Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Childless vs. Childfree

One of the wonderful parts of my recent weekend away was reconnecting with a friend from college who I had not seen in a number of years.  My friend, who I will call "CF," and I used to often travel together and kept in touch for years after college.  In the past 5-6 years, we have talked less and less and seen each other only a couple of times.  We never had a falling out or a fight. . . . just gradually drifted apart as we continued to live our separate lives.

I was interested to learn that CF is still in a relationship with the same man, 18 years her senior, who she was with when I last saw her a little over four years ago.  I was also happy to learn that they are making plans to become officially engaged by the fall and to get married sometime next year.

CF's significant other is divorced and has two grown children, daughters aged 26 and 30.  CF made reference to the fact that her S.O. would have been "willing to give me a baby" but that he had no real desire to have more children at this stage of his life.  As it happened, CF had to undergo a hysterectomy last year for medical reasons (she's fine now), so that closed the door on any further discussion of children for them.

CF seemed to truly be content with the idea that she would not have a child with her S.O., a man she has loved and been in a relationship with for over ten years.  She actually said that in a way, having to have a hysterectomy simplified things for her, because it put the decision of whether to have a child of her own out of her hands and "made the decision for [her]."  She no longer had to devote any time or effort to deciding whether having a child with her S.O. was really important to her.

Of course, when reflecting on it later, I could not help but contrast my friend's seemingly easy acceptance of knowing she will never have a child of her own with my own feelings about being unable to conceive.  She truly did not seem upset at all at the prospect of never having a child.

And I found that, in a perverse way, I envied her.  How I would love to have the decision about whether to continue TTC taken completely out of my hands!  How freeing it would be to know that pregnancy was now a complete impossibility for me!  No more hoping every month, only to have those hopes dashed by yet another BFN.  If I had no uterus, I wouldn't even have to consider shelling out $30K+ for donor egg IVF!
Infertility has indeed warped my mind.  Only someone with a warped mind would envy a friend who was required to undergo a hysterectomy at age 37.

Oddly, as it happens, I actually know a few people these days who are by ch.oic.e. or "childfree," as I believe is preferred term.  Two of my coworkers have been married for 20+ years and neither ever wanted kids.  A couple of high school friends of mine with whom I have recently reconnected, who are the same age as me, have no children and do not want them.  Two friends of mine from law school are well over 40,  married, have no children, and want no children.

So what do these people grasp that I/we don't?  Why do MM and I feel that our lives will be incomplete without a child of our own, when clearly so many other sane, rational people do not?

Why do we feel that our life without children will be childLESS and not childFREE?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Postponing the inevitable

While reading this article this morning, I was struck by the similarity in people's approach to cancer treatment and to infertility treatment.  It seems to me that, like cancer, many people adopt the "never give up, try everything" mentality described in the last third of this article in relation to their infertility:

I guess we find childlessness as difficult to accept as death.  ?

Funny how I should relate this article to infertility when it has nothing to do with it.

Battle on Many Fronts

I have long thought of myself as a strong, resilient person.  Ever since age 17, when I first started college, I have been financially self-supporting, paying all my own bills including school-related expenses.  I only lived with my parents occasionally during college, and since age 20, I have always lived on my own.  No one has given me an allowance, or a bail-out, even when I desperately needed it.

In addition to supporting myself, I have dealt with many, many changes in my life.  I have been through more break-ups with men than I care to think about now (having not married until I was 37) and have lost friends for various reasons, too.  I moved frequently throughout my 20s, by my choice and by necessity.  I went to law school when I was 30.  I've had several different professional jobs and two separate and distinct professional careers.  I have had to adjust to many new people and new situations.

At times when people like doctors or counselors have asked me if I am under a lot of stress, I have had to chuckle to myself.  What is "a lot" of stress?  With working as a hospital nurse, moving frequently, attending law school and then being a lawyer, and everything else I've done as an adult, I cannot recall a time when I didn't have what most people would likely consider a lot of stress.  Being under a lot of stress is a normal condition for me, and I think I generally handle it better than the average person.  At this point, I'm not even sure how I would feel if I didn't have a lot of stress.

One thing I have observed about myself during times of stress, though, is that I seem to do OK as long as only one area of my life is causing me problems.  For example, if work is very busy and demanding, I can handle it so long as my personal life is going smoothly.  Or when I was single and not dealing with man-related drama, I was able get clear in my head about a career change and how to make that happen.  Or when I was going through a break-up, I would do pretty well as long as work was status quo and I could rely on my friends for support.

Since we have been dealing with infertility for the past 20 months, I have been fortunate in that most other things in my life have been going fine.  My marriage is good, apart from the (unavoidable) strain caused by our inability to have a baby.  For the most part, all of my relationships have been going well.  Until recently, work was no more stressful than usual, most of the time.

Now that I am dealing with the possibility of losing my job and a decreased workload which is affecting my earnings, all due to the bad economy, I am finding myself less equipped to deal with the stress of this situation than I used to be.  I think the reason is that I feel I am now fighting a battle on many fronts, and that is something at which I am not adept.  

Also, infertility has shaken my confidence in myself and my faith in the idea that eventually things will come out right if I just keep working hard and moving forward.  I am finding that I feel less optimistic and more beaten down than I can recall feeling in a long time.  Normally I would look on my current situation at work as an opportunity to make a change which might turn out to be for the better, and while I say that to people who ask me about my future career plans, I don't feel it.

Instead, for the first time since before I finished college, I feel ill-equipped to deal with the challenge of finding another position.  I feel like a failure.  I no longer feel that if I work hard and do the "right" things, I will eventually be successful.  I desperately need to focus my energy and efforts on some endeavor in which I know I can be successful. . . . but at this point, I cannot even imagine what that might be.

Going back and seeing many old friends this weekend was bittersweet.  It was, and always is, great to see people who knew me as a young woman and to find out how they are doing and how life is going for them.  I always enjoy a walk down Memory Lane when the memories are good ones, and the memories evoked by these people are some of my best.

At the same time, to an extent, I felt like a failure and a fraud.  I felt like a failure because nearly everyone my age, and even younger, has succeeded in building the family life that she wanted. . . .everyone but me.  At this point, I think some of the people I saw think I am a "career woman" who doesn't want children.  I do consider myself a career woman, but I had always hoped to be a mother, too.

I felt like a fraud because most of these people perceive me as being successful, and I do not feel successful currently.  Not at all.  Yes, I am "finally" married after many years of singlehood, but I still haven't had a child of my own. . . . and it is looking more all the time like I never will.  Yes, I have an advanced degree and have had two professional careers, yet in spite of this, I now live in fear of becoming involuntarily unemployed at any time.  Hell, I haven't even managed to get my weight under control.

So if you have gotten this far, you have probably gathered that, in spite of my weekend away (which I did thoroughly enjoy, except for yesterday's migraine which ruined my afternoon and made flying home torture), my pity party continues.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Loss & Heartache

Thank you all for your kind words.  I am really not feeling better yet, partly based on IF, partly based on work-related worries, and am still having my little pity party.  I do know, though, that this, too, shall pass.  I have been in funks before, and things always get better eventually.  (You might spare some pity for MM, though, who is getting to live with negative, grumpy S for a while.  Not a fun experience, I can assure you.)

I am getting away again this weekend (without MM) and will be seeing loads of old friends and acquaintances who knew me when I was just S.  The young, optimistic, just-starting-out S, not S the lawyer worried about her job, S, MM's wife, or S the sad, childless 39-year-old.  I think it will be good for me, and I am looking forward to it.  I will get to chill with my friends, catch up with all the latest news, and have some delicious authentic New Mexican green chile besides.

Though I am wallowing in self-pity currently, I am not without compassion for my online friends who are dealing with even worse things than I.  Two bloggers who I read regularly have experienced heartbreaking losses this week.  I hope anyone reading this will take some time to click over and offer support to R and to Jo, both of whom have recently gotten the news that their much-desired and hard-won pregnancies are ending in miscarriage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Preserving My Sanity

I felt fine when I wrote yesterday's post, but as the workday progressed, I felt lower and lower.  (It probably didn't help that I am not nearly as busy as I should be at work. . . . which may sound like a good thing but isn't when your pay is tied to the amount of work you do and you are worried about getting laid off.)  From late morning on, I found myself, by turns, borderline weepy, apathetic and lethargic, and angry.

When I get in a down mood like that, I find it difficult to think logically and rationally about my life.  So even though, on an intellectual level, I know that most things in my life are good--MM; my parents, sister, nephew, and in-laws; my friends; my doggies; my career, even if not this specific job; my home, my car--I develop a serious case of the f'#%-its.  You know.  I can only dwell on what is wrong, not on what is right.  And I just decide that my whole life is sh1t and I just want to crawl into a hole and die.

Ahem.  A very productive thought process, I'm sure you'll agree.

Times in the past when I have found myself in this type of mood, I have found it helpful to find some positive action(s) I can take in my life to move out of my slump.  Sometimes this is as simple as cleaning out and organizing a closet; other times, it has spurred me to change jobs, or end a relationship, or move to a different city.

Rarely do the positive actions I decide to devote my time and attention to directly impact whatever is actually getting me down.  Yet somehow the change in focus helps, even if only temporarily.

So, in light of my current feelings about TTC, I've decided I am going to devote myself to losing as much weight as I can for the next two break cycles.  To that end, I signed up to do the hCG diet.  (You can read more about the plan I will be doing here if you are interested.)  I hesitated at first because (1) it takes a lot of willpower to only eat 500 calories a day for three weeks, willpower I'm not sure I have, and (2) it costs more than I've ever spent on any diet program.  (I've done Weight Watchers multiple times, Jenny Craig more than once, Body for Life, the South Beach diet, and a few fad diets.)

Putting the cost in perspective, though, it is about the same as our out-of-pocket cost for an IUI cycle, if you include all the meds and scans.  The only difference for me is that I will be paying 100% of the cost, whereas MM and I share the costs of our treatment cycles.
Due to some logistical issues, I cannot start the diet until July 17.  (Have to see my doctor to get labwork done and the official go-ahead first.)  So until then, starting next Tuesday (my father & stepmother are in town through Tuesday, I am out of town all weekend, and I need a day when I get back to grocery shop), I am going to start eating all whole foods again.  No more processed stuff.  If we eat out, I will only have a salad without dressing with grilled chicken or fish.  I am also going to work out for at least 30 minutes six days a week.  (My BFF is currently doing "two-a-day" workouts to jump-start some weight loss.)  No more excuses!!

Following through on this plan should keep my mind pretty occupied, between working out (nearly) every day, planning menus, shopping for food, and preparing meals.  And I feel sure that, while losing weight may not increase my fertility, it certainly can't hurt.

I need to find something else to occupy my mind, too, but I am still mulling that over.  For years, I have talked about writing a novel, but despite signing up for National Novel Writing Month, I have never passed the "talking about it" stage.  Given my situation at work, I should probably be looking more actively for another position.  I read 2-3 novels per week already, and clearly that isn't helping.  And writing this blog, while a good outlet for me, doesn't exactly take my mind off TTC-related things.

Any suggestions?  Outdoor activities are out since it is close to a billion degrees here every day for the foreseeable future.

Monday, June 21, 2010


If I had to sum up how I feel after this latest BFN, "tired" would pretty much cover it.  Tired of trying and failing month after month.  Tired of letting my husband down and being the cause of his disappointment and sadness.  Tired of wasting money on treatments that clearly aren't helping.  Tired of putting up with medication side effects for nothing.  Tired of facing questions--spoken and unspoken--about whether and when we plan to have a child.  (These are obviously coming from people who don't know the details of our situation.  For those close to us who are in the know, they just don't ask anymore.)

Given how I'm feeling, I am glad we are not doing treatment the next two months.  I need a break.  The disappointment is still there every month that I'm not pregnant, even if we haven't used medical intervention, so the feelings of failure won't go away.  But at least we won't be wasting our money, and I won't have to put up with all the side effects of the various medications or the other physical discomforts of treatment.

As I said yesterday, I feel even worse for MM than for myself.  To add insult to injury, shortly after getting my BFN yesterday morning, he got a call from one of the felons he supervises.  This 22-year-old man has three children who are in the custody of Child Protective Services.  (I'm sure he's an EXCELLENT father.)  His schedule had not included a visit with them for Father's Day, and he needed to get his P.O.'s (MM's) permission to deviate from his planned schedule so that he could see them.  MM was very bitter about the fact that this convicted felon, who the state has deemed unfit to parent, would be spending the day with his three children while MM spent another childless Father's Day.

On top of that, because my father & stepmother were here, MM had to spend the day doing things as a group with the three of us, when he would have preferred to be alone, I'm sure.  And we also did not spend the day doing things he wanted to do.  I feel bad, but it could not really be helped.

On a more positive note, my visit with my father & stepmother has been going fine.  They seem to be enjoying themselves.  I haven't gotten in an argument with my father, and so far as I know, I have managed not to say anything to upset my stepmother this weekend.  They are staying through tonight, when we will be going to a baseball game (Yankees vs. Diamondbacks), and they will be leaving tomorrow morning.  So if I can just get through the game without any conflict, I will be in the clear until the next visit. . . . which probably won't be until the holidays, I'd imagine.

I'm not sure how much I will be writing here in the weeks to come while we are not doing treatment.  I have reached a point where I feel a bit like a broken record writing about my feelings related to my inability to conceive, because I have written about these feelings so many times before.  And really, I am kind of resigned at this point.

Were it just up to me, I would be ready to just completely give up TTC and accept that I will live a childless life.  Continually trying and failing at anything is simply something that I normally do not do.  I have always lived my life by the philosophy "If it doesn't come easy, don't try to force it."  Unfortunately, MM does not feel the same way, so we will continue to try, hoping that somehow, some way, against the odds, we will be successful.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another BFN

And another failed cycle.

I am especially sad for MM this time.  What a bit of news to get first thing in the morning on Father's Day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Random Musings

  • I don't know if I've mentioned recently how grateful I am to be a part of such a supportive online community.  I have learned so much from reading the blogs of other women dealing with infertility, and the emotional support I've gotten from the people who comment on my blog is really invaluable.  In light of the uncharacteristic UNsupportive comments I have seen on a few blogs of late, I wanted to give a shout-out to all of you who are unfailingly supportive.  You rock!
  • Friday has brought a few more potential symptoms. . . or prog.est.erone side effects, depending on your perspective.  I have been tired; I have had off-and-on crampiness in my lower abdomen; and I felt decidedly nauseated after lunch and intermittently through the rest of the afternoon.  I know that these things may well mean nothing but wanted to record them here, just in case they turn out to be significant.
  • I must admit, I am not really looking forward to seeing my father and stepmother tomorrow so soon after just spending the weekend with them last week.  In addition to my stepmother's comments about her great-granddaughter, which I wrote about, I also got into an argument with my father.  Though arguing is by no means a rare occurrence between us, it does make me less desirous of seeing him again soon.  Alas, I have no control over setting a date for Father's Day or when the Yankees come to town for inter-league play (the REAL reason for my father's visit).  At least MM will be there; having him present changes the group dynamics in a good way.
  • I feel a little weighed down by negativity lately.  We had a layoff at my office this week due to decreased workload.  The layoff did not affect me much directly but did make me worry a little about my own job.  My interactions with my dad & stepmom last weekend brought me down.  A few of my friends are apparently going through love life and/or family issues, so when I have called them recently hoping for a fun, friendly chat, instead I have ended up lending an ear and playing therapist.  I don't usually mind, but I am just feel particularly tired emotionally and less capable than usual of offering support.
  • Having said the above, I have plenty of things to look forward to.  I am seeing several dear, old friends next weekend, including someone who was once one of my closest friends.  We have drifted a little due to distance, but it will be great to see her; it's been over three years.  MM and I have two fun (short) trips planned this summer, and it's looking like my sister & nephew are coming out here for Labor Day weekend--hooray!
  • Two more sleeps until I test.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Today is 11 DP IUI.  As I do every cycle, I have been trying to refrain from over-analyzing every little thing going on in my body. . . . but as I'm sure anyone reads this knows, it's a little difficult.  It's even harder when you have a husband like MM who asks at least every other third day or so whether you "feel different."  

Looking back, I have had a lot of general fatigue in the 2WW during every cycle in which I've used the prog.est.erone gel.  Oddly, though, I really haven't been that tired this 2WW.  I did have a migraine yesterday (after posting about how much my headaches have decreased recently; I tell ya, the Universe does like to f$%^ with me), and headaches can also be a side effect of prog.est.erone.  (Migraines are also triggered by hormonal fluctuations. . . . which makes me think "Hmmm.")

I have also had the odd, occasional crampy feeling in my lower abdomen.  Could be my uterus, could be gas--who knows.  My breasts are not generally sore or swollen, as they have been in some past cycles, but I have had a few out-of-blue, one-sided twinges of pain.  Both of these symptoms could be prog.est.erone-related, too.

To me, these last few days before testing are the hardest for me.  I am at a point where I might conceivably start having some symptoms of very early pregnancy if, in fact, I am pregnant.  Implantation might have already occurred, or be occurring, if it is going to happen this cycle.  But it's too soon to really EXPECT symptoms or to be able to take a HPT and rely on its accuracy.  (My mother and sister have both told me they had zero symptoms until at least 6 weeks, and with my chemical pregnancy last summer, I had no symptoms.  In fact, I thought I'd had a "normal" period.)

So I do the only thing I can.  Wait.  Impatiently.

I am glad that I am pretty busy at the moment.  Not having time to "very early pregnancy symptoms" for the twentieth time is a good thing.  ;-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I am getting a little ahead of myself by posting this, but MM and I have agreed that if I am not pregnant at the end of this cycle, we are going to take a couple of months off from treatment.  We have two upcoming trips: a weekend trip to San Diego in mid July, and a three-day trip to Chicago in mid August.  Between these two trips, we will be using up the disposable income which we might otherwise use for fertility drugs and IUIs during those months, and we would prefer not to go into debt at this point. . . . especially when we may be looking at donor egg IVF somewhere down the line.

I have discussed here recently my desire to take a break from treatments.  (By the way, hats off to those of you reading who continue cycling month after month, sometimes for years, with no break.  I just can't do it . . . either because I cannot tolerate the ups and downs, or because I cannot coordinate things with my work schedule, or both.)  I intend to take advantage of our break to work out more often and more vigorously and to try and lose some weight.  I have talked about this on a few occasions but really have not followed through.  

I am still on the fence about whether to do a strict diet with medical intervention or to just go back to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, both of which have worked for me in the past.  I would love to have the rapid weight loss that would occur on the hCG diet or on Medifast or the like, but I'm just not sure I have the willpower to pull that off.  Plus our trips will make following a very restrictive eating plan even more difficult than usual.

MM already goes to the gym 5-6 days a week, so I could certainly just go with him.  Also, I bought a Groupon for 12 one-hour sessions of "boot camp" which must be used consecutively, three sessions a week for four weeks.  (It was a smokin' deal: usual price $249, Groupon price $29).  I could use that.  I have to use it at some point before it expires next May.

My headaches have actually already improved a lot since I have completely cut out caffeine and a whole slew of other potential migraine triggers.  That is not to say that I have had no headaches at all, but in the past two weeks, I have only had two headaches, and only one of those was a migraine.  I have only taken one dose of Excedrin.  One.  (BTW, I do realize that Excedin contains caffeine, though not as much as a strong cup of coffee.)  Two weeks with only two headaches is a HUGE improvement for me, and I had grown accustomed to taking analgesics often.  So at least that's one thing I don't really need to "work on" during our (anticipated) break.

Whether Sunday's HPT is a BFP or a BFN, I won't be doing treatment in July and August at least.  Let's hope it's the former.  If it's yet another BFN, we will start treatment again the cycle after we return from Chicago. . . . probably in September.  And if it's a BFP, I pray it will be a healthy pregnancy that doesn't end until we take a healthy baby home from the hospital about nine months later.

MM has expressed a desire to be "done with these IUIs" before the end of 2010.  I am not in disagreement with him.  (Obviously we both hope that I will be pregnant by then.)  Our insurance will only cover a portion of six IUIs, lifetime, and we have already done four as of today, so we only have two more left.  Even if, worst case scenario, IUI #4 and #5 (planned in September) are BFNs, we will still have plenty of time to fit in IUI #6 before the year ends.

It's nice to know that there is an end in sight, one way or another.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What a cute baby!

An exchange I had with my stepmother this past weekend made me wonder whether I am odd and whether I should have acted differently.  (Note: either could be true, and it would not be the first time.)

I should start by saying that I am usually honest to a fault.  I will admit that I have sometimes been accused of being too blunt as well.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not one to use false flattery or mince words.

Because I don't believe in lying, I generally will not say that a baby/child is attractive if I don't genuinely think s/he is.  I will usually find something else positive to say about the child ("Wow! He has a lot of hair for a little guy" or "Aw, look how peaceful/innocent/strong/happy she looks"), but I will not comment that I think the child is attractive if, in my view, s/he is, in fact, average or unattractive.

(BTW, clearly I am not one of those people who thinks "All babies are beautiful."  While I love the purity and innocence of babies and small children, just like adults, they are not always good-looking.  I also realize that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.")

The easier situations in which to avoid a white lie about appearance are when you are actually interacting with the child.  It is then easy to focus on his/her immediate behaviors, rather than on looks.  Every baby or small child DOES cute things, even if s/he is not particularly attractive.  It's more difficult to be diplomatic and say something nice when you are only seeing the child in a photo.

As further background, let me mention that my stepmother and I are not particularly close.  My father married her when I was already an adult.  You should also know that she and my father do not know about our IF or treatment.  (I wrote more about her and why they are not in the loop here.)

This brings me to the situation for which I am interested in others' opinions.  While with my family last weekend, my stepmother wanted to show me a recent photo of her  now-22-month-old great-granddaughter.  My stepmother was a mother at 16 and a grandmother by my age.  Her second-oldest granddaughter became a mother for the first time in August 2008.  Needless to say, the photo was not the first one I've seen of this child; every time I have seen my stepmother since her birth, she has had new photos of "R" to show me.  As likely any great-grandmother would be, she is very proud of her (so far only) great-grandchild.

My stepmother pulled up the photo on her mobile phone while we were out on a boat on the lake.  (I wish there was a way for me to post it here.)  The photo showed an average-looking toddler girl with short, curly medium-brown hair who slightly resembled her mother, tightly hugging a stuffed Elmo smushed close to her face.

I looked at the photo for a few seconds and said "Aw, looks like she really loves her Elmo, how sweet" and handed the phone back to my stepmother.  At that moment, no more was said on the matter.

Later that day, in the evening, my father was telling a story about R from when they visited her last in April.  While telling his story, my father made to get his wife's mobile phone to show me the same photo she had shown me earlier.  I told him that I had seen the photo earlier on the boat (which he did not realize because he was not in the immediate area).

At which point my stepmother (snarkily) said "Yeah, and you didn't show much interest in it either."

I replied that I had looked at the photo, commented on it, and wasn't sure what else she expected me to do.  To which she responded "You could have said what a beautiful child she is."

It was on the tip of my tongue to say "If I thought she WAS a beautiful child, I would have said so, beyotch" and "Maybe the reason I'm not more interested in your $%&^ great-grandchild is because I have been trying to have a baby of my own for two years, while your underemployed, uneducated granddaughter had no trouble popping one out at age 25."  But I held my tongue.  I have kept her and my dad in the dark about our TTC efforts for a reason, and I don't intend to change that decision now.  I also didn't want to get into an argument with her when I had to spend the rest of the weekend (and the next weekend coming up) with them.  I think that instead I just shrugged and said "OK. . ."

Bear in mind, this is a child whom I have not seen, and am unlikely to see, in person.  While I have been shown photos of her by my stepmother during each time we have seen one another since R was born in August 2008, I have never seen her face-to-face or interacted with her.  I've never seen how "cute" she is, in terms of "cute" behavior.

Let me also add, in case you might think this relevant, that I don't really have a relationship to speak of with the child's mother, my stepmother's granddaughter.  Obviously I have heard about her (and her twin sister) often over the years, but the child's mother lives in North Carolina, and I have only seen her in person once in the over 20 years that my father has been married to my stepmom.  And that single meeting was brief and several years ago, when she traveled to the state where my father and stepmother live for her cousin's graduation.  I doubt I could pick the granddaughter out of a line-up and could easily pass her on a street--if we lived near one another, which we do not--without knowing it was her.

Looking back, I wonder if I should have just lied.  If I shouldn't have just (falsely) gushed about R's cuteness in the first place when my stepmother showed me her photo.

But on the other hand, I think that I was diplomatic, while not effusive, in my comment.  I certainly did not ignore the proffered photo and spent a few seconds looking at it.

(Clearly there is a lot of history between my stepmother and me that I am not going into here.  Suffice it to say, our biggest conflict over the 20+ years she has been married to my dad is that she wants me to view her as a mother, and I don't.  Being an adult when my dad married her, with a living mother who is part of my life, I view her as my father's wife.)

So what say you?  Was I wrong not to exclaim effusively over the cuteness of R, even though I didn't think she was exceptionally cute?  Should I have just lied?

(In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I ran this scenario past some coworkers, and opinions were mixed on whether I acted appropriately or not.)

Feel free to be honest.  What's done is done, but perhaps if a majority of people think I was wrong, I will act differently if/when I find myself in a similar situation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

8dpIUI & weekend re-cap

There's nothing like a weekend away from the usual routine to get the mind off TTC.  This past Thursday evening, I traveled to my home state to see my sister and her family while she was home for her 20th high school reunion.  It was wonderful to see my 3-year-old nephew again, though, sadly, I don't think he initially remembered me; it had been nearly nine months since our last visit, too long.

Between entertaining and supervising him; talking with my sister, BIL, father, and stepmother; boating one day; and staying up way too late, there wasn't much time to dwell on the fact that I am in the 2WW.  Which was good.

(I will say that the phenomenon of my seeing pregnant women everywhere continued.  The clerk who checked me out at the rental car counter, the clerk at a gas station, and a patron in the restaurant where we had dinner Saturday night were all pregnant, and the waitress at Friday night's restaurant mentioned that she is soon going to be a grandmother.  *sigh*)

As always, it was a joy to be with nephew. . . . and as always, oddly enough, being with him did not make me sad about the fact that I don't yet have my own child.  (Actually, there were a few moments when he was misbehaving that made me glad I'm not a parent.  ;-)  )

It was back to reality this morning.  Sadly, I woke up still feeling tired and with a headache.  Not sure if the headache is a "symptom" of something, a side effect of progesterone gel, or just caused by travel and fatigue.  My guess would be due to travel and fatigue.

In addition to my trip, things have been stressful at work, and though that sucks, that also gives me something to focus on other than obsessing over potential symptoms in the 2WW.  My firm laid off a part-time legal nurse consultant last week due to a lack of work, and I have been experiencing the same decrease in workload. . . . which is not a good thing when your salary is tied at least in part to the amount of billable work you do.  Not sure what's going to happen there.

This week is going to be a busy one.  I actually have a few depositions to attend, and a friend of mine is coming into town to stay one night with us on Thursday.  I have lunch with another friend on Friday, and my father and stepmother arrive Saturday afternoon.  I am woefully behind on all the usual chores of daily life--laundry, filing, car washing--and wrapping up some projects at work.

I hope all of this activity will help to keep my mind occupied for next six days before I test on Sunday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


By the time this posts, I will be on a plane bound for "the homeland." I will be without internet for most of my trip, so this post will be my last until early next week sometime.

Looking forward to seeing my beloved nephew!!


I have written about some new age-y things on here recently.  I am not usually one to use these practices in my daily life--though I will admit to being interested in them and enjoying reading about them--but infertility has brought me to a new level of desperation in terms of what I am willing to try.

While visiting one of my many infertility-related blogs today (the sidebar is only a partial list), I followed a series of links and ended up at this site.  (Apologies to the author of the original site which led me there; I can't remember which site it was!)  The site lists positive affirmations for fertility.

A few of the affirmations resonated with me, so I have printed them out in a pretty font to post in various areas around my house and office (though the ones in the office will have to be tucked away where others can't see them).  I figure hey!  It can't hurt, and it might help.  Here are the ones I choose:

I allow my creative energies to work through me and bring me a healthy pregnancy and baby.

I deserve the best outcome and with joy I am thankful of a new life.

I welcome my time to be a parent.

I now release all my fears and concerns about infertility and I declare myself fertile.

I now release all emotional blocks that prevent me from conceiving a baby.

I accept the gift of life within myself.

I accept the responsibilities of motherhood, and I know I will rise to the occasion when the time comes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What I have done

Things I have done in hopes of increasing our chances of having a baby:
  • Taken and charted my basal body temperature daily for nearly a year
  • Peed on hundreds of sticks so I could use a Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor and ovulation prediction kits
  • Taken a prenatal vitamin every day for over two years
  • Taken fish oil capsules daily for over two years
  • Taken evening primrose oil (to increase my fertile cervical mucus)
  • Used PreSeed lubricant (even though my husband hates it)
  • Made sure that we had intercourse at least twice during every fertile window for the past 27 cycles (whether it was convenient/desirable or not)
  • Remained lying down, with my hips elevated, after each baby-making session for at least 15-20 minutes
  • Gone for acupuncture every week for three months
  • Taken herbs prescribed by a TCM doctor three times a day for three months
  • Gave myself an injection for the first time  (I'm practically an old pro now!)
  • Taken Clomid and hCG for six cycles, Follistim for three cycles, and Gonal-F for a cycle
  • Developed a huge, painful welt on my abdomen from Pregnyl which took nearly three weeks to go away
  • Endured the vaginal dryness and discomfort that go along with using progesterone gel for six cycles and its resultant effect on our sex life, as well as the many side effects which mimic early pregnancy symptoms (fatigue, sore breasts, cramps)
  • Suffered through painful bloating before, during and after ovulation (which I never had before treatment)
  • Endured at least eight transvaginal ultrasounds, at least four separate blood draws, and a HSG
  • Gone through four IUIs
  • Drank a shot of wheatgrass daily
  • Dictated to my husband when we could have sex and even when he could masturbate, based on our RE's instructions

Things I would normally do but have refrained from doing in hopes of increasing our chances of having a baby:
  • Drinking coffee (I had to quit it twice because I slipped back into the habit)
  • Eating sugar and white flour (though admittedly not consistently)
  • Taking NSAIDs & aspirin
  • Taking Imitrex for my migraines
  • Taking the daily herbal supplement I take to prevent migraines
  • Eating sushi or soft cheeses during every 2WW
  • Intense workouts during every 2WW
  • Using our hot tub during every 2WW
  • Buying things for Future Baby M (for fear it will "jinx" us, per MM. . . though I have had three slip-ups in two years)
Yet despite all the things we have done, if we aren't successful with IUIs and choose not to go on to IVF, there are people in our life who will think that we didn't do enough.

I'd like to ask some of them what they did to have their children. . . . with permission to pimp slap them if all they did was stop using birth control and have sex.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2dpIUI #4

I am once again in the 2WW.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am slated to test on 6/20, Father's Day.  My father and stepmother, who are not in the know about our TTC efforts and treatment, are going to be visiting, so I am going to have to be stealthy about testing.  I have already cautioned MM that he needs to conceal any reaction to either a negative or a positive test from them, as I would not be planning to tell them either way (even if I am pregnant, I would wait until the second trimester to tell my father and stepmother).  We'll see how that goes.  Historically, a BFN has induced an all-day funk in MM.  It'll be interesting to see him hide his emotions from my dad & stepmom.

At this early stage, two days after the IUI, I wouldn't expect to have any symptoms, and I've had none.  (I have been feeling a little anxious, but I think that is more due to a situation going on at work than to anything TTC-related.)  That will probably change soon, as I will be starting progesterone gel tonight (yuck) and usually have some side effects from that.  I was very bloated and uncomfortable the day of and two days following last cycle's IUI, so I am especially glad to be feeling normal this time around.

I am going out of town on Thursday evening.  I'm traveling to my (very small) hometown in New Mexico to see my sister and nephew, who will be there for my sister's 20th high school reunion.  I am very much looking forward to seeing them both!  (MM has to work this weekend and is staying home with the doggies.)

There have been a few BFPs among my blogging pals these past couple of weeks, and I'm happy for them.  Still not happy for fertile acquaintances having kids, though: I saw another law school classmate's post on Fac.eb.ook last night that he and his wife are expecting their second child.  I did not post congratulations, and I was not happy for them.  LOL  I'm such a bad person. . . . .

Sunday, June 6, 2010

IUI #4

Just a quick update on this morning's IUI. MM was very proud that his total motile count was 68 million. When he came home, he'd told me that he didn't think he produced much, but his numbers were actually better than last month. Go figure.

The IUI itself was wholly uneventful. The clinic was busy; the nurse (who was new to me) told me that I was their 5th IUI of the morning, not to mention the IVF patients they also had.

I only had a little bit of cramping this time. Now my goal for the day is to stay cool. That may not be as easy as it sounds, given that the forecast high for Tuscon is 108 and for Phoenix is 110.

My test date is two weeks from today, Father's Day.  Ironic, no?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Of course

This morning's OPK was positive.  So I took my hCG trigger injection shortly after getting off the phone with the nurse who returned my call to the RE's nurse line, and our IUI has been rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:30.

MM and I both had a feeling this was going to happen.  This has happened to us twice before.  When my lead follicle is already well over 20 mm, my body usually ovulates on its own.  (MM was inclined to curse my body for producing its own LH surge, but I pointed out that my body is only doing what it is supposed to do, what is natural.)

Normally I would be happy about this, because I'd prefer to do my IUI on the weekend, rather than miss time from work, but in this case, rescheduling the IUI to tomorrow is very inconvenient.  I have to drive the 120+ miles from home to Tucson tomorrow to visit M, the 10-year-old girl in foster care for whom I am a CASA.  I cannot reschedule the visit because tomorrow is literally the only free day I have in June to see M, whom I am obligated to visit at least once every month.  My next opportunity to visit her would not be until July 4th weekend if I canceled.

In addition to the fact that I am going to have to do more than 250 miles or so of driving tomorrow, the first half starting right after my IUI, I had planned to take M to a water park.  That plan is, of course, out the window because I won't go swimming just hours after the IUI and can't allow myself to get overheated. . . . which would be bound to happen at an outdoor pool when the daytime high is expected to be over 100 degrees tomorrow.  M was disappointed at the change of plans--for which I could only offer a vague explanation--but I will make it up to her by taking her to the water park for our July visit.

So today will be a long day.  Oh well.  I am planning on taking M on a much cooler (temperature-wise) outing than planned and will stay well-hydrated.  I hope I don't feel quite as icky and bloated as I did last month after my IUI.

I hope my 15-mm and 16-mm follicles have done enough additional growing since yesterday's u/s that they will be releasing mature eggs.  Though, really, our ideal outcome would be one healthy, perfect egg being fertilized.  I'm not picky about how that occurs. . . . I just want it to happen.

Will update tomorrow after the IUI to record the experience (and MM's total motile count) for posterity. . . . 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cycle 27 monitoring u/s

So I kind-of got my wish: I have four follicles which were large enough to be detected on u/s.  The two on the right measured 15 mm each, and of the two on the left, one measured 16 mm and the other measured 23 mm.

Currently I am scheduled to trigger tomorrow night at 11:30 p.m., with an IUI scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Monday.  One thing that may throw a wrench into our plans, though, is if my body begins to create its own LH surge.  If that happens, I will have to trigger during the day tomorrow and have my IUI on Sunday morning.  Which in and of itself would not be horrible, but if I begin to ovulate on my own, before the trigger, there is a distinct possibility that three of my follicles will not yet be large enough to contain a mature egg.  

As I understand it, because the follicles continue to grow 1-2 mm per day until they release their eggs, if I wait until tomorrow night to trigger for a Monday morning IUI, there is a very good possibility that all four follicles will contain (and release) a mature egg.  (I'm told that each follicle would need to be at least 16-17 mm to be considered mature.)  Four chances are better than one, so I am hoping that's what happens.

Nurse Favorite said my lining looked "great, textbook" at 9 mm.  So despite having used Clomid for the fifth sixth cycle, that's not a problem.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow's OPK is negative.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ebb and Flow

I find it interesting how I sometimes have a lot of thoughts and feelings related to infertility that I feel the need to write about, and other times I seem to have nothing to say.  These past few days have been one of those "nothing to say" times.  I haven't been feeling much angst, sadness, anger, etc., about the fact that we still don't have a baby, more than two years after beginning TTC.  I have basically just been taking each day as it comes and doing what I have to do each day (drugs, OPKs) for this cycle.

I suppose it is just a natural ebb and flow.  Even though it is a little perplexing, I am actually glad to not have the constant flow of negative thoughts and emotions at the moment.  What a relief!  (If only they were gone for good. . . . )

I am still feeling a little tired today, but nowhere near how I felt yesterday.  (I seriously only had about an hour in the evening when I had energy and felt like I was dragging myself along the rest of the day.)  I did consult Dr. Go.ogle and found that fatigue is a documented, though not common, side effect of both Clomid and Gonal-F.  So at this point I'm going with medication side effect as the cause of my unusual fatigue.

Tonight is my last injection of Gonal-F (yea!), and tomorrow afternoon is my mid-cycle monitoring u/s.  I better have at least four follicles large enough to contain mature eggs this cycle or, I admit, I am going to be angry.  So don't let me down, ovaries.  ;-)

Will update with my u/s results tomorrow.

P.S. I mentioned taking DHEA to improve egg quality in an earlier post.  I have also done a "shot" of wheat grass three of the last four days. . . . which is supposed to give you energy in addition to helping your health in a number of ways.  I'm toying with the idea of using CoQ10 and/or royal jelly, too.  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is it just me?

I am feeling absolutely exhausted today for no reason I can pinpoint.  I have been eating healthfully and at regular intervals.  I have exercised for 30 minutes (or more) three of the past four days.  I drink lots of water.  I sleep at least 8 hours a night, every night.  I no longer drink anything with caffeine, so that can't be a potential cause of my fatigue.

I had blood tests last October to check my thyroid and to check for anemia.  They were all normal.  While I occasionally snore, MM has never noticed any other signs of sleep apnea (and he is a light sleeper who would notice).  I feel like I sleep soundly at night and wake up before my alarm most mornings.

Could being this tired just be a side effect of the Clomid and Gonal-F?  It's not even 11:00 a.m. here, and I feel as though I could go back to bed and sleep for another couple of hours.

Has anyone else experienced this?

It's times like this when I really miss coffee.  *Yawn*

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Focusing on other things

I haven't posted in a few days simply because I haven't had much to write about.  Our current cycle is proceeding as planned, and I will begin using OPKs daily on Tuesday.  Not much to tell on that front until my mid-cycle u/s on Friday.  (Oh, one quick minor complaint: the needles on the syringes provided with the Gonal-F are much larger than the needles I used with the Follistim pen.  They are at least three times the length and about three times as big around, too.  Ugh.  I know that my little subcutaneous injections are nothing compared to what anyone who has done an IVF cycle has endured. . . . but I've still been unpleasantly surprised by the difference.)

Oddly, I thought quite a bit this weekend about taking a break after this cycle if I'm not pregnant.  It's not so much that I feel the need for a break, physically or mentally, as it is that I'd like to focus on other things which are difficult to do while TTC. 

For example, I need to lose weight.  While I can do this slowly through a healthier diet and exercise, I'd like to have the ability to jump-start my weight loss with something like the hCG diet or MediFast.  I think it would help me tremendously to see a large initial weight loss, and that is not realistic (or healthy) while I am TTC and taking fertility drugs.  Honestly, given what I've read of others' weight gain on fertility drugs, I count myself fortunate that I weigh within 5 lbs of what I did when we started treatments (albeit still much more than I should weigh).

I also feel hesitant to exercise as vigorously as I'd like to while TTC, at least during the second half of my cycle.  I have no problem doing intense aerobic workouts prior to ovulation and actually am of the belief that they probably help more than they hurt by increasing blood flow to my entire body, including my ovaries.  After ovulation, though, our RE has cautioned me not to do anything that raises my body temperature, and I am afraid that any vigorous exercise also runs the risk of "jarring loose" an embryo who may be trying to implant.  (Not sure if there is any science behind that second part, but it's my mind.)  Given that I am in a part of the country where the daytime highs regularly hit 100 degrees and above this time of year, any exercise that makes me sweat at all seems risky during the 2WW.
Not being able to work out as intensely for half the month obviously adversely affects my ability to lose weight, even if I am eating healthfully.  It doesn't make it impossible, but it does make it harder.

Along with being overweight, I also have high cholesterol.  Losing weight would likely help to lower my cholesterol levels, but if it did not, my PCP has told me that I should be on a statin to lower my cholesterol.  Statins cannot be taken by any woman who is "nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant," so until we give up TTC or I reach menopause, whatever comes first, they are not a treatment option for me.

Also, I think I've written here before about the fact that I suffer from migraines.  (I have since I was 15).  Given that hormone fluctuations are a known migraine trigger, it's probably not surprising that I have been having more migraines in the past year-and-a-half or so than I did before.  I've mentioned in prior posts that I have had to give up all the drugs I used to rely on for migraine control since starting treatment--Advil, Imitrex, and even Excedrin--and how that has adversely affected me.

I would really like to get my migraines down to the infrequent level they had been at for many years prior to TTC, but I wonder if this is even possible while we are still undergoing treatment.  Currently I am averaging at least one day of missed work a month due to migraines (not to mention the days I have migraines which don't occur during work hours).  I know that this is not a high frequency compared to many migraine sufferers, but it is much higher than usual for me, and it's obvious that missing all this work is not a good thing.

Sure, I can modify my diet to eliminate as many triggers as possible--something I have already done to a large extent and am currently working on doing more diligently and completely--but I can't help but think that so long as I am putting drugs like Clomid into my body, no amount of dietary change is going to get rid of my migraines.  I mean, Clomid works by "tricking" the body into thinking that estrogen levels are low and that it should produce more estrogen.  Obviously taking it is going to increase the estrogen levels in my bloodstream.  I'm not sure of the effects of the injectable gonadotropins I am also using, but I know that they affect the levels of some hormones in order to work.

I've cut out alcohol, caffeine and MSG.  I am currently cutting out a whole list of other foods which have been identified as dietary triggers of migraine (many of which are foods I used to eat regularly).  I am exercising regularly again, and I have always been good about staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.  I just don't know if all this will be enough to cut down on the frequency and severity while I continue to use fertility drugs. . . . particularly given the fact that the most effective forms of drug treatment for migraines, anti-inflammatories, are off-limits while TTC.

And forget about any daily migraine preventatives while TTC.  Those are off-limits as well.

Ironic as it sounds, I guess the bottom line is that I want to take a break after this cycle to take better care of myself.  Losing weight and decreasing the frequency and severity of my migraines would only be good for me.

On the other hand, the clock is ticking.  I am 39, and my eggs are not getting any younger.  Even if we are successful in getting pregnant this cycle, I would be nearly 40 before I gave birth.  (Side note: this cycle is our last chance to conceive a baby with a due date before my 40th birthday.)  I feel very much that "time is of the essence" and that there isn't any time to spare.

I don't know.  For now, I am just living each day as it comes and following my protocol for this cycle.  If I don't get pregnant this cycle, I can give the idea of a break some more thought.

P.S. In reading back over this post, I think I have made myself sound very unhealthy, though I have never thought of myself that way.  I have spent my entire adult life overweight to one degree or another,  though I never had high cholesterol until the past two years, and my migraines are just something that I live with, like many people live with other chronic ailments like allergies or diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.