Microblog Monday: Stress

August 15, 2016

Hello Old Friends. I’m back, if only briefly.

Apparently motherhood agrees with me. Or rather, unburdening stress agrees with me.

Recently I’ve been told I look younger(!), thinner (the scale disagrees but I’ll take it), and generally happier and calmer. All this despite a major move, Right Guy being out of work and our little family currently shacking up with MIL and BIL. There is so much uncertainty in our lives right now people are amazed at how well I *appear* to be handling it.

The surprise seems to come mostly from non-IF friends – even from those close to me who know the whole story. They know how much we’ve been through and how long we’ve been waiting for 2 to become 3. Yet somehow they still expected motherhood to turn me into a chronic complainer. Yes, there are trying moments. But the level of stress required to care for this tiny human is far, far less than the level of stress I was under for the SIX YEARS (and 3 surgeries) I spent trying to acquire said tiny human.

So…major move, unemployment with a new baby and living with in-laws is apparently NOTHING compared to the prolonged stress of infertility and the adoption process. This is not all that surprising to me. But how do we make others understand what infertility does to you?

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NIAW Aftermath

May 2, 2013

If you follow me on Twitter then you probably witnessed, or heard about, a slight freak out on my part about 2 weeks ago. And a few others voiced similar opinions as well. It seems National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was triggering for many of us. And I think I now understand WHY.

Resolve is an organization committed to helping women/men find resources and doctors for infertility as well as educate the general public about this disease. They are very good at what they do. If you think you might have fertility issues or if you just want to learn more about this disease and how it affects the general population then I highly recommend following the link and checking out the site.

But, during NIAW, I felt abandoned by Resolve. Why? Because they spent the entire week trying to educate the general public, newly diagnosed or soon-to-be diagnosed infertiles and showcasing infertiles who have moved on to parenting (through whatever means). They partnered with parenting.com for Frog’s sake. Really? The organization that is supposed to advocate for me starts showing babies in my feed? Not cool, Resolve. Not cool.

I felt that they had somehow shifted their focus away from me. I felt abandoned.

Now that the nonsense of NIAW is over I see things a bit differently.

Resolve didn’t shift focus away from me.

I simply moved out of its focus.
out of focus

[photo source]

I’ve actually been outside its focus for some time now. Resolve has never focused on the minority of women (& men) who remain childless after years of treatment. We are the ugly side of infertility. Nobody wants to see us because we haven’t “succeeded.” Some of us have simply chosen to stop treatments and live child free. Others have stopped treatments and are pursuing adoption but haven’t yet found their child. Some are on hold because their relationship dissolved and they are unsure how/when/whether to continue the pursuit of solo parenting a tiny human. And some of us are still pursuing treatments but our bodies just aren’t cooperating.

Who speaks for us? No one. But us. And we are a dwindling minority.

We don’t need Resolve’s resources to find a doctor – we’ve probably all already cycled through multiple Reproductive Endocrinologists. We don’t need to take an online “Test Your Fertility Knowledge” quiz – we could teach the freaking class at this point. We’ve read all the articles about our respective conditions – assuming we have a diagnosis. We’ve tried all the herbs, etc.

We are a group of Been There, Done That. And it just feels like there’s no place for us anymore. We are out of focus.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as angry or whiny. It’s really meant to be an epiphany. I am no longer angry at Resolve for abandoning me. I’ve just accepted that I am not their demographic. My entire infertility experience (I really hate calling it a journey) has been unique (everyone’s is unique, mine has just been more so by also being RARE). I don’t fit in any of the boxes. And I have to just accept that and find comfort and community wherever I can.

But odds are it will not be in anything affiliated with Resolve. I’m barely hanging on to Twitter at the moment.

The Good: My Antral Follicle Count=13! Considering my AFC was 2 back in December this is really quite an improvement. 🙂 Also, I’m starting acupuncture tomorrow.

The Bad: I know what my AFC is because I’m not pregnant. Another BFN. 😦

The Ugly: I misunderstood the protocol so this cycle is going to cost me more than I realized. :-/

the good the bad and the ugly

Many thanks to all my supportive tweeps for the comments earlier today. My apologies for being AWOL from twitter. But I just need to hide out in my cave for a bit.

June ICLW

June 21, 2010

This is my first ICLW (if you don’t know what IComLeavWe is just click on the red banner on the right). I’m a N00b. Presumably there will be a lot of new traffic this week so I thought I’d write an About Me post to sum up what this blog is about. There are also some informative links at the top (you know, like the one that says ‘About’ 😉 and Infertility Timeline ). I started this blog just a few months ago when I started to feel an overwhelming sense of needing to get everything out. I write it for me but it would be nice if others found it useful or helpful in some way. I’m still keeping it anonymous for now so that I can feel comfortable venting about people I know in real life and to protect my boyfriend’s identity – he’s a private person. On this blog I refer to him as “Right Guy.” In the Twitterverse I’m known as @StolenEggs.

I’m 36, divorced, and I have Premature Ovarian Failure/Insufficiency (POF/POI). I discovered this by experiencing hot flashes and night sweats while on Nuva Ring (I’ve been on BC for years due to endometriosis). For those that don’t know, POF is very similar to menopause – it essentially IS menopause that occurs in women under 40. It means I’m running out of eggs and I don’t ovulate very often. It means I have a pretty slim chance of having my own biological child. It also means I’m at a greater risk for heart disease and osteoperosis. After receiving the official diagnosis Right Guy and I decided to alter our relationship timeline and go ahead and try to get pregnant now. Because it’s now or never. Marriage can happen anytime. The babymaking can’t.

As if that’s not enough to deal with, I also still take care of my father part time (I did it full time for a year and part-time for the past 4-5 years). He’s a two-time lung cancer survivor who has been weakened by chemo in both body and spirit. He currently still lives alone but that situation is always precarious. Last year he stopped eating properly and ended up hospitalized for pneumonia and malnutrition with an altered mental state (due to the infection). Once I finally got him to the hospital I still had to stay with him round the clock for three days straight until his mental state normalized. So every cough or ache or pain he experiences makes me wonder if there’s more chemo or hospitals in the near future. I’m also moving away in a year and I have to figure out what to do for him when I leave.

There have been a few studies that equate the level of stress women (and men) experience while going through infertility with the level of stress for cancer patients and people in war so I’m trying my best to do whatever I can to relax and be healthy. I’ve gotten back in to swimming which I used to do when as a kid and I’ve gotten back in to photography which has been an on and off again hobby since I was in high school. I’m contemplating acupuncture but I think I’ll just go get a massage to start with. At some point, I’d like to incorporate some wine posts in to this blog but I’m drinking a lot less these days for obvious reasons.

There are a lot of pictures on this blog. I decided to start my own series called Sunflower Sunday where I post a flower picture every Sunday. Lately I’ve gotten really into macro flower shots so I’ve got plenty of material. And I also participate in Calliope’s Photo Friday series. You never know what those themes will be!

As for recent happenings I’ve just started a low glycemic diet and am following other advice from my cousin who just started and Age Management Medicine practice. It’s really interesting stuff! I’m not sure I’m really a convert just yet but I’m giving it a whirl. On the fertility treatment front, I’m currently regrouping after a failed Clomid cycle and waiting to start an injectibles cycle next month. I have no idea if the shots will work any better than the Clomid. Essentially ALL fertility treatments work in the same way – by raising your FSH. My FSH is already high. My body is doing that all on its own. Which means I might be completely screwed on this one. I am slowly crawling out of the crater of devastation caused by the diagnosis and that realization.

Feel free to explore the blog. There’s a lot of potentially useful info in it as well as some rants. If you look to the right you’ll find a tag cloud (you may or may not need to scroll depending on your screen/resolution). You can click on any of the tags to see the relevant posts. Or, if you’re feeling lazy here’s a good place to start: Last Week’s Recap. Here’s some info on Premature Ovarian Failure/Insufficiency.

Alienation

June 20, 2010

Last night I went out to a party with Right Guy’s work friends. I haven’t been going out much lately and when I have we’ve mostly hung out with my friends and/or mutual friends. Almost all of them know about what’s going on with me and most of them know we’re trying to get pregnant because of it. But his work friends… I doubt it. Unless he’s told them – and why would he? – I’m sure they don’t know a thing about it. Most of that crowd is slightly younger – late 20s & early 30s – and single. The ones who were still at the party at 11pm anyway. Most of the marrieds (with or without kids) had cleared out by the time we got there. Except one couple. And they had their toddler with them. Before you get all outraged that someone had a toddler out at a party at 11pm let me just remind you that this was a party of pediatricians. There were probably about 5 of us there who were not pediatricians. So if they want to keep their toddler out late I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I hadn’t seen this toddler since he was a breastfeeding baby so I was surprised at how much he’d grown. And of course, those feelings of jealousy started creeping in. And I thought I had them under control. It was just the one couple and one kid. I can handle that, right? Well then I started feeling jealous of all the other women there. They’re all fertile and woe is me, poor little me, I am not. But then it occurred to me [light bulb over my head moment]. They might not be fertile. None of them have kids. Maybe they’re not fertile. People are presumed fertile until proven otherwise. So maybe I wasn’t the lone Infertile in the group. And then it hit me [Wile E Coyote getting hit with a ton of bricks moment]. I wasn’t jealous of them for being fertile. I was jealous of them for being normal and still having more or less flat tummies. It wasn’t the infertility that was making me feeling alone and different. It was the POF (premature ovarian failure, a.k.a early menopause).
Wile E Coyote
I think the odds are decent that someone else at that party will experience some level of infertility at some point. The stats on infertility are like a moving target – I keep seeing different numbers. But 1 in 8 (or 7 or 6) couples experience infertility. And there were certainly enough couples there for those odds. But I think the odds of one of those women going through menopause early are much, much less. 1 in 100 women in their 30s and 1 in 1000 in their 20s. It’s a lot more common than you would think but it’s still a low number. I was feeling alienated because no one else there could know what it’s like. It’s not just the infertility. It’s the feeling old. Feeling like I’m 50 when I’m only 36. Having to worry about osteoperosis. Having to be much more conscious about my health overall. Having that old lady belly fat that is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of. If my cousin is right, there’s no diet or exercise that will get rid of it. He says I need testosterone for that.

Anyway, what to do about these feelings of isolation? I think that’s what motivated me to tell my friends (and a few coworkers). I hate pretending to feel OK when I don’t. And, although, they can’t relate they can be there for me. So I don’t feel so alone with my close friends. But I feel like a freak and so alone in a crowd of strangers or acquaintances. Last night it had me in the bathroom crying. OK so the alcohol didn’t help. But I’m still trying to figure out how to not feel isolated/alienated/alone when I’m around people who don’t know. If I shout from the rooftops “I have POF!” then I’m just defining myself by that diagnosis. That’s not what I want. I know that’s where I am right now – I’m still struggling to not let this diagnosis define me. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

But I’m not sure I’m ever going to not feel alone. 1% of the female population in their 30s. Where are they? I’ve met a few on twitter (actually several of my POF tweeps are in their 20s). And most days, I don’t identify specifically as a POFer but as an IFer and there are a TON of helpful tweeps out there for general infertility support. But I’d like to meet a fellow POFer IRL. I think. There’s a fine line between getting the support I need and letting this define me.

So I saw my RE yesterday and we came up with a new plan. I feel better just having a plan. Although, I’m not particularly convinced it’s going to work but… I’ve got to try. But I suppose I also feel better about it not working since Right Guy and I discussed our other options the other night. You can read about that here if you want. I just need to have a plan. I’m fine with plans changing but I need to have one.

I had the option of trying the clomid again (with an estrogen primer) but I chose to be more aggressive. The clock is ticking. Regardless of what protocol I use in the future this failed Clomid cycle proves that I absolutely HAVE to have an estrogen primer. When I’m off the estrogen for too long nothing is going to help: not Clomid, not injectibles. They all work in roughly the same manner: they raise your FSH. My FSH is already high so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the problem there. And my reserve is abysmal so all the treatments in the world can’t coax out an egg that doesn’t exist.

So the plan is to use a cocktail of FSH and LH. I have to go take a class to learn how to mix them up. I did go to bartending school once upon a blue moon so I think I can handle mixing my hormones. But this protocol means more shots and more monitoring ultrasounds. Gonna be interesting. I’m not sure what would come after this if it doesn’t work. She just said we could keep going until I’m either pregnant or my body proves it’s definitively not going to cooperate.

I didn’t even ask about IVF. I just don’t see how it’s possible. I know there are some die hard POFers out there who say not to give up on the idea of IVF but if I don’t have the eggs, I don’t have the eggs. The RE did briefly mention Donor Eggs but we’re not there yet and she knows that. I did ask about IUI. Everyone I encounter in this virtual infertility world seems to do them. But it doesn’t appear that I need it. Right Guy’s sperm is good and I don’t have any other issues (that we know about) so she said it wouldn’t really help us any.

The Future Plan

June 14, 2010

Since the Clomid didn’t work this month I’ve been a bit dismal. I know the jury isn’t quite out on that just yet – there’s still a (slim) chance I might O on my own. The man has not yet counted ten (I love boxing references, can you tell? I used to kick box). And there are other drugs to look at for future cycles. I’ll see the RE on Monday to come up with another plan. But it’s just made me think a lot more about what if this doesn’t work ever? In one sense, I’ve never really believed it would. In another, as I discovered Friday, I had actually allowed myself to hope that it would. I don’t think that I fully realized how much hope I had until it was dashed.

In any case it made me think more. And last night Right Guy and I discussed our options. Some time ago I attempted to give him an “out” since I am “broken.” He chose not to take it. He’s open to other options. Which is more than I can say for the ex-Hubby. But throughout our conversation last evening it became clear to me that when it comes to adoption (or donor eggs) he prefers to know the child’s history. Presumably the medical history. He is an MD after all. So it looks like if we can’t have our own, we either go for a known egg donor or an open adoption.

I think we are both OK with both options. I think being open is almost better because the child is almost certainly going to want to seek out biological parents at some point so why not make it open? When it comes to donor eggs, however, it is a bit of a tricky situation if the donor is known to you. That’s just a HUGE deal. I don’t have sisters, so that’s out. But I do have a friend who has offered her eggs to me. They are drunken offers, however. How serious is she? I guess I’ll find out. I may have a second offer as well – she’s thinking it over without me asking her. I have such GREAT friends. These two in particular are both women who do not want kids. They really like other people’s kids but they don’t want their own. Or rather, they don’t want to RAISE their own. So… we’ll see.

Since I’m a list maker and a planner, just having this conversation and better defining Plans B & C makes me feel better. And right now that’s really all that is important.