Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Bum Ovaries: Over-Analyzed

First of all, thanks so much for the feedback about going public (or not). I think I'm going to follow the line of logic that I can always tell people about it later, but can't exactly take it back once it's out there... so for now, it's just me and you, cyber-friends!

Moving on, I was at a work-related conference recently and attended a session on navigating the "Quarter Life Crisis." The description said that the quarter life crisis happens in your mid 20's to mid 30's and involves pressure to have "it" all figured out. I usually don't go to sessions like this because they are geared to my personal life a bit more than my actual job, but I decided to be selfish and check this one out.

According to this presentation, there are four stages to a quarter life crisis. And I think I'm only in the first stage.

Stage One - feel "locked in" or "trapped" by previous life choices (i.e. career, job, house, partner, etc.)
Stage Two - feel a little more empowered to make a change. Don't feel so trapped any more, and have the notion that you MUST get out
Stage Three - the trial and error separation. You get out of that previous trap in stage one.
Stage Four - rebuild your life, making new commitments that are truer to who you are.

I have been feeling very "trapped" lately, no doubt about it. This feeling is rather pervasive in my life - I feel trapped in my job (is this really where I should be right now?), my job field (did I make a mistake when I got this degree? Should I be in a different sector altogether?), and lately my location (we have a house and jobs here... does that mean I'm stuck in this city forever? I'm not sure I like living here!).

So yeah. Classic Stage One, wouldn't you think?

But as I listened to the presentation, I (of course) kept thinking about my fertility struggles. Because what I feel MOST trapped about is my inability to have children. Compared to any other feelings of being locked in or stuck, infertility pretty much takes the cake. And that got me to thinking. Maybe those feelings of being trapped in my job, field, and city are just by-products of the root of the problem - infertility.

Here's the part where I really start to over-analyze myself.

If infertility were something I could CONTROL to make a change, like most peoples' stage one culprits (i.e. relationships, jobs, location, etc.), then I sure as heck would make a change and move on and rebuild my life. But hey guess what. I'm not in control. And despite my best efforts, it's not changing.

So maybe I am projecting this trapped feeling into areas of my life that I CAN control. Like my job, my field, and my city. My "trapped" feeling from infertility has overflowed its proper compartment in my brain and has spilled into other areas more manageable, like my job.

I had a long conversation with a friend this week about my need for control and how frustrated I am that my need is not being met. And how I have started to over-control other areas of my life to make up for this lack of control. For example, I am on a strict gluten free diet. I have said goodbye to pizza, beer, sandwiches and nearly every delicious gluten-filled cake, brownie and pie. This is crazy, because I usually have no food willpower whatsoever. But now: my diet is something I can control, so I do. I have been running longer, faster, harder and better than ever before. Because I can CONTROL whether or not I park my butt on the couch or hit the pavement.

I left that conference session feeling depressed but satisfied. I enjoyed the presentation. The room was completely overfilled with people around my age (within a decade). People filled every seat and open spot on the ground, with lots more standing at the back. The good news: I'm not alone. These people might not all be battling infertility, but they are battling something. Everyone has their own crap.

The bad news: I feel as trapped as ever. Maybe even more so, because I'm realizing that perhaps I was tricking myself into thinking my entrapment (yeah, I'm pretty sure that's not the correct way to use that word) was fixable. And if it all boils down to infertility: it's just not.

So I'm not sure if I'm really going through a "quarter life crisis" or just a "fertility crisis," but maybe it doesn't matter what you call it. I'm just trying to figure out what's happening in my head lately.

But I am curious - have any of you had your own quarter life crisis (that fits the model or otherwise?)? What happened? Did you make it through and are you better for it? Do tell!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Going Public?

I just had a minor panic attack when I realized that the bloggers I subscribe to on Google Reader can also see my blog if they click on my profile. This is a problem because I read several blogs of people I KNOW and who KNOW ME (in real life!), but who don't know that I have Premature Ovarian Failure. Or a blog about it. And I haven't yet made the jump to "go public" with this information (both the POF and the blog about it).

Hence I just went through my Google feed and unsubscribed to all the (non-fertility-related) blogs of people I know. It's kind of a bummer, isn't it? Especially given the whole point of IComLeavWe - building a community and starting a conversation and providing support.

Here's the problem. I don't know if I want everyone and their mother to know I have a blog about POF and infertility. I don't even know if I want my own mother to know about the blog. So far, only Hubs knows, and it was a struggle to tell even him (and I waited a full month after starting it. And I made him promise not to read it). This is weird because I am a chronic over-sharer. I am not typically shy about embarrassing or uncomfortable stories.

But I have some strong reservations about letting other people know about this. On the one hand, it might really help people who care about me understand what's going on in my head. I know sometimes people get afraid to ask me how the baby-making is going because a) it's always kind of awkward to ask about that and b) people don't want to make me feel uncomfortable or sick of talking about it. And I do, on occasion, get sick of repeating over and over that no, the drugs didn't work, and yes, my ovaries are still broken, and no. I'm. not. pregnant. still. Going public (or even semi-public, like just sharing with close friends and family), would allow people to know what's going on without having to ask.

On the other hand (the winning hand, at this point), I am afraid that if I let people in I'll have to censor myself. Will I be able to bitch and moan about ignorant stuff people say? Will I have to put on a pretend happy face so people won't worry about me?

I've already felt like I've lost a little bit of myself in the past year, through the total and utter preoccupation of my mind with all things fertility. I want this blog to be about my honest journey. It's my place to really sort out what I'm thinking and feeling without fear of being a drag on a conversation with friends or being a burden to the people who know my story. I also like sharing with people who are also struggling with fertility and can commiserate, or with people who have been where I am and moved on, but can offer advice.

So, new friends - what is your policy on going public? What are the pros and cons as you see it? If you've gone public with your blog, who'd you tell? Any regrets?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now...

Welcome IComLeavWe friends! (If this is your first time here, you can get the skinny on my story on the sidebar to the right).

I had to update you all about my brain fog that I posted about recently but that's actually been an issue for past four months (ish). Basically I was being forgetful, easily distracted, absentminded, and just foggy. I was struggling to keep up at work and time was just sort of slipping by me. I didn't feel like I had two feet on the ground. It culminated a week ago with a really stupid and monumental slip-up at work and I realized something had to change.

So I started Hormone Replacement Therapy six days ago and I now feel amazing. It's like the clouds have parted and the sun is shining. I feel, for the first time in MONTHS like I can hold myself together. I can hold a thought in my mind for longer than 2.7 seconds. I can remember something that I just thought about 5 minutes ago. I can focus on one thing at a time. I am shocked by how much that one little pill (just 1 mg of estrogen a day) can make such a difference. And to think, I resisted getting on HRT!

My newly established brain clarity is most certainly something to celebrate. I wonder if this will also help my emotional stability, because I haven't had a breakdown in like two whole days. I did find myself bawling when I left a comment on this post from The Infertility Voice a couple nights ago, but maybe the pills hadn't fully "kicked in" at that point.

How about you all? Anyone on estrogen pills that have helped or not helped? How about emotion-wise? What should I expect?

Monday, March 19, 2012

A $2 Bill and a Four Leaf Clover

It's time to tell the story of a $2 bill and a four leaf clover and why these two things have invigorated my faith. 

When Hubs and I decided to have a baby, it didn't occur to me to be nervous about my ability to conceive until a couple of months later (no period + hot flashes = not normal?). But eventually I started to worry and I had a very private one-way conversation with God. I'm not a very religious person (I typically make it to church about once a month... sometimes more, sometimes less), but I have been known to have little chats with God on occasion.

The conversation went something like this: 

Jen: Hey God, how's it going?
God: ....
Jen: I'm thinking about this whole having-a-baby thing. And I'm sure everything's FINE, but in case it isn't, could you please give me a heads up? I'd like to know if this whole conception thing is going to be easy or hard.
God: ....
Jen: Okay, so if that works for you, I'm going to go ahead and make up some symbols so you can send me this message without having to part the heavens or something crazy. Let's go with this: if I'm good to go and I'm just being silly for no reason, show me a four leaf clover. That means I've got nothing to worry about. If maybe this won't be as easy as pie and I've got a long road in front me, how about show me a $2 bill? That means there is a reason to freak out. Sound good?
God: ....
Jen: K, great! No rush on that stuff, I'll just keep my eyes open and we'll see how things go! K thanks, bye!


I chose those symbols because they were the first two things that popped into my head. I figured that statistically, it was WAY more likely to see a four leaf clover. I hadn't seen a $2 bill in years. YEARS! Like SEVERAL YEARS! And it's not like I see four leaf clovers regularly or anything, but they pop up every so often, especially being an avid outdoor runner who stretches in the grass. And summer was still mostly in front of me. Chances were decent that a four leaf clover was just around the corner (and I looked for it all the time).

So then some time passed. I kept that little chat with God ENTIRELY to myself. Didn't even tell the hubs. July passed. August passed. September happened. And then in late September, the ball dropped. 

My husband's dad had just come in town for one reason or another and had brought over a minivan full of boxes from Hubs' childhood. It was all of his old school papers and yearbooks and toys and baseball cards and stuff like that. Over the next couple of weeks, Hubs spent hours in the basement going through these boxes - weeding out what he wanted to keep and what could be trashed. I thought absolutely nothing of it, until one night when Hubs came upstairs claiming we were rich, proudly waving FIVE $2 bills he had found in one of the boxes. Yes, FIVE.

My heart absolutely sank. I chastised him (unfairly) for showing me those bills and then I explained to him what it meant. He shrugged it off and told me I was being ridiculous. 

I half-believed him. I mean, can God really be bothered with me asking for a fertility sign? But the other half of me started to freak the hell out. Because seriously, what are the odds that Hubs' Dad would bring over those boxes at the right time, and that Hubs would have saved these $2 bills for the past 20 some-odd years and that they would resurface just a few months after I asked God to show me a $2 bill if I had a problem?

THE VERY NEXT DAY (ahh, the plot thickens), I spotted a four leaf clover in my front yard, exactly where I start and end at least 50% of my runs. I plucked it right up and put it inside a heavy book as soon as I got inside. 

THE DAY AFTER THAT, walking to my car from my office, I spotted another four leaf clover. And another. And another. And another. I kid you not, I stumbled across a humongous patch of four leaf clover after four leaf clover. It was actually hard NOT to spot them in this little patch of grass/clover. I even spotted several FIVE leaf clovers, which wasn't part of the deal, but still! 

This isn't even all of them!!!
An elusive five leaf clover
So the question: what did this mean? Was this God's way of telling me that yes, the road ahead will be long. It will not be easy. But there is an end in sight. ?? Was the five leaf clover sighting actually a new message altogether (I heard they might actually be bad luck)? Was it all just some crazy coincidence?  

It wasn't long after that that I decided to see my OBGYN to see what the deal was. And a week after that appointment, I got my diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure. 

Since that diagnosis, my relationship with God has been a bit tumultuous. I have been angry and frustrated and disappointed. I've only been back to church twice. But as angry as I have been with God, I am also thankful for these two little signs. They remind me that I'm not alone. That maybe God has a plan and knows what He's doing with me after all. He's still there for me, even when it feels like I've been completely abandoned.

I know this might all come off as a little crazy, or maybe even hokey. I don't think God arranged it so that these $2 bills found their way to me, or sprouted these four and five leaf clovers just for me (although maybe...?). But I think maybe He nudged me to ask the right question at the right time. That He popped those symbols into my mind because He could see what was coming. Either way, I think it's pretty daggone weird to be just a coincidence. And God has a history of answering these questions for me in the past (remind me sometime to tell the story about "Hero" and "I Got You Babe." Crazy!). 

I currently have another chat in the works, but I'm not going to share it until I hear back from God. I don't want to jinx it. 

So has anything like this ever happened to you? What do you think those five-leaf clovers have to do with anything? Does that throw a wrench in the message? 

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I went to the doctor on Friday to have another ultrasound and to get some blood work done. While I had 3-4 cysts in each ovary, they were all super small and apparently not active follicles. Because my blood work came back with an FSH level of 66 and estradiol of less than 20.  


So I finally gave in and I'm starting the Hormone Replacement Therapy of 1 mg of estrogen every day. I've just been feeling so yucky lately, with the brain fog and the hot flashes.Today is day three of estrogen and I think it's already helping with the hot flashes. Not yet with the brain fog, but I'm hopeful. 

I'm feeling so discouraged that my numbers were so terrible after all the lifestyle changes and supplements and acupuncture and the gluten-free diet. It's just kind of a reminder that this condition is really and truly out of my control. I might be able to make little nudges forward but for as much crap as I've already been putting myself through, this setback is hitting me hard. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Poem from the Hubs

After yesterday's brain fog, I went home and told my husband all about what a terrible day I'd had (after crying the whole way home). He rubbed my back and played with my hair and consoled me and encouraged me and was wonderful.

Then today, he sent me an e-mail from work that contained the sweetest and most thoughtful poem. I am one lucky gal. Just wanted to share.  

It’s the time of year for hoops and March Madness,
But my wife is foggy with a touch of spring sadness.

Yesterday she had a terrible time at work it’s true,
But today is a new day and we’ve got work to do.

My wife is a strong resilient woman who can’t be held down,
She doesn’t even let wrinkles crease her face when she frowns.

Just know that your husband will be there through good times and bad,
He’ll rub your back and write poems if you get sad.

Fortunately for you I love you extra when you’re blue,
But no more saying life is pointless, because that’s not true.

All of your friends and family depend on you like crazy,
And I need you most of all with or without a baby.

I hope you have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brain Fog

I'm freaking out! I have a serious, unprecedented case of brain fog lately that has culminated with me completely forgetting about and missing a "meet and greet" lunch at work with the PRESIDENT OF MY COMPANY today.

I feel like a huge idiot. This is not like me at all. I pride myself in being very kick-ass at what I do. I'm on it. I multi-task. I'm quick, efficient, and I produce quality results.

Until the past few months. I don't know if this is physiologically related to POF or if this is all wrapped up in my emotional response, but I have been forgetful. I've been uber distracted. Absent-minded. I've been floating around as if I'm not really present in any given moment. I'm there, but I'm not really THERE. Does that make any sense? It's like several hours will go by, at work or even while doing something fun like having dinner with my family, and afterwards I won't really fully remember the experience. My brain just isn't all there.

And I have had little "spells" of stupidity in the past, but not like this. Not to this extent and not to this duration. I'm a frickin' mess. Something absolutely has to change. I'm so frustrated with my situation and now myself - I've felt like completely losing it today at work. And it doesn't help that someone with a tiny newborn baby has been parked outside my office for the better part of the day.

The only glimmer of hope is that my doctor told me yesterday he is working with a woman in a similar situation as me - high FSH, lower AMH than me - who was in intermittent POF, and he just got to tell her she is pregnant a few days ago! Through the same treatment I'm on now, with the Letrozole and what not. My ultrasound didn't go great though; follicles are still very tiny.

In other news, that period I mentioned a few days ago in this post? Welcome to Day 10 of that delightful little visitor.  Granted, the past three days have just been spotting, but I'm counting it. Ten days of bleeding. Fun.

Please tell me I'm not crazy with this brain fog. Has this happened to anyone else? Am I getting premature Alzheimer's now, too???

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm Feeling Hot Hot Hot... Flashes...

The hot flashes are back. I forgot how miserable they were since I haven't had them for about 5 months.

I'm attributing their return to being on Letrozole for the past five days. It better just be from the Letrozole. I go back to the doctor in a couple days to see how I'm responding to the meds, and then I get to take another shot in the belly of Ovidrel in about a week. Then some delightful vaginal capsules of Prometrium twice a day for three days.

Ugh. Sometimes I really can't believe this is my life. I'm infertile. And I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Little Help from My Friends

Yesterday after my doctor's appointment (see horror story here), I saw someone I recognized in the waiting room of the office. This gal works at the same place as me, so I chatted with her for a few minutes. She told me she's been trying for a while, but this is only her second appointment and she hasn't yet been diagnosed with anything. I gave her the scoop on me, and we commiserated. Then she asked me not to tell anyone at work what was going on. Of course I would never dream about telling anyone about her business (I can blog about it, because no one in real life knows I even have a blog), and I assured her no one would hear a peep out of me. She hasn't told anyone outside of family what's going on and she just didn't want to get into the mess of questions, advice, and explanations.

I completely respect her decision not to tell people about infertility. I struggle all the time with who to tell and how much to tell and how to navigate this whole process. And honestly, my first instinct was to zip up this information into an airtight, opaque container and never tell a soul about it. I felt inadequate and insecure and I can completely understand the inclination to avoid well-intentioned-but-sometimes-hurtful advice. In fact, after we first got the news that I have POF, my husband had to convince me to even tell our parents.

Since then, I've told lots of people close to me. My family knows the story, some of my closest friends, my boss, a few coworkers. And as scared as I was to tell a single soul in the beginning, I'm so glad to have widened my support network. The people who know about my infertility have come to really help me get through this. They've been shoulders to cry on, lean on, vent and complain to, and extra hands to help pick up the pieces after every disappointing blood test result or negative pregnancy test.

One friend, who has PCOS and went through two rounds of IVF to get her precious 6 month old babe, has been particularly helpful. From sharing her experiences to sending a card or e-mail when I need it, she has definitely been in my corner. About a month after I was diagnosed, she sent me a card that contained a necklace.

The necklace alone was enough to bring tears to my eyes, but the story behind it really got me. She told me that her cousin gave her this necklace when she (my friend) was going through her first IVF. Someone else had given it to her cousin when she too was struggling to get pregnant. Each person who had it before me ended up having a baby. I'm the fourth person to wear it and I hope someday I too can pass it on to someone who needs it. I put the necklace on immediately and haven't taken it off since. (FYI, you can order the necklace online for $30 here).

I've also found, as I've widened my "circle of trust" (to borrow a reference from Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents), that a lot of people struggle with infertility. I told a co-worker yesterday at lunch and she then divulged to me that she's had two miscarriages in the past year. Even when I've told people who already have children, I've learned that the road to conception wasn't easy for some of them. It helps me to know I'm not alone.

While it's true some people don't know how to respond and end up saying really stupid stuff, in general I can appreciate the decisive lack of the question, "So when are YOU gonna have babies?" and being able to talk to people other than my husband about all of this. Because let's face it: as supportive and wonderful as my husband is, he can't handle the gravity of this situation (and my emotions) by himself. And I don't want to put all of that on him to take on solo anyway.

All of this being said, I still understand the urge to keep fertility struggles to oneself. Talking about it has helped me a lot (and really, so has writing about it), but it's not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. How do you decide who to share your story with? Has talking about it helped or hurt?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Modesty?

Today I went back to my RE for an ultrasound and some blood work. Usually, it's just me, the doctor, and the nurse in the room during my pelvic ultrasounds. During which they stick a long wand up my lady parts to poke around and look at my uterus and ovaries to see what kind of slacking they've been doing lately. This morning, however, there was also a resident doctor, as well as an ultrasound technician guy. So four peeps. Looking at my lady bits in person and on a screen. Fine, whatever. I have very little modesty left.

*This part gets a little gross and graphic. Sorry. Infertility can be gross and graphic. *

Did I mention I am on my period? Yes. I am. And did I mention that this is like the period to end all periods? I am practically gushing blood. It's like all the periods I missed over the past year got together and decided to have a party at the same time. 

So back to this morning. The resident doctor pokes around with the ultrasound wand; the doctors make notes on the sizes of follicles, discuss possible treatment, talk about blood tests, etc. And then the resident removes the wand, which is covered in blood. The wand has a plastic wrap around it, so he takes off the plastic and then like holds it up and awkwardly fumbles around the room, while still talking. Four pairs of eyes couldn't look away from this plastic wrap full of my blood waving around in the air. And it just kept waving.

THROW IT IN THE TRASH CAN! (this is me, silently willing him to stop waving it around). AT LEAST COVER IT UP..... FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, STOP IT!  

Several agonizing seconds later, the nurse took it out of his hands and threw it away. Thank God. She apologized afterwards for the humiliation. I had to just shrug it off. Yep. Modesty is definitely a thing of the past.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Period: Friend or Foe?

Period = foe
As a young adult and well into my twenties, I considered my period as the enemy. Who wants to leak blood while feeling bloated, crampy and generally gross for a week every month? Um, yeah. Not me. I hated it. I wished I never had a period. Who's idea was this, anyway? What a ridiculous and horrendous curse on women! No fair! I call foul!

Period = friend
Things have changed. My have they changed. When I first went over 100 days without a period after getting off the pill, I started to realize that no period = something is up. And when I finally got my period that September, I was relieved. And for a couple of cycles, I was just relieved that my body seemed to be doing something right.

Period = frenemy?
I'm now in weird place with my period. On the one hand I'm disappointed. Because a visit from Aunt Flo means I'm very much not pregnant. This is why the last several times I've gotten this visit, Day One of the visit was spent crying in the shower. Because apparently the sore boobs and cramps were not impossibly early signs of pregnancy and really just an indication of a certain house guest (body guest?) on her way. Of course, I already knew that I wasn't pregnant, but a small part of me must hold out hope.

It has also come to mean that I am starting a fresh cycle, typically for me after a looooong going-nowhere cycle during which my ovaries are huffing and puffing to get something accomplished and they just run out of gas. The cycle that just ended was 63 days long. My chart was all over the place. And so were my ovaries. So I've really just been mentally ready to get this one over with already and see what the next one brings.

So while Day One (yesterday) of the cycle was spent shedding some tears, today will be spent looking forward to the possibility that this month could be the one. Here's hoping!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stab to the Heart

If you are pregnant and talking to someone who is struggling with infertility, here is what you should never, ever say: 

"If it makes you feel any better, being pregnant is TERRIBLE!"  

Because no.  It does not make me feel any better. 

Not even a little.