Happy Day

I slept like crap. I kept waking up and then, this morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a freighter. I looked in the mirror and though, seriously? I look like I just escaped from a maximum-security women’s prison. Yikes!

However…the day has gotten off to a better start. My husband took the morning off so he could be here for the “meet and greet” with a guy who’s supposed to be doing some home repairs after the little disaster before Christmas. If you’ve read my previous posts, you might remember me mentioning the buffoon who’d come to our house a few weeks ago and trampled all over our house with his street shoes on – including my bathtub. Now, I’m not a germaphobe in a clinical sense, but that’s just nasty. To boot, Mr. Disgusting almost gave us a heart attack with how much the project was going to cost – without even giving us an estimate. I kept pressing the issue and he kept side-stepping it. Now…I’m not an idiot, and I’m sure as hell not going to hire someone for a major home repair without a written estimate. The whole situation left me feeling frustrated and annoyed – mostly because we’re trying to save money and any unanticipated expenses are just one more thing that’s keeping us from meeting our goal. 

So I was pleasantly surprised by the scruffy guy who turned up on our doorstep just now. While Mr. Disgusting looked like he could’ve just come from a yacht club (where, apparently, no one informed him of professional etiquette), Scruffy seems to be the sort of no-nonsense, unpretentious type of person who’s focused on doing the job, and doing it right. To boot, he’s retired military – which I have a HUGE amount of respect for. Scruffy, for all his “less refined” dress sense, actually took off his shoes before heading to the area to be investigated – and then it appears that the project is going to cost even less than what the office manager had quoted my husband. Can you say BEST NEWS EVER?? (You know, taking into account the context – obviously there are other things that would be better news but hey, you take what you can get, right? 🙂

Right now, Scruffy is hard at work and I fled the scene because of the smell of whatever he’s using – I figure I don’t need another strike against my (in)fertility and possible make things even worse than they already are. I offered him some water, which he politely declined – so I’m patiently waiting for the work to be completed. I like people who are professional and polite. I don’t like people who are overly effusive in that hypocritical, fake, and “sales pitch” style – it usually doesn’t work on me anymore since I’ve gotten burned one too many times in my younger (and more naive) days. The good news is that, according to Scruffy, the problem isn’t nearly as extensive as we were made to believe by Mr. Disgusting – so I’m really glad we didn’t agree to shell out thousands of (unnecessary) Dollars that would put a serious dent in our IVF fund. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Disgusting never did email my husband the written estimates I insisted upon – just another reason I think the guy was totally shady. 

Anyway – I think today is one of those days that reminds me, in a rather rudimentary way, to be happy about and grateful for the little things. Even if it’s just mundane and boring, in a way, I’m just so glad right now that – as far as we can tell at the moment – the problem will get fixed for a fraction of the cost we thought we were looking at. Hopefully this will be the end of it for now. 

Meanwhile, I can’t seem to stop yawning because of the really bad night I had – replete with weird dreams, heart palpitations etc. So I’m extra grateful, today especially, that I have the “luxury” of putting my lounge pants on after Scruffy leaves and just sort of wiling away the day until my husband comes home tonight and we can have a nice meal together. The weekend will probably be busy as there’s much to do: top of the list being the clean-up of the garage and sorting out of things we can donate or sell in our efforts to scrounge together enough money for making a baby the new-fashioned way. Here’s hoping that 2014 will be our year – and yours! 🙂

Motivated 12-Month-Old Seeks New Opportunities

So I just had to share this because it’s not just hilariously well-written and such a lovely way to, perhaps, air some frustration in a “constructive” way – but seriously, I’m thinking that’s a little genius kid 🙂

Dear Hiring Manger,

I am pleased to submit my application for your Part Time Kitchen Assistant vacancy. I have 12 months of strong background in the home kitchen industry. My current supervisor’s selfish need to make me breakfast and hand scrub my sippy cups has resulted in an ability to work independently and make high-level decisions with minimal supervision. Although I am grateful for the experience I’ve been afforded, I am seeking a new environment where creativity and innovation are celebrated, instead of met with exasperated sighs.

I am confident you will see that my application outshines that of my peers. Here are just a few examples of some strengths I bring to the table:

  • Maintain impeccable cleanliness standards through the identification and consumption of stray pieces of dog food, remnants from last night’s dinner, and other varia.
  • Assist in loading and unloading the dishwasher wherever applicable. Recognized for expertise…

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Where did IT go?

When one of our nephews was very little, he had this really funny, super cute way of saying “where did it go?” whenever you played ball with him. Because he was so little and couldn’t enunciate very well yet, it sounded more like “wheredeego?”. He’d look at you with his big eyes and actually shrug, his arms at an angle and his hands in the air. It’s was so funny and so adorable that, well over a decade later, I still remember it. I also remember that it was the first time I felt that pang in my heart, the thought of having children with my husband.

What made me think about this today is the fact that I feel like I’ve lost my zest of life. I feel gray and drab pretty much most of the time. I try hard to lift my spirits and count my blessings, to move forward in a more positive way – but, honestly, I kind of feel like I’m down for the count. I keep dusting myself off and getting back up, but rather than standing tall, I feel like I’m crouched like an old, arthritic woman. I can’t remember the last time I actually wore lipstick, heels, jewelry or anything else I used to revel in doing. My skin and my hair look lackluster to me, and so on top of all the other mental crap, it’s like another nail in the coffin: I feel like a loser.

Today, I’m trying to get back to my motivational journal. I started it about 6 years ago – and even the way I wrote it in it back then conveys so much more energy and “attitude” than I can bring to the table these days. I sat at our dining room table after breakfast and thought, ok – I need these visual cues. I need to remind myself of who I am, deep down – and make myself a “scrapbook” of sorts to get me back on track. But I’m flailing.The motivational cues and sayings are falling flat before my eyes because I just don’t believe any of it, right now. I can feel it because I’m not enjoying the process like I used to. I feel like I’m faking it. I don’t know where IT went: my life force, for lack of a better term. I’m not really a weak person, generally speaking; but in the past year or so, I often feel like the fight is just drained out of me and I’m too tired to keep trying to make my life into something I can love, again – even if it’s not the life I thought I’d be leading at this point.

I keep thinking about a quote by Margaret Thatcher that I read somewhere a long time ago:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.”

It gives me pause because I feel like none of my good habits have survived the onslaught of IF, the family strife and the grief following the death of several of them. I feel like I’ve become more closed-minded, resentful and judgmental – none of those things are what I want to be, obviously. Sometimes I don’t even realize how much of myself I’ve lost until I see it reflected in the eyes of someone else – through their words, their perception, of how I come across to others. At times, I want to cry and say, THIS ISN’T ME! I’m not really like this!! I used to be funny – so funny, in fact, that when I was in college people kept telling me I should be on Friends. I made people laugh – and that, in turn, made me happy. I enjoyed being around others, talking about anything and everything, learning about their experiences without judgment.

This, in turn, brings me to the other issue that I know is playing a big role in my state of mind right now is how isolated I’ve allowed myself to become because of IF. I’m so terrified, at this point, of having to field questions about our childless state that I haven’t tried to make new friends or socialize in a long, long time – longer, in fact, than I can believe or admit. And this is a vicious circle: the more time I spend alone with all those thoughts and anxieties, the more I turn into a nervous wreck – to the point where, as horrible as it is to fess up about something I’m incredibly embarrassed about, I honestly don’t know how to connect with others anymore.

It used to be so easy for me. I was always really outgoing, vivacious – one of those people who loved “getting out there”, mingle, meeting new people, having fun. Shy, me? Not on your life! Social situations never really worried or scared me. But now, as both of us are heading down-hill towards 40 at what feels like an alarming speed (propelled, I’m certain, by the time pressures of our combined IF issues), I just don’t know how to act anymore. I feel like admitting to wanting children with a response of “not YET” to inevitable questions about whether we have children will invite derisive snorts. I’m also uncomfortable with people who ask a lot of personal questions – especially when you’ve just met them – and don’t really know how to deal with that without coming across as…mmm, a battleaxe, shall we say? (picture me cringing at this point, btw).

So what I do is avoid those situations altogether, because I know that, at the moment, my knee-jerk reaction would be to go on the defensive – either by pretending I’m “sort of vaguely” considering motherhood “at some point in the as yet to be determined future” (in other words, a complete lie); or by snarling. Yep, that’s right, snarling. Because I feel like I have to justify myself and our childless state – completely ridiculous, of course – to what I assume would be smugness of women my age with a gaggle of kids. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail:

Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them. “Hello, it’s Mr Nasty.” I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I can’t allow myself to believe that this is what I’ve become without thinking that there’s still hope for me, that there’s reason to carry the torch for who I really am beneath the rubble of what used to be my life.

Which is why I really wanted to take a moment to thank my fellow bloggers and IFers – your encouragement and comments are more valuable to me than you know. Even if you (politely but firmly) disagree with me on some issues or my approach to certain topics – I appreciate the time you take to read my posts, to comment, and to share you own thoughts and experiences with me. Sometimes I let fear cloud my judgment; I let the dark clouds of self-doubt and anxiety take over my heart and soul. But I’m a fighter, and in the words of a woman far more eloquent and insightful than myself:

I AM NOT AFRAID OF STORMS FOR I AM LEARNING TO SAIL MY SHIP. (Louisa May Alcott)

Insomnia

Sister, can you spare an Ambien?

I’m half glad that none of my doctors have ever suggested or agreed to prescribe Ambien – but this week I’m really hurting. I can’t get my brain to shut up for a New York minute, never mind long enough to fall asleep or get anything approximating restful sleep. I’ve used OTC sleep aids and sometimes they help but, more often than not, they’re just no match for the 24/7 anxiety broadcast happening in my cranium.

I keep worrying about how to approach this problem, trying to figure out whether we should try to get into one of the top 10 infertility clinics – with the ensuing additional costs – or try to find something closer to home. Then I think we need to find a clinic that specializes – or at least has experience – in dealing with our particular issues (DOR and MIF). Which could still be a crap shoot if we don’t like the RE. I don’t even have an ob/gyn I can fall back on just to actually run some new labs right now. I’m so tired of having my head spin like the girl fromThe Exorcist has taken the reigns.

I’m mentally exhausted by all the non-stop chatter. Sometimes, I really just want to disappear into a fog of oblivion. But then I worry about the potentially addictive properties of prescription drugs – to say nothing of their interference with a woman’s cycle, hormones etc…and I think…well isn’t that just the Catch-22 from hell??

These past few days, I’ve not just been plagued with the constant – and familiar – fears surrounding any DOR diagnosis. Especially in the absence of an RE, a scheduled IVF etc. But, in addition, I’m now constantly worried and freaked out about the increasing risks of birth defects inherent in trying to conceive once you’re over 35. That, in itself, makes me almost want to NOT try. I know it’s not PC to admit this, and I’m certainly not looking for a designer baby – but I just could not handle serious birth defects. Go ahead, judge me, hate me – you can think I’m a horrible person for admitting it, but I know there are plenty of others who feel or think the same thing but just keep it under their hats. I get it. I’m not comfortable talking about it with people face to face most of the time – especially because of all the surrounding issues I definitely won’t delve into. But there it is.

So I keep thinking all day, all night – about how all I really wanted was to just have a normal life with my loving, lovable husband. How we never really even talked about the whole baby/family issues because we instinctively knew we both wanted the same thing. In hindsight, I wondered why we didn’t talk about it like so many other couples – maybe we did long before we got married but, honestly, I can’t even remember. All I know is that when I’m with my husband – snuggled together on the couch while we’re watching a movie, holding hands as we walk, smiling and laughing…I’ve never felt such searing pain as the thought of possibly being deprived of biological children. I’m lucky enough that my husband loves me no matter what – and that, as much as he wants children, too, he’s fine with alternative family building options and he can live without them. He just wants ME to be happy. And that, of course, makes me feel even more guilty – and like even more of a failure as a woman and as a wife. Because while we both have IF issues, the reality is that his are easy – if not inexpensive – to overcome. Mine, on the other hand? Shelf life built in from the get-go, and with no awareness of the potential pitfalls, I guess the sad truth is that I was in denial for far too long – and now I’m paying the price.

I tried to fall asleep before leaving our bedroom and snuggling up on the couch, solo except for the rhythmic snoring of one of our fur-babies who’s installed near me. I want to bury my face in his fur and cry – but I don’t, because I figure that I’m not the only one who’s dealing with all these issues, the anxieties, the insecurities, the palpable anger and frustration. I’ll probably end up reading the rather crappy book I inexplicably got into last night just to give my brain something to focus on that doesn’t involve the dare-I-dream babies I wish I could believe we’re still meant to have. I know that, for most men, a boy is a source of pride – but, for me, all I’ve ever thought about when I did think about having children (without any sense of desperation before) was having a little baby girl…all pink and cute. I think about so many things that I want to do with our children, but I know that if it doesn’t work out, I have to learn to live without them – if not for my own sake, for my husband’s. Isn’t it funny how you can go from not really thinking about something to becoming borderline obsessive?

Of course the other side of the coin is that the constant sleep deprivation isn’t just wreaking havoc on my day-to-day activities – it also affects your cycle, your moods, the nuts and bolts of your fertility (however compromised that may be from the get-go). Which then leads to more anxiety, less restful sleep, etc – you see where I’m going with this.

To boot, my lack of quality sleep and the anxiety are apparently having some decidedly unpleasant physiological side effects – break-outs and muscle spasms that, honestly, make me just want to lie in bed and pull the covers over my head and, like Phoebe, cry out “Don’t look at me! I’m hideous!”.

So…let’s just say that if you’ve ever seen an overturned garbage can after some critter got into it during the night, you’ll have a good idea of the metaphorical mayhem that reigns supreme in my head these days…

Reconnecting with your Hubby

I was actually working on a totally different blog post earlier today, but then I got sucked into the vortex that is my WP Reader, leading me down the rabbit hole from one blog to another until I came upon some type of “blog post gone viral” etc – I’ll spare you the boring details (which you may have stumbled upon yourself already anyway).

But I felt compelled to re-post a list on a blog that, really, was a response to the viral post and that I found kind of cute – as well as a great reminder for all of us struggling with IF to “stop and smell the roses” (obviously some will be less appropriate for those of us trying to scrape together every last cent we can get our hands on to afford ARTs – my own comments are in italics):

23 Things You Can Do With Your Husband Regardless of Age

1. Have safe sex, however often you want. It’s a wonderful concept. I know, I know – if you’ve been TTC for any amount of time with no BFP, this becomes a chore. You stop feeling sexy. You stop thinking of sex as fun because now it’s work. But there’s something to be said for going back to basics, reconnecting on a more spiritual level and (trying) to bring some romance back to the bedroom 🙂

2. Get a passport and travel- a honeymoon, or even just a vacation. In this case, due to inevitable budgetary constraints, I like the idea of just making time for a date – the kind where you dress nicely, go out to a restaurant, maybe see a movie. Or just walk, hand in hand, in a park, on a beach, get a coffee – just pause and make time for just “you and me”.

3. Run around the house naked. It’s more fun than sitting in a boring window. Hehehe, ahem – I don’t think I need to elaborate on that. Except that instead of just running around, you could play tag. No laser guns required. 😉 

4. Get a tattoo that has meaning for both of youNot for me, personally – but that makes a lot of sense, I imagine, especially for people with angel babies (hope I’m using the correct term here).

5. Explore somewhere new with your best friend, instead of alone. Assuming you’re not both working yourself to a nub to make enough money for IVF. This one is on my to-do list before DH and I become literally home-bound by our “need” to economize. Who says exploring needs to be expensive? Just check out a new part of town etc. 

6. Pick up a new hobby together. Mmm, that’s a toughie. Maybe a “healthy” hobby – like cooking, hiking, biking, swimming? Preferably a FREE one.

7. Start a family if you want. If you don’t, then wait. Yeah…ok, I guess I could’ve just deleted this one because I was sorely tempted to say “uhm…instead of waiting, have your ovarian reserve checked and a basic SA done. Stat. Forewarned is forearmed. And you know what, while you’re still blissfully unaware – why not have some eggs and sperm frozen. You know, just in case.”

8. Make out. At least you know where his mouth has been. LOL I kind of love her approach on this one – it was in response to the original blogger suggesting you should make out with a stranger. But then, when you’re in your early 20s and aren’t attached to anyone – don’t most dates or boyfriends start out as strangers, technically? Either way I agree with her, making out with my hubby is the least “chore-like” part of struggling with IF. 

9. Decorate your house/apartment with Pinterest projects you did together. I have a better idea: make projects from Pinterest, then sell them at an IF or adoption fundraiser. Because, really? You need the money.

10. Get a couples massage. Things are more fun with your best friend. Or, get acupuncture together. Although a massage sounds pretty darn good right about now – all that stress and constant worrying, panicking etc is really turning my neck muscles into a stale pretzel.

11. Sign up for CrossFit together. Or just workout together period. Once upon a time, the words “workout” made you smirk because you weren’t thinking about a gym, you were thinking about getting horizontal with Mr. Perfect (your hubs). But I’m definitely in favor of physical activity in tandem – which, btw, is rumored to multiply the health benefits. Too bad you can’t actually afford a gym membership anymore because, oh yeah, you’re still saving for IVF. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep the lights on before it’s all said and done.

12. Share an entire pint of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. Or not. You’re struggling to conceive – no fellow IFer will judge you for eating an entire pint of ice cream by yourself. Even if you upended a jar of Nutella over it. But I’m really trying to replace my desire and knee-jerk reaction of reaching for junk food when I’m depressed with the healthier alternative of fruit. Mmmm, fruit. Or make your own healthy frozen yogurt!

13. Build a future. Yeah…that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we thought we were doing. Apparently it’s been backordered – I’m expecting an email any day now telling me that my bio baby is back in stock.

14. Disappoint your husband. Trust me, you won’t have to try, it’ll just happen. And then have make-up sex. Yeah, I think we’ve got that covered – in spades. Not just our husbands, but ourselves, our families etc. But mostly it feels like we continue to disappoint our husbands – who, thankfully, love us just as much as before. 

15. Bake/cook for each other. Things taste way better when they’re made for someone with love. This is very true. My husband isn’t exactly a chef (neither am I, come to think of it – ooops!), but he doesn’t mind helping. And it’s definitely a lot nicer to cook together – a great way to turn a frown (can’t afford to eat out anymore) upside down (look what we made together! team work RAWKS!).

16. Start traditions together. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one wants to think of visits to the RE as a “tradition”. Let’s make our tradition something more fun – like watching a funny movie after an unpleasant appointment; taking the dog(s) for a walk after a sob fest; or just hugging each other tightly when it feels like all hope is lost. 

17. Travel within the United States. And when you get lost, make an adventure out of it, knowing you’re safe with your best friend. Make that “travel across the US to several different REs or clinics until you find one that suits your specific needs, budgetary considerations and feels “right” for you.” No need to worry about getting lost – you already feel that way without a baby in your arms. In the meantime, though, I have to agree: there’s almost nothing I can’t endure so long as my husband is there to wrap his strong arms around me and let me wail and sob until I’m all out of tears.

18. Have a sleepover with him every night. If either of you can actually sleep without sleep aids at this point.

19. Go out together, have fun, come home together, and have more fun. Let’s make that “go out together when you don’t have an appointment”. Remember to laugh and smile at the little things – because that’s all you can afford between the chump change and lint left in your wallet.

20. Adopt a pet. When you’re both ready. It’s easier when two people are caring for it. Check. Instead of adopting more pets, don’t feel weird about talking to your pets and treating them like surrogate babies – you know, within reason. Please don’t get a stroller for your wiener dog or an entire closet full of outfits – otherwise I might have to slap you.

21. Start a small business now that you have a confidant, companion, and faithful business partner. You’ve already got at least one Ebay and Etsy store between the two of you and have been putting things on consignment all over town because you’re busy selling off all or most of your worldly possessions for extra income so you can afford IVF. Make your own business cards or flyers from cardboard or paper that comes into your house without additional cost – bonus: original, unique way to “advertise” your fund-raising endeavors. 

22. Start a blog. Together or separately. See? You can do it when you’re married too! Crazy, I know. Or, rather, start a crowd-funding site. The time for being shy, sheepish or embarrassed has come – and passed. Time to take action. 

23. Befriend other happily married couples. Because the ones you used to be friends with all had babies and then (a) started avoiding you when you told them you’re suffering from bubonic plague SARS mad cow disease infertility; (b) gave you inane advice until you couldn’t stand it anymore and stopped calling; (c) you couldn’t stand being around them anymore because of the very obvious, non-pregnant “elephant” in the room. Instead, consider joining an IF and/or adoption support group in your local area to connect with other couples struggling with infertility. Assuming you don’t live in podunk where those things are, apparently, not-a-happening. 

Reposted from:

http://kbeauregard.com/2013/12/31/my-first-blog-the-result-of-a-close-minded-23-year-old/

The Box of Denial

On Sunday, I finally did something I kept meaning to do but couldn’t bring myself to: I unearthed The Box. The pretty patterned one I’ve been hiding for an inordinate amount of time given our predicament; the one I’d started filling with my “battle gear” several years ago. Filled with shiny covers and brimming with the promise of delivering the ultimate goal: a healthy, sustained pregnancy. When I first started buying some of these books, about 5 years ago, I told myself that it was just “in case” – I didn’t really need them because I wasn’t really that serious about getting pregnant just then (newsflash: that’s totally not true – I was just kidding myself. Flat-out D-E-N-I-A-L. Unsurprisingly enough, I’m sure.).

I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to have a baby – or just how badly – and that the “magic” wasn’t happening. It would’ve been easy to glow with happiness if I’d gotten pregnant – then, only then, was it “safe” to admit how much I’d wanted it. But no such happy event for us. While everyone, it seemed, around us was getting pregnant again and again, I pretended that it wasn’t even on my radar – filled with the growing pain that only receded when it was punctuated by even greater heartache as people around me started dying (five in the space of two years, in case you’re wondering).

As time went on and all the other crap in my life came to a head, the unspoken issues that continued to keep us in our childless state became buried for a while – and so did the box of books. Periodically, I stealthily added another title – maybe something I picked up at a discount store or a used book store. Always when I was alone. Why? Because the books – just as the deceptively beautiful box they’ve been housed in – were something that needed to be hidden. Almost as if, just by being out in the open, it was a jinx – or inviting the prying eyes of others who wouldn’t possible understand in the boon of their own fecundity.

The truth, I finally realized this weekend – in one of those panicky-painful moments that make you get so choked up that even tears freeze before they can fall, so despairing and raw is the emotion – is that I was ashamed and in denial. I kept thinking that if I ignored the box and all the problems inside it, then like the mental trick for putting something out of your mind, it would just disappear.

Ridiculous, right?

But then, if like me, you’ve never been pregnant and are in the Mojave Desert of fertility (the cringe-worthy age bracket of 35-44), it’s hard not to panic. And I mean full-on, ripping-out-your-hair-biting-your-fingernails-to-the-quick-screaming-crying-sleep-depriving PANIC.

On Sunday, right before I went in search of the Box of Denial, I had a no kidding panic attack. I started sweating, my heart was pounding like a jackhammer, and I felt like I was either going to throw up or faint. I wrote in my journal. I tried to watch a bit of tv to distract myself. I tried to talk myself off the ledge. For what seemed like an eternity, I felt like I was going to let out a guttural, animal-like scream just to relieve the tension that made me feel like I was having a heart attack.

I’ve read – or half-read – a couple of infertility books in the last couple of years. One of them was so dysjuncted that I found myself having a hard time following the chronology of events. Another one – that I’m still trying to work my way through – keeps making me feel like gasping in exasperation and rolling my eyes.

The one that I’m actually responding to, though, is a book called Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility; co-authored by Sami S. David and Jill Blakeway. To say that it makes me want to pick up the phone, book two respective appointments and get on the next flight to NYC would be an understatement. I started reading this book Sunday evening – and it’s definitely been eye-opening. It made me feel so, so incredibly vindicated about not sticking with Dr. Greedy McMoneybags (the RE we didn’t like but that, in the last couple of months, I was almost tempted to make a new appointment with – how’s that for despair??). As I continue reading, I feel both reassured AND freaked out: we waited too long; we don’t have convenient, easy, or even reliable access to the type of medical care (both Western and Eastern) of the kind that the authors favor: medical detective work.

I know from a lot of blogs and/or IF community forums that many women are frustrated by doctors who are proceeding too slowly for their liking – and if such delays are caused by greed (hey, let’s run a few thousand dollars worth of unnecessary tests, k?) or trying to disguise what is really actually a lack of knowledge, then I agree. However, so far I have found that the approach these two authors believe in is so much more in keeping with what I need and want (but am, honestly, petrified to consider because of my “advanced” age and previous DOR diagnosis): investigating the root of the problem(s) and looking for the least invasive way to fix them.

I found myself thinking back to the RE who never even suggested an IUI (even though I’d never taken Clomid in my life or had a previous IUI) and wanted to go in, guns blazing, telling me the only way we’d conceive was with IVF + ICSI (most expensive treatment outside of external issues such as egg donor or surrogacy – quel surprise!) and that he was planning to use the most aggressive protocol. Meanwhile, my anxious questions about side effects were met with something between a disinterested shrug and dismissive snort – answered as “just some minor bloating”. (Yeah, I didn’t really buy that, either.)

So now I’m in a bit of a weird, uncomfortable situation: on the one hand, I’m enjoying this book – as much as you can while feeling a metaphorical gun being held to your head – and learning about things I, quite frankly, didn’t have the faintest clue about; on the other hand, there’s that nagging voice inside my head saying you don’t have time to mess around anymore; should’ve thought about that years ago. I’m trying to calm myself down and think that investing in their suggestions may take time, but without doing so, I may not only be subjecting myself to repeated treatments in the future that may or may not succeed (to say nothing of the financial, physical and emotional trauma that IVF really represents) but also setting myself up for a lower chance of success than if I actually make the commitment I was starting to make at the end of 2012 before another part of my personal life went to hell in a hand basket last year.

Is it crazy to press the pause button at this point in my life? Is it insane to think, let’s take 3 months to really focus on our health, to consider Eastern medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbs etc)? Do I want to do this for the right reasons or because I’m scared: scared of the uncertainty, scared of not knowing where to turn at this point, scared of the whole impact of IVF?

The two warring halves of my brain keep being locked in what feels like a deadly tug-o-war: between the “do it, DO IT NOW!” panic side and the peacenik that wants to try and approach this with a modicum of conservatism, meaning in this case to not overlook less invasive treatment options. Did I mention, previously, that no one has actually bothered – at all – to explain any of my labs to me, except to inform me that as a DOR “candidate” for IVF, I’d probably need donor eggs in the foreseeable future? That no one asked me about my cycles, about whether I’ve ever done a BBT chart (I haven’t), that no one bothered to actually do more than 1 set of labs to see if the values were consistently the same; that no one actually checked whether my pituitary gland was/is functioning properly at all, whether my progesterone levels are “normal” in the different phases of my cycle? Initially, I was told I didn’t actually ovulate, ever, at all – based on a single, solitary blood test. So is it really surprising that what I want, what I’m looking for, is an RE who’s going to put all the cards on the table – not just the ones with the highest dollar amount?

And…with that I also realize that I’m driving myself crazy. Last week was a bit of a haze – I was under the weather, feeling emotional even though I’m not yet anywhere close to my next period (which I no longer dread so much as I resent and pretty much hate it). Wrapped up in sweaters and blankets, feverish, I threw myself a pity party by watching Sex and the City. I cried when Charlotte had a miscarriage; I cried when she tried to put on a brave face at Miranda’s son’s first birthday party…until she came face to face with the silver Tiffany’s rattle her first husband had bought before she found out about her fertility issues. Got angry at the scene where this one woman swears by an acupuncturist and highly recommends him in between saying something about how all the IUIs and IVFs had driven her crazy – which made me think: really, how nice it must be to (a) not have to worry about the money part of ARTs (which, let’s face it, is a HUGE consideration) and/or (b) living in a big city where you’re not only spoiled for choice, whatever the type of medicine, but also nowadays in the case of New York City in particular, actually have IVF coverage if I’m not mistaken.

(Gremlin. Ugh. Still working on that…)

Needless to mention, I’m trying to stave off another pity party to coincide with the PMS that, I believe, has RSVPd for sometime next week. I’ve been feeling cranky all day, but I know that’s due to the mute terror I feel without knowing, really, how to find the kind of doctor (and I’d settle for a general one to start out with) who can actually be bothered to look at the person, not the dollar signs. Old-fashioned, you say? I know time is of the essence – believe me, I never thought I’d be one of those “biological clock” women, but there’s nothing like someone putting a question mark on your ability to have biological children that’ll not just make that clock tick but turn it into a dinner gong. Yet, personally, I’d rather have someone who isn’t all about turning you into a pin-pricked receptacle for toxic medications that may or may not turn you into Godzilla, Attila the Hun, Jack(ie) the Ripper etc. from the ensuing renegade hormone spin cycle.

Translation: I don’t want someone to waste my time but also not recommend a course of action before or without investigating other less invasive/costly options. I’m not saying that there’s a chance in hell we could conceive without the previous RE’s “recommendation” for IVF with ICSI (and I use that term lightly, since he might as well have been holding a gun for the amount of choice his “recommendation” left room for). But that book made me so glad, despite our continued struggle, that I didn’t agree to put my life, my body, my health, into the hands of someone who probably wouldn’t have had time to fit me into his busy schedule if I’d thought I was having symptoms of OHSS or some other serious side effect with the treatment.

So here’s my question: how far are YOU willing to go to have a baby?

Is it just about experiencing pregnancy for you? How important is the biological connection to your child(ren) to you/your spouse? And how far would you travel, how much would you be willing to spend, how many different doctors, supplements, medications, procedures would you be willing to endure to get to the sought-after goal?

I’m not being facetious – I really want to know. Because I’m thinking, is it really any crazier to travel out of state – or, even, the country – in the quest of motherhood than it is to contemplate being held ransom to the tune of $25-50K if you have to contemplate domestic infant adoption?

Dumb Day

I’m having a Dumb Day. It seems to be happening with alarming frequency lately, and I haven’t quite figured out if it’s a latent panic attack that keeps me from digesting the material I’m trying to absorb, or if the years of non-existent intelligent discourse and corresponding stimulation of my brain have left my mental faculties in a state of disrepair. (Although part of me wonders whether what I’m experiencing is the IF-equivalent of “pregnancy brain”, aka “empty womb brain”.)

Let me explain.

I’m not stupid. I’m fairly intelligent and educated. I suck at certain things and am, arguably, rather good at others. But I feel somewhat flummoxed by social media – caused partly by disdain for the oversharing hordes of people who can’t even spell the most basic words correctly, and partly by what I can only refer to as inciting a case of “head-scratching” in yours truly (ok, what I really mean is “I don’t get it”).

One of the things I find the most frustrating about social media is how it makes people do and say the most stupid and/or offensive things. Social media has given bullying a whole new outlet; and it’s given all those idiots who were last in line when they handed out brains, tact, courtesy, common sense, decency and a little thing called manners a whole new way to make my eyes bleed. I know, I know. Social media can also be an effective tool for growing your business, for staying in touch with people halfway across the globe, and for crafting what started out as a puny little idea into a genius light bulb movement.

However, I’m a little ambivalent about social media in general. I’ve read quite a few articles that are already pointing out things like how we’re having fewer and fewer “real”, face to face interactions in favor of things like FB. Another article suggested that people who are heavily involved with social media have a tendency to become unhappy – the premise being that the constant “stacking up” of oneself against others (a new way of keeping up with the Jones’, if you will) can even lead to no-kidding depression. I don’t find this hard to believe since I know I’m not the only IFer who decided to leave FB after the constant onslaught of pregnancy announcements.

Still, social media is not only a reality of our lives – it can also be useful and helpful in many ways. I mean – take this whole blogging thing. I’m still trying to get my bearings but, to be honest, I would’ve never dared to start a blog were it not for a handful of really wonderful, supportive fellow IFers I “met” through an online infertilty community. I’ve never met any of these people face to face – yet there is an irrefutable bond when you recognize yourself in the words of someone else because you think, omg that’s exactly how I feel/think/act.

And this is, perhaps, never more important than when you struggle with something that feels like the world’s biggest secret – because, again, I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t go around broadcasting our reproductively challenged state to anyone and everyone; largely because those we did tell early on turned their backs on us and made us feel rejected, misunderstood and even more vulnerable than we already felt to begin with.

But there are some things that still really baffle me – mostly because I want to contribute or participate but am not quite sure what the “etiquette” is or how something works.

Case in point: the Sunshine Award. Since I started my blog, a few people very kindly informed me that they had nominated me for this “award” – and I honestly have no idea what to do with that. Am I supposed to say thank you? Am I supposed to nominate them back? Am I supposed to write an acceptance speech? I honestly have no idea.

Similarly: online “challenges”. I love the idea of participating in a challenge that revolves around something that’s important, meaningful and/or significant to me personally – but, again, I feel like I’m at a black tie event dressed in dungarees. I. Don’t. Get. It.

Of course this makes me feel like a huge, enormous tool. It feeds into pre-existing feelings of inadequacy and makes me stop dead in my tracks for fear of “getting it wrong” – and making even more of a heel of myself. The result: I feel like I’m standing outside looking in, my face squished against the window, longing to be part of something that’s bigger than just me, myself and I. But I’m so consumed with the fear of doing something wrong that I just slink away, depriving myself of the joy of interaction, friendship and community.

Why am I so worried about this? Good question. Because, really? There’s no money riding on whether or not I deal with something like that in the “correct” way. But the truth is that I want to learn, I want to understand – I’ve just been too chicken to admit that I didn’t get it right off the bat. Kind of like the kid who doesn’t understand what’s going on in class but doesn’t want everyone staring at him/her and calling them a moron. Yeah, that would be me in this scenario.

I think the reason I’m having such issues with this – and, really, making a proverbial mountain of a mole hill – is that I kind of lost the plot once social media really exploded and things like Pinterest, blogging etc. catapulted random people to relative or actual stardom. A blog that got turned into a book, that became a movie. A blogger who had such following that an entire company grew out of it. And the truth? I’m not looking for fame and fortune, but I want to capitalize on what’s left of my brain and LEARN something new. I want to “get it”, I want to participate, I want to understand instead of ignoring something because I’m afraid to come right out and say, yeah…I didn’t catch that – can you run that by me again?

Part of the problem is that I really, truly HATE feeling stupid. I hate admitting that I don’t understand something that everyone else seems to be equating to 1+1 in its simplicity. I’m also kind of old school. I like things that are physical – real books, real letters, real people. I guess you could say that, in as much as my blog is in its infancy, so is my own personal experience with online communities.

So please don’t think that I don’t appreciate you trying to include me or nominate me or encourage me – it may just take me a while to figure out how this all works. I’ll try not to break out an old-fashioned college-ruled Mead notebook, pen and high lighter, and draw myself a diagram. Ahem.

Get Healthy Challenge 2014

Ah, Sunday. This most conflicting day of the week. It’s the day before you have to go back to school as a child or to work as an adult. It’s the day where plans for the week ahead are forged – but also the day where you sleep in with your sweetie and have a nice, leisurely breakfast or brunch. Steaming waffles, a nice strong cup of coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, and maybe a newspaper or other weekly item to peruse at length.

For me, it’s one of the few days that I can spend some quality time with my husband. It’s also a day where I sit down to make a lot of lists – for the week, the month, and just general bullet points on my endless list of things to do, ever.

The first item on today’s agenda is my desire to participate in a fellow blogger’s Get Healthy Challenge 2014. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how it’s supposed to work, but one thing I do know is that it couldn’t be more apropos for the things that I desperately really, truly want and need to get done this year. I was especially drawn to her contemplation about the mind/body connection – in so far as “getting healthy” isn’t just about losing weight but also about tending to your emotional well-being. As I’m rather flailing in both areas, this challenge is just what I need to keep me focused on the big picture by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable bite-sized tasks.

In the past, I’ve been rather…ineffective at enforcing my own New Year’s Resolutions. I actually happened across an old list from something like 20 years ago just last month – and it was both laughable and shocking that I still, unbelievably, want to get many of the same things done. The ubiquitous “get healthy/lose weight” is an obvious one – that’s pretty much been the headliner for, oh I don’t know, 25 years (sad, I know). Coming up behind it is the whole carpe diem, goosfraba deal – meaning my perennial desire to dissolve my negative feelings and accept myself and those around me with more grace and calm (you know, without resorting to a super-size helping of narcotics).

I decided to write my updates – to see how the week has treated me – and weekly goals on Sundays instead of Fridays: what challenges I faced, overcame (hopefully there won’t be too much drama as the result of the inevitable setting of lofty goals until I actually figure out what I can, realistically, tackle and accomplish inside of a week), and what’s on the table for the next week.

So as I am preparing to launch myself into a goal-driven challenge to help me keep my eye on the proverbial ball (instead of, you know, constantly freaking out about the mountain of things I should do but am too petrified, worried, anxious and cranky to deal with), I received a message from a cantankerous family member with whom I have not spoken in some time. Said person has caused a great deal of heartache in our lives and was therefore expedited to the emotional version of Siberia – because, honestly, as I’m approaching 40 in the next couple of years, I really have less and less desire to deal with emotional vampires and people who constantly act like your heart is their own personal trampoline. I’m still smarting from the tone and wording – clearly designed to aggravate and guilt me into a response, which I have decided is not only beneath me but not worth the time and effort to compose.

Of course there’s a little “secret” behind this – a confession that pains me to make but that, in light of preparing for this challenge, I know I have to own. The truth is that I hate conflict of any kind. I hate arguing. I hate the mere fact of not getting along with someone. I’m the product of many unpleasant experiences that involved being yelled at, beaten, chastised, humiliated and otherwise being generally treated like the square peg that wouldn’t fit in the round hole. The overall message was that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, to be loved without some major “renovation” and caveats. Needless to mention, I’m still trying to rise above things that happened a long time ago – and even just admitting them in the first place makes me want to run away and hide under a rock while meekly pleading to be informed of if and when the storm has passed.

Because of all those experiences, I always tried to be nice to everyone. I tried so, so hard to be pleasing, to be “good” – whatever such a subjective term can ever mean. And I fell for promises and assurances over and over. I trembled and walked over metaphoric eggshells for years and years – always tacitly trying to maintain the frail balance for whatever period of time was granted until there was another blow-out. Each time the tears came, hot and salty, I swore to myself that it was the last time: the last time I would try, the last time I would believe, the last time I would let someone else treat me like I wasn’t good enough.

But reading the experiences by so many others in the last few months, I’ve realized two things. First, Eleanor Roosevelt was right: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – and that consent has just expired, been revoked and will not be renewed. Second, I am done with trying to please and appeased people who do nothing of the sort for me. I won’t bore you to tears with the tedium that has been almost my entire life – with family members who treated me like garbage, or who were nice just long enough to get what they wanted and then went all Jekyll and Hyde on me. I AM DONE. I’m not going to placate someone else insecurities that they chose to abuse on me. I’m not going to be conned into trying to maintain relationships where I’m the one always trying to be nice, trying to do the right thing, trying to help and put myself out there for people who – clearly – by their words and actions have long since demonstrated just how little they truly care about us. And while I know that this will be an uphill battle for me, that I will struggle with conflicting emotions, that sadness and regret will wash over me periodically, I know that it’s time I actively work to overcome this lifelong struggle.

So, without further ado, here are my Get Healthy Challenge 2014 goals for this coming week:

  1. No tv during the weekdays (and only 1 hour per weekend day).
  2. Make the phone calls and appointments I’ve been dreading for months.
  3. No caffeine on weekdays other than in herbal tea (meaning no coffee, chocolate etc).
  4. Deal with emotional turmoil and/or adversity through creativity (writing/journaling) and diversion (chores, bubble bath, walk the pups)
  5. Do some type of physical activity each day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
  6. Try or do something new.
  7. Take my supplements every day.

I decided to pick 7 items to correspond with 7 days in a week – not because I plan to do those things only on one day (some obviously apply to the whole week) but because I wasn’t sure how many goals to pick…and this seemed like a befitting number. I think #3 is going to be the hardest because, omg, I love my coffee. Did I say love? I meant I’m mildly obsessed with it. I mean…just opening a bag or can of the current favorite and deeply inhaling the scents wafting up…it’s like nirvana for me. It’s the thing that I relate to relaxation the most – the one thing that makes me feel like I can get through a tough spot. But I also know that (a) I’m consuming way too much caffeine (which is especially ironic given that I absolutely never have or do drink sodas); (b) I might as well ween myself off it before we even find a new RE because, eventually, when (yes, my instinct wasn’t to write if for a change!!) I get pregnant, I’m not going to be able to guzzle the stuff at the current rate anyway.

In line with the whole challenge idea, DH and I also agreed to make time to have lunch together once a week. It the past year, it’s been more like once a quarter – partly due to his hectic schedule but also in consideration of the added expense of eating out. We used to love going out for dinner – the dressing up, the ambiance, maybe a cocktail if it was appropriate. But in recent years we’ve all but become social recluses, as we both recoil from anything that could open us up to questions about our continued childlessness – not to mention the inevitable heartache of thinking we’ll have a nice, quiet and romantic dinner – only to be surrounded by families. (Sidebar: I can so, totally relate to this blogger’s post about almost crying in the grocery store – because I’ve had those moments in virtually every. single. public. location. It’s unbelievable and shocking – even when it’s happened more than once – how gut-wrenchingly painful some of these moments can be; and how hard you have to fight the tears. I’ve had moments where I tasted bile in my mouth and seriously thought I would actually, no kidding, vomit in a public venue. NOT something I would like to experience, e-v-e-r, if I can avoid it.)

Of course this brings me to an issue that I keep meaning to address and that I keep, ahem, failing to deal with in a – shall we say – “mature” way: I am way, way too stressed out. I mean, I have anxiety in the capacity of a medical condition. I’ve taken anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants at various points in the last few years – until I decided that I didn’t want to live a life where I had to rely on medication for anything that wasn’t immediately life threatening. Of course the truth is that, at this point, my ticker is decidedly unhappy with me – and the heart palpitations have become disturbingly frequent, so that when I lie in bed at night, I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep just because my heart is pounding like a jackhammer, thundering in my ears to such an extent that I’m tempted to yell “keep the damn noise down!”. 

It goes without saying that I know what’s to blame. I know I need to get out more. I know I need to stop worrying about things that I can’t do a darn thing about. I know I need to think less and act more – which may sound like a bad idea, if you weren’t someone like me who has a propensity  slight tendency to overthink, like, everything. If you’ve ever seen the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, you’ll probably know what I mean: lying in bed, staring holes into the ceiling and making lists. Only – I completely disagree that this is something particular to the working mom. I think it’s specific to a type of person – someone who (a) worries too much and (b) isn’t that good at prioritizing actionable items on their to-do list. In other words, I know that I need to work very hard to overcome my tendency to worry rather than tackle.

Rather than worrying about the nastygram I received and the fear of whatever may be lurking behind it, I’m going to write it off. I’m not interested in maintaining the relationship’s status quo; and since I know for a fact that trying to have a frank, honest conversation with this person is simply not possible, there is just no avenue to address or redress the issues between us. Which means that, as hard as it is for me and as frustrating as I find it to be in this situation – I have more pressings things commanding my attention and I simply WILL NOT waste my brain power on this, anymore.

Toodeloo! 🙂