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Revisiting IVF?

Yesterday, while we were driving to the grocery store, The Husband asked “so, why aren’t we doing IVF again?”

I should admit that when it comes to TTC, I am the one calling the shots. I did all the research, I weighed the options, and then I presented my findings and suggested course to The Husband and he said “okay.” So I have told him that I don’t want to do IVF and why, and he has said “that sounds reasonable.” However apparently he never actually gave it much thought on his own.

Because of the lack of online resources and support for men, I have bought him a few books about infertility written by men and he has read two; “swimming in circles” and “what he can expect when she’s not expecting.” Next on his reading list is “how to make love to a plastic cup.” I am really glad he’s been open to reading these, and I feel like besides getting the support part of knowing he’s not alone, he’s learned a ton about infertility treatments beyond what he got from asking me questions. I’m sure the male perspective makes it easier to understand. It turns out that an unexpected other result is he now is questioning why we’ve already blocked the road to this treatment that most IFers do.

I explained to him, trying very hard to stick to “this is just my opinion” type language instead of ” this is what’s happening and don’t you question it.” As confident as I am with my choices I want him to be included and have his needs met too. I reiterated that the cost,
partnered with relatively low success rates, the fact that we would probably have to do it multiple times AND that because our infertility is unexplained there’s no reason to think it will work are why I don’t think it’s a good choice for us. I also told him that if we did IVF and it didn’t work, and we were so in debt we’d need years to recover before we could adopt, that I would be DEVASTATED. I tried to really emphasize this as much as I could without being dramatic.

He then said that he doesn’t know much about it but it seems like something we should try. I quipped “and how are we going to pay for it!?” Maybe just a little too defensively, and he called me on it, “I’m just asking questions, calm down,” so I told him that I already know where I stand but he’s welcome to do some research and we can talk about it. That if we could pay for that and adoption, and he really wanted to do it, we could. And that’s where we ended it.

But you know the weirdest part? In both of the books he’s read so far, the IVF didn’t work. One couple did about 5 failed cycles before moving on then randomly getting pregnant naturally, and the other ended up doing 10 (TEN!!) failed IVFs before having twins via surrogate. I pointed out to him that it’s a little ironic that reading those books led him to want to do it, but apparently he feels better about our luck.

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Infertility Without Religion

I started my period yesterday. On Christmas. I also started my period on Mother’s Day this year. Considering we only have 12 “first day of period” days and 365 possible days to start, the odds if it starting any one day are like 3.5% I think. I suck at math, so I could be wrong, but that’s what I came up with. How is it that with such low odds I managed to hit two major family holidays? And mind you I started the last one the day after Thanksgiving, so I almost hit that mark too! The only answer is I have some really bad karma that I’m paying up on. Maybe it was when I drunk dialed my ex and told him he had a tiny penis.

I picture my uterus as Regina George from mean girls. She acts like she likes you and then does horrible things to you. Like when Regina told Cady that she would talk to Aaron for her, but instead she made out with him right in front of her. My uterus is like “no, look, I’m going to ovulate on CD 14 on an unmedicated cycle. I’ve changed, I don’t ovulate late anymore. Yeah, maybe you’ll even get pregnant on this rest cycle. See you’re 12 dpo and you’re spotting, but before the Prometrium your period would have started by now. Keep hoping! Hey look it’s Christmas, the day everyone spends with their kids enjoying the magic of the season. Oh hey, BTW you’re totes not pregnant, here’s your period and some wicked bad cramps. Love ya!” In the words of Cady Herron “THAT BITCH!”

A major theme I’ve noticed throughout the IF kingdom is “God’s Plan.” After a failed cycle, or a loss, or bad news, everyone is comforted by God’s plan for them and how this is all just part of it. First off, let me be clear that I’m not disparaging that. I completely understand why faith is a comfort and helps people understand why things happen. I just wanted to speak for those of us who don’t believe this is just a part of their life plan and it’s all for a reason.

I’m a ‘de-facto atheist’ which means that I don’t think it’s possible to know whether or not God exists but I’m inclined to think he doesn’t and live my life as though he’s not there. I was raised basically without any faith and so I don’t even have a religious background. The Husband was raised Christian, and still calls himself Christian though from what I can tell he doesn’t really believe in the bible and is more of a “higher power” kind of guy. We reached an understanding very early on that our children would not be raised in church. This was something that is very important to me and would have been a deal breaker.

So during this very emotionally difficult time, I imagine my thought process and coping mechanisms are vastly different from most of you. I don’t pray. I can’t, really, because it feels to silly. When I tried it went something like

“God, if you’re real (which your not) please give me a baby. Because I really want one. (But this is fake so it won’t work). Amen.”

I don’t posit that there is a larger plan for me and if I’m supposed to have one I will. I just think if the treatments work they do and if they don’t they don’t. I do tell myself that I will be a mother someday, somehow, because I know we can adopt though it will be a long and difficult process. I don’t believe “everything happens for a reason.” I just think through a combination of dumb luck and science I may or may not have a baby. There is nothing I can do to affect that other than stay healthy and follow doctors orders.

I can hear you all praying for me now. And don’t think that I haven’t considered whether having some kind of faith would make this easier. I have thought about that. Not that I could just miraculously become a believer. But I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, not being religious has been a comfort. I don’t wonder and worry about what God’s plan is, or why he’s chosen to put me through this. I’m comforted by knowing that no amount of prayer or good deeds will make me get pregnant. I know that I’m doing all I can.

Again, this isn’t meant to disqualify anyone else’s beliefs. I’m glad that those if you who have a faith are able to lean on that for support and understanding. I just wanted to offer the view that it’s possible to get through this without it. So if there are any other atheist infertiles out there, they know they aren’t alone.

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New Year Promises

Hello and welcome, ICLW! Thanks to those of you doing good on your commenting, I have been failing miserably. I just can’t seem to find time so far. To bring you up to speed, my husband and I are diagnosed “unexplained infertility.” We had our first medicated IUI last month, which failed. This cycle (#15) was our first rest cycle since starting this crazy ride, so I have been drinking coffee and booze like crazy. I’ve been spotting and anticipate AF arriving any day now. We will be doing another medicated IUI this next cycle.

So how many of you are telling yourselves “this is our year”? This year I will get pregnant, have a baby, this year will be different. The new year offers new hope to start over, end the pain, become someone who just can’t stop posting pictures of your sweet baby on Facebook. Someone who doesn’t feel a lump in their throat when they see a pregnancy announcement. Someone who isn’t always waiting…

I want this year to be different. I know it will be in some respect. We will either get pregnant, or we will start the adoption process. That will be different from our experience so far. I want so much to be able to have a baby. And I also want off the infertility Ferris wheel. This rest cycle has shown me what a life not centered around trying to get pregnant can be like. I still knew when I ovulated and we certainly weren’t “not trying” but I didn’t feel guilty about drinking wine or coffee, freaked out that tofu would mess up my estrogen. I was able to just live again. I’m excited for the next IUI, but also dreading the constant obsessing, which is unavoidable.

One thing I can never leave behind is the pain. We could stop treatment, we could start moving towards adoption. Even after adopting I will still be infertile, it will always hurt. I just hope it doesn’t always hurt this much. I don’t always want to feel the pain of sitting in a bathroom stall looking at the blood spots on my underwear while overhearing my coworker talk about her pregnancy. I don’t want to feel the gut wrenching envy when a supervisor who just got married says she’s “afraid she might be pregnant.” I don’t want to have to stay of Facebook to get away from all the first steps and first words and general baby pride. I don’t want to feel like my best friend and I live on different planets, because she has a new baby that I can hardly stand to hear about. I just want it all to hurt less.

I hope in this new year I find peace. I hope I find a way to belong to the world in a normal way again. To feel less anger and envy. I hope we all find a little more happiness. And I really hope it comes from the joy of a child.

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“Rest” Cycle Musings

I am about 3DPO on our “rest” cycle. You know the one where I “just relax” and miraculously get pregnant? Though I have been able to get TTC off my mind much more than a medicated cycle, simply for the fact I don’t have to remember to take meds and OPKs at exactly the right time, I still think about it constantly. These are the things on my mind, in no particular order.

-Getting off Facebook was a really good move. Though I have felt somewhat disconnected as far as knowing what my friends are up to, avoiding the pain of seeing all their children’s smiling faces is totally worth it. The other day I needed to get on Instagram for something work related. Though I don’t use it or post pictures, I do have one and follow a few of my friends. When I logged in, I was met with dozens of pictures of my best friend’s one month old baby. There she was in different cute outfits and sleeping nose to nose with her mom, crying while laying on daddy’s chest, and wrapped up in a moby. I couldn’t stop looking, even though it was making me feel really shitty. After that unfortunate experience I was thinking about why it doesn’t bother me to see, in person, people and their kids very much, but social media is so depressing. Then I realized that it’s because social media is fake. We all already knew that blogs and Facebook and Instagram are places to paint a shiny perfect picture of your life for others to oo and ah at. They don’t show you all the struggles and difficulties of day to day life, and this is why they make me feel horrible. When I talk to my friend or see her and the baby she can tell me about the horrible diaper blow out they had at a restaurant and the night the baby cried constantly until 5am. These things don’t make me want a baby less, but at least they are real, instead of the greeting card “my life is perfect now that I’m a mom” illusion that people paint online. I plan on staying off Facebook for a long while, maybe forever.

-I decided that this cycle I was going to do all the things, to the extreme, that I haven’t been doing in case they negatively affect our chances of getting pregnant. This means lots of coffee, alcohol, tofu and whatever the hell makes me happy. I have literally had wine every day this cycle except one day when I was sick. As I type I am drinking a brown cow (Kahlu’a and milk). I know this is extreme, but I really need it. I really need to not feel guilty or like I am giving up all the little things that I enjoy for nothing. I’m not sure if I will go cold turkey for our January IUI cycle, but I will for sure cut back a lot. I am having a lot of superstitious thoughts about January. I mentioned in a previous post that I have always wanted an October baby and that’s the month to make them. Also, long ago before we ever started TTC The Husband and I talked about kids in the future, and I told him I wanted to have my first child before I’m 30. My birthday is October 9, so how crazy would it be to give birth just before that. My moms’ birthday is October 10, and it would be really wild to have a baby on October 8. It will never happen, but it would be pretty incredible. I know all these thoughts will make it hurt that much more if and when the cycle fails, but it’s hard to stop. My best friend got pregnant in February, so then I will think that maybe the February cycle (also the third, which is the charm of course) will be the one and our babies will be one year apart.

-Speaking of superstitions, my friend who is trying to get pregnant via IUI had her second one on Thanksgiving, and her wife was able to be with her this time (last time she was at sea because she’s a merchant marine). I was texting her just after the procedure saying how maybe the first one didn’t work because her wife was meant to be there when she conceived. She said “OH MY GOSH, I thought that same thing!!! That’s so crazy!!” and I said that no, it’s not crazy, because TTC makes you completely insane and superstitious, and anyone would draw that parallel. Unfortunately her IUI didn’t work, and she will be doing another this month that her wife won’t be there for. I think originally they only planned on doing three, because they have to use donor sperm and it’s so expensive, but I hope they try a few more. I really feel for them. Even if our 4 IUIs don’t work and we stop treatment, we will still have the chance of getting pregnant naturally someday. They don’t have that. These IUIs are their only chance. Hopefully for them the third times the charm.

-I actually ovulated on CD 14. Before I was ever medicated, I ovulated on CD 17 or 18, but starting clomid on CD 3 moved it up to 14. I decided to still take OPKs this cycle because I wanted to see if being off meds would have me revert back to my old late ovulation ways, but it didn’t seem to. Now I wait and see if I start spotting at 9DPO like I did before starting progesterone, or if I make it to 14DPO. I also asked my nurse at the clinic about using a trigger shot in January. She said there isn’t any benefit for me because I don’t have a hard time pinpointing ovulation, but that we can use one if we want. I think I might feel better using it just knowing our timing is perfect, but it sounds like I would have to go in and have them administer it. Anyone have other information about the benefits of trigger shots? I haven’t decided yet whether I want to use one.

-My mom finally came around and stopped insisting that nothing is wrong. In fact, she admitted that we may never get pregnant. She was telling me that her friend was going on about how she just knows we will get pregnant and there’s no way I’m really infertile. She said something like “I just know it will happen for her!” To which my mom said that there is no guarantee that we will get pregnant. That there are many women who are genuinely infertile, forever, and nothing makes me better than any of them. That we may never have a baby and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Now, a lot of people would find hearing their mom say this heartbreaking, but for me it was amazing. The Husband and I are both realists and are very in touch with the fact that this might not work. That doesn’t mean it wont be devastating if and when we stop treatment, but we are comfortable with discussing that possibility. Most people aren’t, and I get that. But until now my mom has said basically “I don’t think you’ve really been trying that long and I don’t think anything’s wrong with you.” Meant maybe to be positive, but really just felt like she thought I was crazy. She was even saying this around the year mark. I am so happy she’s on the same page with me now.

-I am going to my parent’s Christmas Eve party and anticipate all of my dad’s very open family asking me what the baby deal is. so I can look forward to repeating it 50 times, with a large glass of wine in hand.

The holiday season is the worst for us, ladies. I wish you all lots of strength.

 

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Infertility Jam – Stop For Me

Today my coworker, the one who has probably taken the most interest in my baby quest, was asking about my January IUI. I was explaining what meds I take and that I have to have a follicle counting ultrasound then take OPKs until I get a positive. She was like “wow, that’s so complicated, good thing you’re so smart!” That made me laugh so freaking much, on the inside of course. Her brother and his wife have two kids conceived with IVF, but she must not have a clue about all the meds and scheduling involved there, or even an IUI with injectables. She also said that she has a ‘really good feeling’ about the January IUI. She said something like:

“I was driving home from work and I was really tired, and suddenly I just thought of you and your January IUI and I had this really good feeling, like it will work. I’m not one of those people who gets feelings about things all the time so I really think it means something”

She is very sweet, and I know she really wants this for me, but how many times have people said “I have a really good feeling about this cycle”? Whether it’s an IFer saying it to herself, or a hopeful friend or family member, we hear and think this all the time. I get that others have hopes maybe even as high as ours. This is part of why it’s so hard to tell people about a failed cycle. Not only do you feel sad and disappointed yourself, but people who care about you and have such high hopes are so disappointed. It was nice of her to say, but I don’t have any big pie in the sky ideas about January. Even though I’ve always wanted an October baby, and that’s the only month I could make one. That doesn’t mean anything! It’s so hard to stop your brain from going there though.

So my newest infertility jam, which I have been totally obsessed with, is ‘Stop for Me” by Carolyn Dawn Johnson. Another country song, I know! Those country chicks know how to reach an infertile girl. This one may have touched me even more than “I would die for that” because it’s not so literal. I have no idea what this song is about, but it fits the feelings of infertility so perfectly. I have found myself listening to it everyday and tearing up at how powerful the lyrics are. My favorite verse:

But nobody mentioned
ohhh sometimes all the passenger seats are taken
The cars are full and it’s a rude awakening
When you’re left behind
So disappointed… yeah
I never even got to try
Instead of living in the moment
I’ve been wasting all this time

Sitting on a suitcase
Crossing fingers counting the days til it arrived
Ohhh I was sure that it was coming
But somehow it just passed me by
Oh how could I be so naive
Well I always thought this train would stop for me

 

 

 

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Infertility Jam – I Would Die for That

Double post today! I have been googling like mad looking for songs and books and all things infertility. It just makes me feel so much less isolated to know there are so many people out there who know what I’m feeling. I want to share the things I’ve found that moved me with you all so you can feel supported too!

The first song I want to share is called “I Would Die for That” by Kellie Coffey. Let me tell you, I am not a fan of country music, but this song made me cry, multiple times. I don’t really appreciate the abortion related business at the beginning, but after that point it’s just amazing. This artist, Kellie Coffey, put off starting a family until her mid thirties because she wanted to establish her career. When she and her husband started trying, they didn’t have much luck. They finally did get pregnant only to miscarry. She wrote this song shortly after her miscarriage, and then found out not too long after that that she was pregnant again. She now has a little boy.

My favorite verse:

“I’ve been given so much,
A husband that I love.
So why do I feel incomplete?
With every test and checkup
We’re told not to give up.
He wonders if it’s him.
And I wonder if it’s me.

All I want is a family,
Like everyone else I see.
And I won’t understand it
If it’s not meant to be.”

I hope it touches you as much as it did me!

 
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Book Review: Swimming in Circles

Friends, I am making THE MOST of this rest cycle. I have been drinking literally every day. And having so much coffee I get all bajiggity. Okay, so maybe I’m overdoing it. I will lose steam eventually and stop being such a lush, but that day is not today!

The insensitive friend from the previous post did text me again the next day and apologize. She said she wasn’t trying to minimize my experience, she was just trying to identify with how Facebook can make you feel shitty. I can totally get that for her, a woman who isn’t interested in marriage and isn’t sure if she wants children, that seeing everyone flaunting the ‘American Dream’ of marriage and family as the best way to exist must be really annoying. She is the minority and that can make you really question your life. BUT her having to defend her choices and work at being confident about what she wants for her life is NOT the same as me not being able to have the things that I do want. I’m sure she still thinks I overreacted, but at least she apologized.

I have now read 3 books related to infertility, and I figured I could share how I felt about them. I have not yet read Waiting for Daisy, which I know is one of the more popular selections. Through another blog, I discovered the podcast “Creating a Family” which I highly recommend. It’s complimentary to a website and each show is an hour long and on a topic related to infertility or adoption. One of the show topics was called “Infertility from the Male Perspective” so I was able to coax The Husband into listening. He really enjoyed it and found it very relatable.

Anyway, the guest on the show was Michael Barr, who went through male factor infertility. He wrote a book about he and his wife’s experience called “Swimming in Circles: A Baby Chase Odyssey.” Knowing that there are not near as many resources for men experiencing infertility as there are for women, I went on Amazon and bought the book for him. When he started reading it he went on and on about all the things that he could relate to or he thought was funny, so of course I had to pick it up too. 

In a nutshell, after some time trying with no success, he is diagnosed with sperm motility issues and they are recommended for IVF. I didn’t really understand why they didn’t try IUI first, but whatever. He talks about his experiences in the sperm sample room (something I am super fascinated by) the way he and his wife’s different approaches to and feelings about infertility affected their relationship, maneuvering the hurtful remarks of well meaning friends and family, and of course all the injections and doctors visits that come with IVF. Though their path to parenthood was very different than the one we are on, and the book was written from a male perspective, I really liked the book. It was funny and honest, and it really resonated with both myself and the husband. We found ourselves saying to each other “Oh my gosh! This sounds just like us!” so many times. About halfway through the book I realized that the couple actually lives in my hometown and I could recognize places they visited, and that made it even more fun. If you think your partner will be open to reading a book, I highly recommend buying this for him. And then when he’s done you can steal it and read it too.

Find the book on Amazon here!

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