Friday, December 14, 2012


So I had an appointment for an ultrasound marked in my calendar for Thursday the 13. I know this was the correct day because it was supposed to be three days after my last clomid pill. I got up early, drove an hour and a half to the clinic, and it was closed. They run late sometimes, so I didn't really think much of it. I mean I was annoyed.. but at least I was sitting waiting in my car rather than sitting in the ultrasound room, vagina out, waiting for the doctor for 40 min. So after 20 minutes I called the office again and the answering service answered. The girl was a real bitch about it too. "Ummmm... the office is closed" But I had an appointment. "Okaaaaaaaay, what do you want me to do?" I don't know why they would have made an appointment with me when they're closed. "Um, yeah, that's because your appointment was yesterday. Wednesday the 12th at 8:30. So, you missed it." I was so upset I cried the whole way home. Now I have no idea if I've ovulated and I don't know what the plan is moving forward. I had my questions all ready, I just wanted to know SO badly what was going on in my body.

I know that I'm fed up with with the Beach Center for Infertility. Dr. Flood is fine. I actually like her quite a bit, but her staff are idiots. I spent the several hours following my brush off from the answering service girl calling all kinds of different numbers to figure out how to change my referral to a different clinic. It's all a big mess. So much bureaucracy, it's just outrageous. I had to call tricare, who told me how to search for another provider, which I found and called to make sure they were accepting patients. They were, so I called the tricare appointment line, who directed me to Langley, who directed me to the office where my Primary Care Physician works. The woman I talked to did not understand why I was told I needed a referral from my Primary, when I had already been referred to Women's Health and then referred again to Portsmouth and then referred again to VA Beach. They were supposed to call yesterday afternoon and let me know if I would have to make an appointment with with Primary to get the referral. Of course, no call. They haven't called yet this morning either. Anyway, it's all very annoying and I have no idea how it's going to work out, but I would really like to go to Richmond instead of VA beach for treatments. I mean, ideally there would be a clinic within a reasonable distance that accepts my insurance, but no such luck with that, so Richmond is the next best thing.  Plus, I like Richmond, they have a bunch of great restaurants.

Until I can get that referral, I have rescheduled, and called to verify, an appointment for Monday. Hopefully I will have more to update then. I'm curious to find out if I ovulated, how close I am to ovulating, whether I need more clomid to grow my follicles or a trigger shot if they're okay sized and I just haven't ovulated. I will be asking about an HSG test and the test for luteal phase defect which I was supposed to have done last cycle but (big surprise) my clinic dropped the ball and closed early the day I needed to call and make the appointment and didn't return my phone call for three days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PCOS and The Holidays

This is the second holiday season I've endured since my PCOS diagnosis.

Last year during Christmas I was on my third round of Clomid with an assurance from my doctor that I'd be "pregnant in no time." I'd get sad when I thought about it too much, and it definitely put a damper on my holiday season, but I was still sort of blissfully ignorant. I was a little worried that our move to VA might put us back a month or so, but I was hopeful. I thought, this is a new year, I'm going to go into it with determination and a positive attitude, and I'm going to get pregnant. That didn't happen.

Part of what has been so difficult is that now, a year later, I feel like I'm no closer than I was a year ago. Or at least not much closer. I did ovulate, so that's a little progress, but it took over a year just to make that happen. Now I know more about all the other hurdles I have to overcome, I've become disillusioned. On the worst days, I feel like there's no hope. Most days though, I'm pretty okay.

I think the holidays are worst because there's so much weight on the idea of family.  Before infertility, I'd see cute little families walking around, dressed to see Santa, picking out a tree, and think, it won't be long before I have a cute little family of my own to build traditions with. Now to see a cute little family all giddy with Christmas spirit, makes me sad... and a little bitter usually too. I don't know if I will ever get to take my child to take pictures on Santa's lap. I don't know if I will get to have traditions like giving PJs to my little ones on Christmas Eve for them to wear on Christmas morning. I think the want for family is intensified over the holidays.

So how do I make it though it? How do you survive the holidays with infertility? I think you try to pause and appreciate all of the blessings you do have. And even though I am hurting, I really do have a lot to be thankful for.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Worst Things to Say to Someone Struggling with Infertility

1. “You’re still so young; you have plenty of time.”
Firstly, brushing someone off is not helpful. Secondly, age will do nothing but hinder my ability to get pregnant, the older I get the more difficult getting pregnant will be.

2. “When are you going to have a baby?”
Prying into someones personal/reproductive business is always obnoxious, but when someone is struggling with infertility, it can be really painful.

3. “Well don't do anything extreme. You don't want to end up like Octomom.”
Extreme, like fertility drugs? Well, I don't ovulate without fertility drugs, so if I don't do anything "extreme" (barring a miracle) I will never conceive a baby. Believe me, I would really like not to have to take these sickness-inducing drugs.

4. “You should go on a vacation.”
Fertility treatments are expensive, so we couldn't afford a cruise to the Bahamas if we wanted to. Plus, we've tried pretty much everything at this point, we aren't really looking for suggestions, just support. 

5. “It's all in God's plan.”
Maybe everything does "happen for a reason" and all that, but this sort of implies that God has intended for you to cry yourself to sleep while you wait it out, or for your ovaries to be covered in cysts, or that you aren't fit be parents. In any case, it's just not what we want to hear.

6. “Ugh, I'm so bloated, I can't wait to have this baby out of me!” (or heartburn, or leg cramps, or any other pregnant lady complaint). You can't blame them, especially if they don't know what you're dealing with, but it still hurts to hear. In an infertile woman's eyes, a pregnant woman has everything, to hear them complaining is super annoying.

7.a. “Take one of mine, they're driving me nuts!”
Um, please appreciate that little miracle of yours. I would do anything to be driven nuts by my own child. Seriously, this one happens all the time and nothing makes me more upset. Why do all these unappreciative moms get to have babies and I can't. UGH.

7.b. “Enjoy [childlessness] while you can. Once they're here, there's no going back!”
Couples who are infertile would gladly trade their "care-free life" for sleepless nights or snot-stained clothes. Also, see above, these things are bad to say for pretty much the same reason.

8. “Why don't you just adopt?”
Just. Adopt. JUST. Adopt. It is actually an incredibly difficult and expensive process and not one that should be offered up all nonchalantly. A variant of this is "Have you considered adoption?" To which most infertiles would respond, "Yes, when you are told there is a chance you might never have a biological child, it is absolutely something you consider."

9. "Just relax, it will happen."
Well thanks for your vote of confidence, but relaxing wont increase a sperm count or rid ovaries of cysts. So no, relaxing probably wont help.

10. "Oh, you've been trying for a year and a half? That's nothing; I know a couple who struggled for SEVEN years before they got pregnant."
Oh, well excuse me, I didn't realize my feelings were completely invalidated because someone had it worse off than me. Sorry, that sounded bitter. It's just that "one-up"ing is never helpful.
  Actually, this probably all sounds a little bitter/over-sensitive to fertile people. Well, we are a little bitter, if you want to be supportive, you're going to just have to deal with it. But if you read through all of this, it means you care! Yay! That's a start :)

Here's a bonus one I just thought of:
11. "Oh, I struggled getting pregnant too. It took me almost SIX MONTHS!"
Yikes. You have to be kidding me. How might this be helpful? Answer, its not.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dear Whoever You Might Be

I'm here waiting patiently.

There's a song by The Civil Wars that's called "To Whom it May Concern."

It goes like this:
Why are you so far from me?
In my arms is where you ought to be
How long will you make me wait?
I don't know how much more I can take
I missed you but I haven't met you
Oh but I want to
How I do
Slowly counting down the days
Till I finally know your name
The way your hand feels round my waist
The way you laugh, the way your kisses taste
I missed you but I haven't met you
Oh but I want to
How I do
How I do
I've missed you but I haven't met you
Oh how I miss you but I haven't met you
Oh but I want to
Oh how I want to
Dear whoever you might be
I'm still waiting patiently 

It came on Pandora during the midst of a crying fit and the words fit so seamlessly into the thoughts I was thinking, the feelings I was feeling. That's never happened to me. I mean, I like music, I really do, but I've never been one of those people who's like "This song changed my life" or "I swear, that songs about me" or who listens to a song on repeat until they're sick of it. I like what I like but I seriously don't even have a favorite song or favorite band, or even a favorite genre. But this song, I love.

I'm a dancer, a dancer who is out of practice and out of touch with her own body, but I heard this song and felt moved to dance. I just listened and danced and cried. It was cathartic and kind of beautiful.

So if someone dealing with infertility happens upon my blog, looking as I have often looked at others' blogs for inspiration (or commiseration), and needs a good cry, do yourself a favor and search for the youtube video. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I ovulated around the 15th of November. Actually ovulated, not just a false PCOS positive OPK. So that's cool. I also have two very large follicles on one ovary. I don't know if I can ovulate twice within a couple of days. Probably not. Anyway, at the check up if I hadn't ovulated they would have given me a trigger shot to force ovulation, but I had... and sooner than I was planning so I can't remember if we BD or not within the ovulation window. It's reassuring that they've found a combination of metformin and clomid that worked for me, so we can try it again next time. I have pretty much given up getting pregnant this round, but I am optimistic about the fact that I actually ovulated for real this time, for the first time in years.

It took a lot of clomid (100mg for 10 days straight), which is sort of unheard of. It's a little worrisome just because normally a woman builds up to 100 mg for 5 days and doctors wont repeat more than 4-6 rounds of that in a row. Well, I'm at 4 rounds in a row with the last one being a double dose and the plan is to do another round if I am not pregnant this cycle.

In other news, not one, but TWO of my facebook friends (young couples who got married over the summer) announced pregnancies over the weekend. That brings the grand total of currently pregnant  facbook friends to 9. NINE!!! It would be even higher, but two of them had their babies this month! Maybe I should move back to my home town. There seems to be something in the water. I should be happy for them; most of those 9 pregnancies were planned and most of those facebook friends will make wonderful parents and are truly good people. But I'm really not happy for them. I'm bitter and angry. One couple's friend commented about how lucky they were that the due date was around the time school lets out (prego is a teacher) to which she replied, "Oh, believe me, that was very strategic." Strategic? Like, you planned out the perfect time frame to get pregnant, had sex, and GOT PREGNANT? In ONE TRY? So that really does happen for some people then. Must be nice. Some of us chart temps and take drugs and chart ovulation with predictor kits and have sex ever single day of a cycle on the off chance that we might ovulate sooner or later than normal and do this for SEVENTEEN consecutive months and cannot get pregnant.

I'm allowing myself one day of bitterness and sadness. Tomorrow is a new day. Hey, there's a slight chance that a little embryo could be implanting as I type. I won't get my hopes up for that. But I am looking forward to the first cycle where there's a plan in place that I know could actually work. That's progress!

UDATE: I miscounted; Eleven facebook friends are currently pregnant (that I know of... who knows when the next little black and white ultrasound image of a little blob will become someone's profile picture). Is that real life? I mean seriously. It's not like I even a ton of facebook friends or anything. UGH.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Everywhere a Baby Bump

I keep seeing pregnant women. They're everywhere. I almost don't want to grocery shop anymore just because it makes me sad to see SO MANY PREGNANT BELLIES. Maybe I'm being hypersensitive because infertility sadness sort of intensifies around the holidays, but is it normal to see five pregnant women in one shopping trip? Going to grocery shopping on base is like pouring salt in an open wound.

Seriously, I can't run in for some dog food without seeing AT LEAST two or three pregnant women, usually its more like five or six. And more often than not I see them with little tiny babies in the cart too. When I see a pregnant 20 year old with twin babies in a stroller pulling a cart behind them filled with baby formula and frozen dinners, I'm just like, you've got to be kidding me. The pregnant women to other people ratio on base is crazy skewed. I wonder what percent of the US population is pregnant compared to the US Military Population. I bet it's way higher for military.  I think it must be the full healthcare coverage, because these ladies seem to be making it their mission to pop out babies. Good. For. All. Those. Fertile. Little. Spouses.

It's hard not to be bitter about it. I feel like a bitter old hag when I find myself staring at these women, judging them for being luckier and more fertile than I am. And then I feel guilty about it, I mean, It's not their fault I'm an emotional wreck. I try to think about the fact that I don't know their stories. Just because they are pregnant doesn't mean it was easy for them. I understand empathy, in theory, it's just hard to practice in this situation, when everything just feels so unfair. I have a shopping cart full of organic produce, lactose free milk (because apparently soy milk is bad for infertile women), gluten-free bread (because I can't have gluten either), and a ton of other healthy stuff that's supposed to "boost fertility" and these young wives are walking around with multiple babies and carts full of hot pockets and Oreos.

Friday, November 9, 2012

PCOS and Natural Remedies

I've taken a bunch of medicine to try and control my PCOS, but nothing has brought back my period.

Tired of eating Metformin like candy and feeling nauseous all day, I started looking into more natural ways of coping with it. I have been exploring several approaches.

Gluten-Free: I've been attempting gluten-free for several weeks. I can't really tell a difference except for now when I cheat and eat something with a questionable gluten content, I get really sick to my stomach. I miss pizza and regular pasta. and doughnuts. Why is there gluten in all my favorite foods?

Exercise: Most women with PCOS are also overweight or obese (as a result of the PCOS), sometimes all it takes to regulate their cycles is losing some of that excess weight. I am what is sometimes referred to as a "thin PCOS." Even though I gained upwards of 25 lbs after coming off birth control, I was still considered a normal weight. I started loosing some weight with the Metformin, and felt better about myself, but saw no other positive impact on my PCOS symptoms. Even if it wont solve my PCOS problem, I do feel better all around now that I have developed an exercise regimen. I do yoga for 20-50 min everyday and spend 15 min twice a day walking my dog.

Acupuncture: I have been receiving acupuncture treatments every other week for over two months. They are $85/session and starting to become to much for us to afford. I could've probably validated spending the extra money if I were seeing any kind of results, but after my last blood work verifying that after all this time, I still haven't even ovulated, I'm losing hope that acupuncture will work for me.

Low GI Diet: Less processed foods and less sugar, more vegetables and full fat dairy. I pretty much do this anyway, minus my enormous sweet tooth. I baked some gluten-free dark chocolate cookies recently, the plate of which is slowly dwindling, and have to keep reminding myself "just because it doesn't have gluten, doesn't mean it's good for me" maybe that will be my new mantra in yoga.

Herbal Stuff: I'm still exploring this idea. Chasteberry is supposed to do something good, as well as something called Vitex. Cinnamon is also good, apparently, and I love it, so I sprinkle a little on pretty much everything.

So how are all, or any, of these attempts working? Well, in combination with all the western medicine I'm ingesting on a daily basis, these natural practices have resulted in.... nothing. I guess I should give it all more time... Rome wasn't built in a day, and all that. But after over a year with no period (longer looking back on the five years before that I was only getting withdrawal bleeds from BC) I feel like I've been doing nothing but waiting, giving it more time, trying to be patient.

My patience is fading. I'm sort of at a loss. I just don't know what more I could possibly be doing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Still not Pregnant

I had blood work done on Monday to confirm ovulation/see if I am pregnant. I hate getting blood drawn; half the time, I pass out, which terrifies me every time. This time I had the blood drawn lying down, which I think helped. It would've been relatively painless if my first vein hadn't blown and the nurse hadn't spent several minutes digging around my arm to try and fix it... She hadn't gotten enough from that arm, so she had to re-draw from my other arm. I ended up having more blood taken than necessary, and with two arms wrapped at the elbow in blue gauze/tape, I looked like a very pale ninja turtle (to make matters worse/funnier I was also wearing a green turtleneck).

Worse yet, when the nurse called with the results I was not only not pregnant (which I already assumed because of a BFN pee test I had already taken)... I had also not even ovulated. This was a bit upsetting because I had gotten a positive OPK (which I know aren't reliable with PCOS, but I don't get positives all the time like some women... I pretty much never get a positive. This is only the second time I'd seen a little smiley face on the test after having gone through probably six boxes of the stupid things) It's been over a year since I had my PCOS diagnosis (and well over a year since we started TCC) and I STILL haven't ovulated. WTF? So over the last year I have not had a single, actual, shot at getting pregnant.

So the plan now is 10 continuous days of clomid with a pelvic ultrasound scheduled a couple of days after that. Though the five previous attempts with clomid have done exactly NOTHING for me, my RE thinks that this dose, for longer, might finally get me to ovulate. I have my doubts. I am going to do a little research and if I haven't made progress in the ovulation department, I'm going to suggest we start talking about more serious treatments and procedures.

In other news, I had a nice little break from employment but B and I decided that we didn't want to give up our nights out/extra spending and as our savings dwindled, I needed to get a job, fast. So now I have two, which I haven't started yet because they are both govt. jobs and require excessive background checking/clearances. I'm worried about the added stress of two jobs and nervous about making the timing work with two different schedules. The stress is not good for TCC, I know. But being broke is not good for it either. I'm sure it will all work out. I feel like I do a whole lot of waiting and worrying... story of my life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meeting Adorable Children

This weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time with my family on the East Cost (we left JUST before the storm). My cousin and his wife have the most adorable children in the world. The oldest is so smart. He knows all kinds of things about NYC and can give directions as well as some adults I know. He's like, 4. The littlest one is about a year and a half, I think. She's the giggliest baby I've ever met and she was obsessed with Paisley, which was too cute for words.

Usually being around kids, especially really cute ones, makes me a little bitter and sad. I've been known to tear up after seeing kids do cute stuff like bark at Paisley when she's on her walk, or play games with their grandparents out at a restaurant.

Being around these particular children though, was refreshing and inspiring for some reason. I just felt happy to be spending time with them, and so hopeful for the future. Maybe it is because I got to interact with them, get to know them, instead of just seeing them and being like "well, that kid was adorable. Why should that person get to have that cute kid when I can't have one? I hate my life." Maybe it's because I can't be bitter because I know what amazing parents these particular children have. Either way, I left hopeful that I WILL be able to have a baby one day (through whatever means it ends up happening) and inspired to be the kind of parent my cousins are to their kids.

I think one of the worst parts of infertility for me is the fact that I love kids so much. There are people who like kids, who maybe want children sort of abstractly, there are some who love theirs but are sort of "eh" about other peoples, and then there are those who just get them. I get kids. I love them, and they love me. I've never met a kid who wasn't instantly just as enamored with me as I am with them. I'm not trying to sound conceited, but it's just a fact. They love me.

That's why seeing adorable babies makes me so bitter. I just know how much I love other peoples kids, I can't even imagine the kind of love I could have for my own. It sort of overwhelms me to think about, actually. And that thought invariably leads to the fact that there is a possibility I could never get to experience that relationship, and that devastates me.

It also makes me bitter when I compliment someone on their small child and they say something like, "they're not so cute when you're chasing and cleaning up after them all day." I've worked in a pre-school, spent ALL DAY with toddlers, running after them, changing diapers, reading stories. I spent more waking hours with these children than their parents and I freaking LOVED it. I get so annoyed with these parents who don't seem to appreciate how amazing their children are.

I try to be understanding, maybe they've had a really bad day... maybe they're just quieted their screaming child or got peed on or something and they're feeling momentarily unappreciative. Honestly, that's probably what it is most times, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to punch anyone who's all "oh, just wait until you're a mom, you won't think they're so cute once you're changing diapers all day," or, "Enjoy your time without kids, because once they're here, there's no going back!" One day I'll just be like, "Actually, I'm infertile. I might NEVER be a mom, but you can be DAMN sure that if I ever become one,  I WILL still think they're cute after sleepless nights and countless diapers. I will absolutely appreciate them more than you seem to appreciate yours. Count your blessings"... "Bitch" (I'd probably just add that last part in my head).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Little Sparkley Shoes

It's been over a week since I wrote a blog post. I don't know why exactly, but I've been feeling sort of blase about my infertility lately. I walked past adorable families with newborns, picked up a tiny little sparkley TOMS shoe, and endured some "getting pregnancy is easy and instant" TV references without bursting into tears. I didn't feel compelled to journal my feelings. I kept thinking, it is what it is... maybe I'll never get pregnant, maybe I will. I thought maybe I was just cried out. Nope.

Yesterday I had another meltdown. My husband told me he was relieved; he had been worried I was holding in my emotions.

It's a lot of things, really. I just feel like a failure. I've always been a go-getter, most likely to succeed and all that. I graduated high school with a million academic and extra curricular accolades, and excelled similarly in college, finishing with a 4.0. Then I got married and started my new life as an Air Force spouse. I've sort of given up on finding a position teaching art, but it would be nice if I could at least get a position substitute teaching. I've applied all over, event at Starbucks, and nothing. I have a teaching degree for goodness sakes. I got a job waiting tables, which I hated and left. I couldn't even hack it as a waitress. As a formerly independent woman who is now unemployed and completely dependent upon her husband, who she gave up a career for, I feel like such an idiot. FEMINIST FAIL.

Also, I have no friends, at least not here in Virginia. There is no one I could call up and be like, "hey, lets get a coffee." Really, how are adults supposed to make friends? At a job? Well, the last couple of jobs I've had have not really been conducive to building friendships. I've seriously thought about making business cards and shopping for friends at Trader Joe's. I've had the same friends from school and dance since I was a child. I'm not good a starting new friendships. Am I unlikeable? FRIENDSHIP FAIL.

And then, the ONE thing that I'm supposed to be able to do without even thinking about it, that my body is supposed to be built for, I can't even handle. Not only can I not get pregnant, I can't even ovulate. FEMALE FAIL. In addition, I have acne all over my face, difficulty losing weight, and thick, black hair on my upper lip, chin and chest. DOUBLE FEMALE FAIL.

I guess maybe the nonchalant feeling was more of a depression. I feel like a loser. I've always struggled with feeling not good enough, but this is worse, I feel like I can't do ANYTHING right, even the most basic things, like menstruation. I know that it's not my fault my body is revolting against me, there's not much that I can do that I'm not already doing, but I think maybe that makes it even worse. Maybe it's cyclical, even hormone induced. Maybe I go through these feelings of highs and lows every attempt? It wasn't so long ago I was posting about all the positive aspects of my infertility, and there are positive things. Even when I'm feeling so low, there is always a silver lining. 

Some good, from the bad:
Unemployment = me time.
I have time to do yoga each morning, drink a cup of tea (as slowly as I like), take a ballet class once a week, get acupuncture, cook elaborate dinners from scratch.

Delayed baby making = More time to get our shit together
Build a savings, grow stronger as a couple, stop eating junk

No bun in oven = Doing things preggo ladies can't do
Soft cheese, roller coasters, SUSHI!, martinis... Sure I'd trade my Hendricks for a little one in a second, but still, I'll miss having a drink if I ever do get pregnant.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back To Reality

B and I spent a beautiful weekend camping. We cooked s'mores, slept on a deflating air mattress, saw a bear(!), and even happened upon an apple butter celebration on a mountain top (for real).

It was a nice, relaxing, break from reality... but now I'm back.

I am trying another month of metformin, progesterone, clomid, before seeing an actual reproductive endocrinologist. In October, it will be 16 months that I've been struggling with infertility.

I'm not sure if it's because of the fact that I'm dealing with the military healthcare system, or that being brought up in a family who pretty much never went to the doctors has rendered me ill equip to handle anything of medical nature and has made me a terrible advocate for myself, or that (based on various comments from my doctors who told me that I'm "still so young," that I "have plenty of time," and "should have no trouble getting pregnant") I'm not a priority in the infertility world, but I feel like my treatment process has taken longer than it should.

We found out I had PCOS in Biloxi, and decided to start actively trying to conceive because it was clear it would be a struggle. The doctor immediately started me on a regimen of progesterone and clomid for three months, upping my dosage each time. With no pregnancy and no ovulation, we would have continued the medicine with monitoring and done further testing to make sure my fallopian tubes and all that stuff was working properly. But then we moved. I couldn't make an appointment with women's health until I had a referral from my primary physician, who didn't have an open appointment for six weeks. I started crying in the doctors office and I guess they pitied me and pulled some strings to get me in sooner with another doctor. From that appointment, It took me a month to get in to see my OB/GYN and restart the whole process, only she did not want to continue the clomid treatments until we tried less serious medicine. I was totally cool with that, until it became clear that the metformin was not having it's intended results.

She never thought it was necessary to see me in person, when I'd call she'd forget what she'd told me the time before and completely change her mind... "let's try another three months on the same dose, and then we'll add the clomid" after she'd told me the month prior that if I hadn't started menstruating in a month, we'd start with clomid... this, by the way, after she'd been telling me from the start, and through five months of metformin, that she wouldn't feel comfortable giving me a period inducing drug or trying clomid. It took eight months of ineffective treatments and getting brushed off and fed more medicine before I finally got a referral to an infertility specialist.

Today I tried to make an appointment with the RE that I should have been sent to several months ago, but apparently they're "at capacity," so I have an appointment for a month from now with an RE that's even further away, with a super sketchy looking website, and I feel totally helpless.

Do I even have a choice? I have no idea how TRICARE works. I think I could ask to see another specialist since they're already sending me off base, but I don't even know what kind of paperwork would go into that, or where I'd start. And what if I actually get pregnant? My referral is for 6 appointments only. By then maybe they'd have space for me at Portsmouth, which is an hour away, if traffic is good, which it never is, so it's more like two. What if I had an emergency and got stuck in the tunnel? My worst nightmare (aside from the one where I never get pregnant) is that I do, and I end up having a complication and having to go to some random hospital with some doctor I've never met. I guess that's part of the deal with infertility. I can either be a confused, helpless, victim, or I can become an advocate for myself. I need to start playing a more active role in my treatment. If I'm unhappy with the care that I am getting, I can, and should speak up. Easier said than done, but I'm resolved to try.

10 Good Things

Growing up, whenever I'd complain about something, a bad day, a "B" on a paper, my mom would sing this to me: "accentuate the positive, eliminate all the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with mister in-between." (kinda like any time I'd ask for anything special... lifesize barbie, etc. she'd sing The Rolling Stones' "You can't always get what you waaaaaant").

So, even though I've been feeling extra lousy I keep coming back to that idea... accentuating the positive, or trying to at least. Even though I'm dealing with infertility, which is infinitely shitty, I do have so much to be thankful for because of my struggle with infertility. 

1. I have a husband who loves me, unconditionally, and would do anything for me. I read comments from other women whose husbands "refuse to get a semen analysis" or "would never consider adoption" husband would never even think of discounting my feelings like that. I think the experience of infertility has made our relationship stronger, and our resolve to grow our family even more firm.

2. I have a diagnosis. It sucks having PCOS, but it's a good thing to know. So many women suffer through PCOS for years and never know, or are misdiagnosed or ignored when they express concern. I'm 23 years old, I know I have PCOS, and I'm making strides to get it under control... I count myself ahead of the game. 

3. When I eventually do become a mom, through whatever means that ends up happening, I will be grateful for every moment. 

4. My dog is the sweetest dog in the entire world. She's my baby girl. She's always down for a cuddle, especially when I break down in tears and hold up in my bed, curled up in a ball. She will come check on me... rest her head on the pillow next to mine and look at me like, "it's okay, mommy, you still have me."

5. Before my struggle with infertility, I knew I wanted children, but I was sort of consumed by the desire for a baby girl. I researched all the ways to conceive a girl. I thought about only girl names. I thought about how disappointed I would be to have a boy, how it would be 'just my luck' because things rarely work out in my favor. Now I just feel so... stupid, selfish, ridiculous for having those thoughts. If I ever do have a biological child, I will be just as elated to have a boy as I would be for a girl, because it will be an absolute miracle.

6. My body is kinda rockin right now. I always felt like my body was pretty average; I always wanted to be thinner, prettier, more confident, but still I felt good (if not great) about the way I looked. I never really considered how lucky I was to feel good in my skin, until I gained 20 pounds. At the height of my PCOS I had gained a lot of weight, my face was covered in acne, my hair felt greasy all. the. time, I had dark hairs growing out of my chin, and cheeks, and chest, I was not menstruating, I had never felt worse about myself, or less like a woman. Even though the metformin makes me nauseous pretty much all the time, it has also regulated my hormones enough that I have been able to lose the weight I gained since stopping birth control and subsequently having my PCOS symptoms develop. After over 6 months of hating myself, I can once again button up my beloved high waisted cutoff Levis, I don't have to squeeze into my old dance clothes, I can look in the mirror without feeling disgusted, in fact, when I look in the mirror, I feel great, and that's awesome.

7. I have a new sense of understanding toward other women. I have bad days, like really bad days, like, burst into tears in the middle of target because I walked past the baby aisle kind of days. I'm usually pretty good at covering up the pain though, and it makes me think, how many of the other women that I see feel just as sad and isolated, and I'd never know? It makes me think more carefully about the way I speak to, and about, other women.

8. ...aaaaand that's all I can think of. I was going to try to come up with 10 positive things that have come from my infertility, but I think 7 is as positive as I'm going to get, which is definitely progress from "everything in my life is falling apart and I have nothing going for me and I fail at life." I think if I can keep trying to focus on the positive, I will have more good days than bad ones. That's the plan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Infertility and shame

Money, politics, religion, sex can are be super awkward to talk about but infertility feels somehow above and beyond "taboo." It's all wrapped up in the privacy and intimacy of sex, something we tend to be super squeamish about in our culture. Infertility language is all "semen and sperm and cervical mucus and ovaries and sex positions" and it feels really uncomfortable and too personal to talk about. But beyond the "it's yucky" aspect, there is so much shame associated with infertility. Verbalizing it feels like admitting failure. There's this one, basic thing as a female that I am supposed to be able to do, and I can't. But there's nothing I can do to change it (aside from treating the symptoms) and there's nothing I did to cause it, so why should I be embarrassed about it? I shouldn't. And if it might help others to hear my story, why shouldn't I talk about it. I should. But realizing this and actually being able to be upfront about it with people are different things.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trying to Stay Grounded

Most women ovulate each month. I haven't ovulated in 14. That is, until ten days ago. I peed on my ovulation predictor stick at night on day 10 of my cycle, got sick of waiting for the result, and went to bed. The next morning I went to take another test (I was going all out, testing twice a day this cycle) and ejected the strip to find a smiley face!

I'd gone through three boxes of Ovulation Prediction Kits and had NEVER seen a positive. It's always an empty circle, the connection of which, to an empty womb, is never lost on me. But that day, CD10, there was a totally different association, one between a smiley face on a pee covered stick, to the smile that quickly spread across my face. It's best to have had sex before ovulation... I thought back, we definitely had! We did it again right then and there, and for the next few days, just to be sure ;)

I then began stalking "," because I knew that the next two weeks would be difficult, and I'd heard that reading others' stories might help. So I started looking at the "symptoms" other women started having on certain days after ovulation. Lower back aches, check, acne breakout, check, getting up at night to pee, check, I even had what could be "implantation bleeding" at 9DPO (days past ovulation). What if I'm pregnant, right now? What if I'm not, and I've gotten myself all excited about it?

I'm trying to manage my expectations. I keep telling myself that even just ovulating is progress. But I can't help my imagination... if I'm pregnant now, then around Thanksgiving or Christmas, I might be able to tell friends and family! and how perfect because my parents might be in town! and we'd have the baby May-ish, which would be around our anniversary!.. and Leo or Milo would be so cute for a boy, and Amelia if it's a girl... and on, and on. UGHHHHHH. A girl can dream. And I do, but I also think about everything that could go wrong, even if I do get pregnant. After over a year of struggling with infertility I start to look at the bigger picture; it took me 14 months to even ovulate, what if it takes 14 more to get pregnant? And what from there?

What happens if I do get pregnant? What if I'm pregnant NOW? I get that little plus sign on that test, what then? What if it's an ectopic or chemical pregnancy, whatever those are (don't want to research, don't want to freak myself out more, ignorance is bliss)? What if I have a miscarriage? What if I have the baby prematurely? What if I carry the pregnancy to term, and lose it during childbirth? What if I have a perfectly healthy child and they're killed in a car accident a year later? These are the places my mind goes... I must be nuts. I'm having anxiety about a pregnancy that probably doesn't even exist... and might never exist.

Whatever happens, I know that there is only so much control over the situation that I have. The best thing I can do is keep myself healthy, try to stay positive, and try to keep believing that everything happens for a reason, and that when I do have a baby and through whatever process it comes to be, I will know why I had to wait so long and struggle so much to get to that moment. And it will have all been worth it.


Contrary to popular belief, and what TV shows like "16 And Pregnant" and movies like "Knocked Up" portray, unprotected sex does not automatically equal pregnancy. Maybe for some people, but not for most, and certainly not for me. I sorta understand all the "if you have sex, you will get pregnant, and your life will be over" scare tactics from high school sex ed and depicted on TV. But at the same time, I think it's important not to gloss over the fact that getting pregnant isn't a given, its a complicated biological process that can take months, and months of trying, even for healthy couples.

Until I started trying to get pregnant, I had NO idea how much had to go "right" in order for that to happen. Charting, ovulation testing, timing sex, it all seemed so extreme. I figured that all I'd have to do was stop trying to "not, get pregnant" and it would happen. Going from the mindset of "unprotected sex = pregnancy" to "it could take years of trying to get pregnant" is a long way to fall. It's a huge blow to a woman's self-esteem. Personally, it made me feel like a failure. These 16 year old children are getting pregnant, and I can't? What's wrong with me?

When B and I decided to start trying, we were so excited! It didn't take long for me to realize something was not normal. A couple months later, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I suddenly felt so stupid for all the times I'd been late for my period, been like, "OH NO! What if I'm pregnant?!" took pregnancy test and been so relieved by the negative result. Several years, and twenty-some negative pregnancy tests later, the idea of being relieved by a negative test result feels so foreign. Now every time I get a negative, I feel defeated... beyond defeated, I feel inadequate, broken, depressed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You Guys Aren't Pregnant Yet, Are You?

I don't know what it is that makes people think they have a say in my reproductive prospects, but everyone seems to want to weigh in on the topic. I guess it's normal for people to wonder... first comes love, then comes marriage, and all that, but I really wish people would be a little more sensitive about it. B and I are nearly constantly barraged with questions, comments, and advice from friends, family, and complete strangers at bars or in line at The Gap...

"So, have you thought about kids?"

"When am I going to get grand babies?"

"Why don't you have babies? You guys would make beautiful babies."

"You wouldn't want kids now, would you? You're too young!"

"You're not pregnant are you?!?"

"Don't let him talk you into having babies; you need to wait."

"Wait a few years, travel, enjoy each other. You'll have plenty of time for kids later."

"Having kids is the greatest, you should start trying!"

Those questions and comments, when you're not yet thinking of kids, are obnoxious. When you've quietly started trying, they are annoying. But when you're infertile and don't know if you'll ever be able to get pregnant, comments like that are more than just annoying, they're painful...  it's a low blow, and people don't even realize they're inflicting it. Smiling and saying, "we're not pregnant yet, but we'd like to be someday" or "Oh, don't worry, we're not getting pregnant any time soon" (depending on who's asking and what they need to hear to make them stop pushing the issue) is wearing on me. Even though it's not really lying, I hate having to be so evasive about it.

Sometimes I just want to be like "no, we're not pregnant, we've been struggling with infertility for over a year, we might never conceive a child, stop asking," or better yet a simple, "It's none of your business." I don't want to make people uncomfortable though, and when I say it out loud, I usually burst into tears, so I'll probably just continue to be vague about it when people ask. If I'm not comfortable enough to talk about it, I can't really blame them for being insensitive to an issue they don't know exists. They're not trying to make me upset; they just don't realize what's going on. I just wish people would realize that it's never really appropriate to ask someone about something as intimate as whether or not they're trying to have children. If someone wants you to know about their reproductive plans, they'll let you know.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Everyone Is Pregnant

When I look through my facebook friends, I can count twenty women who have given birth or announced pregnancies in the past year.  It seems like everyone I know is pregnant. They're posting ultra-sound pictures, complaining about weight gain, instagramming their bump progression, announcing gender, and I'm cringing, and crying, and hating myself with every post. 

So I hid them from my profile. All of them. I had to do it, for my own sanity. Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). I still don't fully understand what it is, or how I am supposed to cope with it for the rest of my life, but what it means at this point is that if I ever want to have a baby, I am going to have to work for it. So that's what B and I have been doing for over a year... charting, planning, taking drug after drug after drug, attending appointment after appointment. So every time a friend (or worse, a frenemy!) announces they're expecting a child, I just want to curl up in a ball and die.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling a little sadistic, or need a good cry, I look at the profiles of my pregnant friends. They're all glowing and lovely, and I'm all acne ridden, hairy, bloated, nauseous from all the medication, and completely and utterly un-pregnant.

I have to remind myself that it's not easy for everyone to get pregnant. Just because someone posts a happy maternity picture, doesn't necessarily mean they didn't struggle to get there. But no one talks about infertility problems. It's such a private struggle. Even as I write this, I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable sharing it with anyone. I do feel that writing about it is therapeutic, so I suppose I'll keep this up.