals
3. played too much Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook
4. took the goldens to the park
5. dusted the bedroom
6. took Excedrin and a nap 'cause I had a headache
7. groused at poor MM most of the day!
8. had dinner at Sweet Tomatoes

8 things I wish I could do:
1. get pregnant and raise my own child by birth
2. get to a healthy weight
3. be more organized at home and at work
4. retire early and travel
5. turn dog poo into gold: I'd be rich in no time!
6. live on the ocean
7. see my sister more often
8. pay off my student loans early

8 shows I watch:
1. Oprah (when I'm home for it)
2. The Dog Whisperer
3. Law & Order (occasionally)
4. Two and a Half Men
5. True Blood (can't wait for the second season to start!)
6. whatever MM turns on
7. ?
8. ?
(I don't watch much TV)

8 favorite fruits
1. strawberries
2. blueberries
3. raspberries
4. bananas
5. Gala apples
6. kiwi
7. papaya
8. mango

8 places I’d like to travel
1. London (again, but for more than a day and a half this time)
2. Ireland (again)
3. Italy
4. Cozumel
5. Seattle
6. Charleston, South Carolina
7. Paris
8. Australia

8 places I’ve lived:
1. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
2. Queens, New York
3. El Paso, Texas
4. Thousand Oaks, California
5. Tucson, Arizona
6. Waterbury, Connecticut
7. Plano, Texas
8. Las Cruces, New Mexico

The adoption option

I want to start out this post by saying that I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who adopt, especially those who adopt children from foster care and/or with special needs. I participated in my law school's child advocacy clinic, representing abused and neglected children in foster care in court. I have volunteered as a CASA since 2002 and seen two very special little girls placed in permanent homes.

I also want to acknowledge the role that adoption has played in my family. My mother gave an infant up for adoption when she found herself pregnant, unmarried and unable to care for a child. All of my mom's sister's children but the oldest are adopted. In our extended family, there are other adopted members as well.

As with my post on IVF, this post is meant to outline OUR thoughts on adoption only. I am by no means saying that our choice is the right or only one. And if any of my/MM's assumptions are wrong, I welcome input from anyone who can tell us so.

Having said all this by way of introduction, I don't think that MM and I will adopt if we are unable to have a child on our own. I know many people who chose adoption instead of, or in addition to, having a children by birth, but I am also aware that, for many, adoption is a second-choice option. . . . only considered when attempts to have a child by birth have failed and all other options have been exhausted.

One of MM's primary drives to have a child--as I'm sure is the case with many people--is that he wants his "own child." When he uses those words, he doesn't just mean a child who will growing up knowing him as "Dad." He means a child with whom he has a genetic/biological link. Although I have no doubt that he would grow to love a child we adopted and would be a good father to him/her, that biological/genetic relationship would obviously be lacking.

While this rationale might sound selfish to some, I have blogged here before about MM's somewhat unique family situation. He is an only child born to two only children. When his parents are gone, all his blood relatives save a few distant cousins will be gone also. How many people can say that they will have no one in left in the world who is related to them once their parents have passed on? Given these facts, I think his attitude is more understandable.

I should also add here that both MM and I are white (I'm primarily of Irish descent; he, Norwegian). Were we to adopt, we would only want to adopt a white child. This choice is not due to any racism on our part; rather, we do not want to have any stranger on the street knowing at first glance that our child is adopted. We would want a child who "looked like us," at least a little bit. We also don't wish to pursue international adoption for the same reason and the added reason that we would know little to nothing about what to teach the child about the culture into which s/he had been born.

Another objection that we share is the expense of adoption. In contrast to doing IVF, at least when money is spent on adoption, you will end up with a child at the end of the process. It may take a while, but it is more of a "sure thing" than any kind of ART. Still, a little research reveals that adopting domestically usually costs at least as much as a cycle of IVF, and sometimes more; fees vary by agency and situation. From friends' experiences, though, we know that there is potentially a long wait to adopt a Caucasian newborn through domestic adoption.

There can be plenty of heartache along the way to domestic adoption, too. Even being chosen by a birth mother is no guarantee of adopting an infant. The son of one of the partners in my law firm had a birth mother change her mind hours after delivery just before Christmas last year, after he and his wife had anxiously and hopefully waited months for the birth of the child.

Adoption today is not like it was thirty-plus years ago. The movie Juno aside, many girls/women today who are giving up their babies for adoption have problems with mental illness or addiction. It is just not as common to find babies available for adoption for no other reason than that the parents are too young and ill-equipped to be parents. Our society has made single motherhood, even for teenagers, quite socially acceptable during my lifetime. . . . to say nothing of the fact that abortion--though not necessarily "readily available" to some--is an option chosen by many women finding themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy.

MM is of the mindset that when you adopt a child born to parents with mental illness or addiction, whether that child is a newborn or an older child, you are, to an extent, "buying into someone else's problems." Research has shown that both addiction and most types of mental illness have some genetic links. Even if the child you adopt is a newborn, s/he may have a propensity toward these types of problems that a child-by-birth would not have.

That is not to say that giving birth to your own biological child takes away the possibility of these types of problems. Mood disorders--anxiety and depression--are found in both my family and in MM's. The difference in MM's mind, though, is that when you bring a child into the world, you "take what you get," the good along with the bad. And you own it, because that child is yours, flesh of your flesh.

One path to adoptive parenthood that can be slightly shorter than adopting a newborn is adopting an older child through the foster care system. In many ways, this is near and dear to my heart because of my work with abused and neglected kids. I have family members and friends in real life who have gone this route, with both positive and negative results.

Children who have been in the foster care system are usually there because they have been neglected and/or abused. Because of this history and the disruption of being in "the system," these children may have issues unique to their early childhood experiences which will make them a particular challenge to parent. In seeing my friends' experiences, I think I can say that the majority of the time, parenting an older child adopted from foster care requires a different set of parenting skills than simply parenting a child who has lived in your home since day one.

And although agencies who place older children from foster care with adoptive parents are required to disclose the children's histories and family histories if known, the adoptive parents will always lack some crucial information about the child's history. You cannot know for sure what the child's life was like before s/he was in foster care or in your home. In some instances, little is known about the child's biological parents as well. You didn't have the opportunity to influence and shape the child during the earliest, most crucial periods of development.

In my opinion, adopting from foster care is a unique challenge and one I would not mind taking on. However, I don't think that we would go that route: MM doesn't favor it (for all the reasons I talked about above), and my career really wouldn't allow me to devote the time to it that it would require.

Had my life gone differently--for instance, if I were still a hospital nurse, who could work a part-time, flexible schedule, or had I married someone who earned more money than I, allowing me not to work at all--I would wish to pursue this alternative, whether or not I had a biological child of my own. As things stand, with me working full-time in a demanding career and being the primary breadwinner in our household. . . . it does not seem to me to be a viable alternative.

These are our thoughts. As with my post on IVF. . . . we reserve the right to re-visit this discussion if/when we realize we will never have a child by birth.