Monday, July 30, 2012

Life Outside of Infertility

Being that this is my blog about infertility, that's mostly what I talk about on here. But as you know from my previous post, I'm trying hard to remember that there is more to my day to day life than infertility. So I thought I'd let you all know what the "more" is these days. It's not particularly exciting, but at least I'm trying, right?

Hubs and I had a massive flood in our house in December. Just a few days shy of my 29th birthday, I came home from work to a waterfall coming out of the kitchen ceiling. And upon further investigation, one in my basement as well. Turn out, the toilet on our second floor had exploded sometime that day and gushed water for several hours. It flooded that bathroom then flooded the kitchen on the first floor, then the basement. Enter: several weeks of drying, dehumidifying, and construction on the house. For a while, our house looked like this:

The good news? We were able to get rid of our crappy wallpaper and ugly laminate floors in the kitchen and bathroom with the insurance money! So here it is, July 30, 2012, nearly EIGHT MONTHS after our flood in December, and we are putting the finishing touches on our construction this week. I'll show you before and after pictures when we're done!

I run every single day as part of a year-long commitment. On September 1, 2011, I challenged a group of about 25 students and staff at my campus to run at least one mile every single day for one year.  I started this group because I wanted some kind of motivation after last summer, during which I was total lazy bum. I told myself (and everyone else who got on board): It's ten minutes. Who doesn't have at least ten minutes to spare every day?

There are four of us left (including zero college students).

It's been tough. Ten minutes is how long it takes me to run a mile (actually, my time has improved a LOT since last year, so I'm more at the 9 minute pace now), but it doesn't include the time to get clothes and shoes on or to cool down and shower afterwards. And EVERY DAY... includes EVERY DAY. I had to run a mile on the day of my sister's wedding. Christmas. New Years Day. The day after my marathon (that was not a pretty one). I've run kind of drunk. I've run in jeans. I've run barefoot. I've run through tropical storm Debby.

I CAN'T WAIT for September 1, 2012. Well, for September 2, 2012, cause I have a half-marathon on September 1. And September 2, my butt is not leaving the couch.

Hubs and I have recently become obsessed with Breaking Bad. We somehow only starting watching a few weeks ago and we are plowing through the first four seasons like champs. We're halfway through Season Four and we're DVR'ing Season Five so we can seamlessly start those eps as soon as we're finished.

We've actually been watching a lot of TV via Netflix these days. While mostly we watched critically acclaimed shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men:

I am a hardcore follower of The Bachelor/ette & The Bachelor Pad. Consider it a guilty pleasure. I even joined Twitter last week just so I can follow my favorite bachelors and bachelorettes of the past. I realize this may have knocked me down a notch or two in the totem pole of your mind. Forgive me!

Okay, so those are only a few things but now you know a bit more about me / my life.

*Note. Okay, so two of the four on this very brief list have to do with TV... but this list is more of what my day-to-day looks like instead of meaningful stuff.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hubs: A Chat & Flowers

In the past week, five people have told me I "look tired." I think that's just a nice way of saying "you look like shit!" Hmph. 

Last night Hubs and I had a chat about where things are and where they’re going, in regards to our infertility “journey”. You might reason that this would be a normal topic of conversation, as I think about it probably a hundred times a day and “being infertile” is always a lurking presence in the back of my mind. However, we very rarely TALK about it, except occasional references to the doctor or annoyances at seeing a ton of baby bumps, etc.  So this was a nice little “check-up” to see how we’re both doing.

We started by talking about how I’ve been depressed. I told him I’m worried that this depression isn’t just a phase and that being infertile is actually re-wiring my brain to be different. I know I’ll never be who I was before, but what if I don’t ever get back to being a happy person? He said that was his biggest fear through this whole thing. He’s way more concerned about me and how IF has affected me than he is about having a baby. He’s accepted that this is the hand we’ve been dealt and we just have to play it. But what if we don’t ever get there? What if we never a baby? “That’s a possibility” he said. “But we can still be happy. I don’t define myself in my ability to be a father. I still have a role and a purpose to be a good husband and brother and son and employee.”

It reminded me of something my therapist said Monday during our session. I just finished telling her how pissed I was that I did everything right in life. I never broke a rule, never got in trouble, got straight A’s through most of high school and college, put my education first, was always careful in everything I did. And look at me now. It didn’t work. That’s where my therapist stopped me. “Whoa, whoa whoa. What do you mean it didn’t work? You have a happy marriage, a wonderful family and a stable job.” Oh, right. You mean there’s more to life than having a baby? What?!?  Clearly, my husband has already figured this out.

So when Hubs talked about other ways he defines himself, I sat on it for a minute. Do I also feel that way? Can I garner some purpose from my roles as a wife, daughter, sister and employee? The verdict is still out on that one.

I do know I’m very lucky to have a husband who loves me despite being both physically and emotionally broken right now. He even sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers yesterday at work – completely out of the blue. No reason at all. The card said:

Here are some flowers to celebrate our 1,025 days of marriage. It only feels like 1,023. I hope you have a wonderful day molding the minds of America’s youth. You’re my hero.
Love, Hubs

Seriously, how great is he?!? If I have to go through infertility and a childless life, I’m grateful to have my guy by my side.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ever Elusive Stage of Acceptance (no, I'm not there)

My therapist has been talking a lot lately about how going through infertility is a grieving process. I get that, and I've read about it on lots of other IF blogs. It's weird to be grieving something I never had, but here I am, definitely grieving, definitely cycling through those stages of grief again and again.

Of the five stages, I vacillate frequently between Denial, Anger and Depression, with an occasional stop at the Bargaining Station. Acceptance seems like a distant glimmer. Haven't been there yet, not even for a minute. My favorite is Denial, where there still lives some hope and I can blissfully forget that my ovaries suck. Bargaining hosts some hope too, but I find myself easing out of that stage more quickly than the others. I make regular stops at Anger and Depression. But really, who with IF doesn't?

The elusive "Acceptance" Stage seems way out of reach. And here's where I think the grieving process must be different than grieving a death. Death is final. You know when someone dies, that's it. Close the book. Roll the credits. It is OVER. With infertility, however, it's so open-ended. How can I ever finish grieving the possibility of my own biological child if that possibility isn't completely 100% dead?  My chances of getting pregnant are small, but they're not zero. I can "accept" that my journey is shit and it's not easy, but when do I "accept" the rest of it? Will I EVER accept it?

I don't think I'll ever get to acceptance as long as I equate acceptance with "giving up" (on my ovaries).   To me, they are one and the same. I'm not ready to move on to Donor Eggs until I accept that I won't have children with my own eggs. What's the line? How do you come to that decision? I'd love to hear from ladies out there who have decided on donor eggs - when did you know you were ready? And also, ladies who waited it out and got their BFP or who continue to wait... how long did you / will you wait?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Welcome August ICLW!

Welcome ICLW peeps!

Sidenote: At first I typed "Welcome ICLW poops" and had a good chuckle.

My story, in brief: I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure in November 2011 and have been TTC for about 14 months. Prognosis: Not so good. We tried a few rounds of stims in the winter / spring (letrozole, menopur) and had no follicles at all. Currently taking daily hormone replacement therapy to manage symptoms (i.e. hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, possible bone loss) and trying to figure out what to do next, while also trying to keep develop for the first time a healthy way of dealing with the grief of IF.

Was this the longest week ever or was that just me? I feel just like my cat Henry does in this picture: 

Is there anything cuter than this little guy?
I've been super irritable lately at work. The Physical Facilities lady who cleans my building came by yesterday to tell me she got a stain out of the wallpaper and it literally took twenty minutes. I tried to think how she must be lonely and not have many people to talk to or be mentally stimulated during her job, but all I could think was "Stop talking. Please stop.  Stop it now. Shut. the. *@#$. up." I mean, I could feel my blood pressure rising. This is only one instance of too many to type.

This can't continue, because come August 20, my job will include at least six hours a day of daily conversing with college students. Mostly listening, because they haven't learned appropriate turn-taking skills in conversation yet, which is fine because I am not likely to spill any personal details about my life to them. I can imagine, however, that being irritated for that many hours a day might take a toll on my enjoyment of a day's work.

I used to LOVE my job. But the past year of infertility has shifted something inside of me. I don't find joy in lots of things I used to. It doesn't help that I spent four months of this year in a total brain fog. I look back on December through March as "lost time." Truly, my head was not in the game of life. It went way beyond being a little forgetful and absent-minded. I remember telling my husband that I didn't feel like I was experiencing anything in the moment. It was like I was removed from the present. Okay, it's obviously hard to explain. But I was so worried this year about not screwing up basic tasks at work that I think I forgot how to be excited or passionate about it. And though the daily HRT has helped IMMENSELY with the brain fog since March, I haven't been able to recapture that spark I used to have with the job.

I'm a little encouraged because Hubs and I have a back up plan to move far far away next summer if we're still not knocked up. So in a year, I'll either be pregnant or at least looking to find a new job and new city. There's some promise there.

Enough about me. If you're just stopping by from ICWL, introduce yourself! How adorbs is my cat? Is anyone else feeling blah and irritable lately?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Suck a Little Less

Good news: I'm NOT going to the baseball game this weekend after all!

However, it had less to do with me standing up for what I want and more to do with the tickets being really expensive and my MIL deciding not to go after all. Yay me!

In other news, while I am not participating in Belle's seven day detox like many other bloggers out there, I am doing very well in my own "two-week cleanse" which involves a total elimination of alcohol and caffeine. I'm on day four and zero sips of alcohol or caffeine. Woot!  However, the cleanse did nothing to stop me from mindlessly devouring two handfuls of m&ms while blog reading today. Must. Stop. Doing that.

ALSO, and this really is good news: I just booked a trip to Mexico with two of my best girlfriends for September! I would love to go with Hubs but he doesn't have the vacation time to do any more trips this year. I have a TON saved up, even after my trip to Florida last month. And I am going to need something to get me through the hell that is August and September at work (busiest time of the year for me). So we're headed to an all-inclusive resort for six days and we got a great deal that included flight, transportation to the hotel and the resort itself! 

My only baby-making news is that I heard back from the billing office at my RE's (remember the coding mess?). They said they weren't going to change any of the codes to my diagnosis for those bills because they were trying to induce ovulation. Wouldn't it be nice if you only had to pay for those kinds of things if they worked? Because it certainly did not work for me. So they are re-issuing the bills and I will just have to pay them. Bummer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Suck

Operation Do-What-I-Want is not going well.

I'm going to the baseball game on Saturday. I don't know how this happened.

Okay, yes I do. It went from a boys' night out game (Hubs' dad, uncles, and two male cousins are coming in town) to now adding Hubs' mom and her friend. Not going = antisocial.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Therapy Lesson #2: Do what YOU WANT to do

My weekend was exhausting. After a massive event at work on Friday that required me to be "on" for 10 hours straight, I spent the evening at a baseball game with my sis and BIL (which is okay... but am I alone in thinking nine innings for a ball game is just insanely too long?). Pretended to enjoy it. Got home at midnight; faceplanted into bed. Saturday we went to Indy for my niece's third birthday party. There were a dozen babies/small children there and at least three gals pregnant. Pretended to enjoy it (okay, some parts were okay). Faceplanted into bed. Sunday we spent time with family in Indy then drove back for yet another baseball game (I am past my limit for the summer), this time with some old friends from college. Pretended to enjoy it. Got home late. Faceplanted into bed. 

I was telling my therapist about my weekend today and she wondered why I went to so many ball games if I don't enjoy them.*

Here is something about me: I am a people-pleaser. To the MAX. I realized about a year ago that I sometimes care so much (too much) about other people's opinions that I can't even identify my own opinions. This drives my husband crazy. "Do you want to go to that concert next weekend?" Um, what do you want to do? "Where do you feel like going to eat?" I dunno, what are you hungry for? "Should we buy these window blinds?" What do you think? And look, that's not just me saying those things for my health - I really don't have an identifiable opinion and will always defer to the other person if it seems like s/he does.

I've been working on this over the past year or so. But it doesn't change the fact that I consistently and continuously put others' needs in front of my own. Only in my case, we can replace "needs" with "slightest preference." So when this weekend came up and we had two ballgames and a three-year old birthday party on the docket, I was internally dreading each part of it. But I said "yeah, sure!" and went right along with it. I made it my mission to just get through the weekend. Which sucks, by the way, because it's not like Monday morning at work is anything to look forward to. 

So I explained this, in so many words, to my therapist today. I added that I'm dreading next weekend too, because there is another baseball game planned. And, with some urging from my therapist, I am going to turn  down the game. Look, I have nothing against baseball. It's all good and fine. But I don't want to go and have to pretend to enjoy myself for three hours. So... get this... I'm NOT GOING TO GO <<gasp>>!!

That's what I'm working on these days. I'm going to give myself permission to do what I want to do. In moderation. My depression would have me watching Breaking Bad on Netflix all day everyday, but I'm not going to hole myself up and become a hermit. However, I can say no if I'm really just not up to it. 

It's kind of third-grader-esque that I have to work on this. But it really doesn't come naturally and I am learning how to do it. What about you guys? Learning anything new from therapy lately? Feel like you missed the boat in learning the basics to being a well-adjusted human being? Is anyone else a people pleaser to a fault?

*PS. I don't hate baseball. The games are just really long and it's really hot outside and I was tired. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Road to Nowhere

Premature Ovarian Failure doesn't leave much in the way of "options," making it difficult to blog regularly about a "journey."

So here's what I'm doing: Waiting. Waiting some more. Having cross-your-fingers-that-was-the-good-kind-of-cervical-mucus-even-though-it's-day-39-of-my-cycle sex. Cry over BFN. Occasionally get a period. Wait some more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm staring into a long, dusty, abandoned road to nowhere. There is no scenery. No side trips. No end in sight. I can't floor the gas pedal and go any faster. I can't even blow my savings getting my car souped up. I could change the destination, but I don't want to go anywhere else. Not yet anyway.

I feel very much in limbo right now. There are no last resort IUIs or IVFs (or first resort IUIs or IVFs) on the horizon. No ovary stimulating fertility meds. No fresh or frozen embryos to work with. There MIGHT be a few lonely eggs decaying and rolling around my barren desert of an ovary. Therein lies the sliver of hope and also the cruelty of POF. It's the reason we're not ready to detour to adoption or donor eggs. It's the reason we might NEVER be ready for adoption or donor eggs. When do we give up on my ovaries? What if there's one lonely fighter, just biding its time, waiting for the right moment?

Research indicates that gals with POF have a 5-10% chance of conceiving naturally. With no intervention. However, they have no clue what distinguishes the ladies who conceive from the ladies who never conceive, which is more than a little inconvenient. But they're working on it (see reference here).

So we wait. We wait for our soldier egg. And we keep waiting. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drunken Asshattery

Q: So Jen, let's talk about your Fourth of July holiday last week. What'd you do?
A: Well, since nobody in the family or any of our friends were doing anything, we decided last-minute to host a cookout at our house, with cornhole in the backyard and a kiddie pool on the deck. 

Q: It was pretty hot out, no?
A: Pretty effin' hot. It was a scorcher. 

Q: Did you hydrate yourself with an exorbitant amount of beer and margaritas? 
A: Why yes, I did do that. I got quite tipsy, actually. 

Q: Tipsy?
A: Okay, you got me. I was feeling no pain. 

Q: And tell me, was your sister-in-law there? The one you're so worried about getting pregnant?
A: Erm... yes. 

Q: Did you drunkenly behave passive aggressively around her, maybe commenting a little biznatchy-like about her only drinking water or juice? 
A: ....maybe a couple of times....

Q: And after she and your brother left the party, did you spend the next hour having a complete sob-fest with your mom and two single friends? 
A: That may have happened. 

Q: Tell me, Jen. How terrible did you feel the next day when your brother called to tell you how you had hurt his wife's feelings? 
A: I have to say, it was not good. Not good one bit. I felt pretty embarrassed. And sorry. And ashamed of myself for losing control and being a biznatch. 


So. That happened. 

I really felt AWFUL for how I treated my SIL and also EXTREMELY EMBARRASSED. Ugh. I hate that feeling after a long night of drinking when you wake up and you're like, "Oh shit. What did I do?" It's a sinking feeling of dread and there is no cure for it, except to apologize and beg for forgiveness. 

So I e-mailed my SIL and apologized profusely and begged for forgiveness. I told her that infertility sucks, but I should never have been rude and taken out my frustrations on her. I also explained that I have perhaps been distancing myself from her and my brother for the past few months, kind of bracing myself for when the news comes. I tried to explain that I WILL BE HAPPY FOR THEM. (And I really will). But that it will also suck and be really hard for me. 

She wrote back a very gracious e-mail accepting my apology and saying that she has wanted to be there for me for the past few months and just hasn't known how. She has started several long e-mails trying to comfort me but never got up the nerve. 

A few e-mails back and forth between the two of us later, and I think we're in a much better place than we were before the drunken debauchery of last week. It feels like there will be a little bit less of an elephant in the room around her and my brother from here out. 

And my brother informed me that they're not pregnant. They're not even trying right now, although they will at some point. And he said he'd give me a heads up so I can prepare myself. 

IF is shitty, but I'm lucky to have people around who will forgive me when I'm a total asshat and who will do what they can to support me. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Therapy #1: "TELL People How to be Supportive"

Well I went to my first therapy session last night. Ever. Of my whole life. I totally expected to go in and immediately start sobbing and try to choke out occasional words and/or phrases between hiccups and nose blowing.

It didn't go exactly like that. There were tears, but I held it together for the most part. My voice was a little higher-pitched than usual because I was restraining tears, but it was not an hour-long sob fest like I expected. I consider that a small victory. Especially because telling my story for the first time to someone (anyone) is always more emotional for me than talking about it to people who are already familiar with it.

I really liked my lady. She was EXACTLY how I imagined a modern-day therapist - very kind-looking, soothing, gentle voice, and glasses. I told her why I was there - difficulty coping with infertility, feeling depressed, stressed, etc - and what's going on with my condition (she didn't know much about Premature Ovarian Failure). And she asked me about how I've tried to cope and who my support system was and that kind of thing. I realized I have tried a LOT of avenues in my coping. I've joined an infertility support group. I've done extensive research and built a solid foundation of knowledge. I've thrown myself into my running and ran a marathon. I started this blog. I've told friends and family about my condition and expanded my support group. I've distracted myself with reading. And I've created a tentative back up plan if Hubs and I don't get knocked up in the next year.

But I've still been SO DOWN at times. Not all the time, but way more than I'm comfortable with. So I told her that.

And she got from me that I use people for support quite a bit, which is good, except that sometimes people don't know how to be supportive. Sometimes they say the absolute wrong thing (see examples here and here). Sometimes they don't want to "remind me" that I'm infertile, so they avoid the subject at all costs. And she said it's  up to me to educate people on how to support me and Hubs through this whole ordeal. My homework for next week is to make a list of ways people can be supportive, of things that have helped me so far and things I think will be helpful in the future.

So I'm asking for a little help here, because my brain only works so well on the day before a holiday. Here's my list of ways friends and family have helped so far:

1.Checking in on me every few weeks. I don't want to talk about it every time I'm with you, but it feels weird to NEVER talk about it. It's nice to just ask "So how has the fertility stuff been going?" in a comfortable, private setting. Asking doesn't "remind" me. Trust me, I'm already thinking about it.

2.Listening. Sometimes I just need to vent. The only thing you need to say is "that SUCKS." You don't need to offer advice, or tell me how you JUST KNOW I'll be a mother (because no. You don't.), or tell me about your sister's friend's cousin who tried for YEARS and then gave up and then had a dozen babies.

3. Thinking about me. Praying for me is good too, but it's even more helpful for me to know you've thought about me. I have one friend who's so good about this - she's sent me a couple of cards, completely out of the blue, saying stuff like "hang in there" and "I'm thinking about you" that happened to come at times when I was feeling really down. They cheered me up a little. And my aunt gave me a St. Girard charm and a prayer book. A friend gave me an "Expect a Miracle" necklace. Another aunt brought over a St. Girard statue. Another aunt (sheesh, I have some supportive aunts!) mailed me a book about thyroid issues. These tokens are very meaningful, and they let me know that people are thinking about us even when we're not talking about it.

4. Leaving "God's Plan" out of it. I like to think of my situation as just stupid shitty luck and not a plot by the man upstairs, trying to teach me a lesson or make me stronger or whatever. If this is God's plan, I am not down with it. It also implies that God could change my condition and just has decided not to. Maybe that's true, but I don't need to hear it as it just pisses me off.

5. Understanding that I am going through a hard time. I am having lots of conflicting emotions. I will be happy for you during baby showers and kids' birthday parties, but I will also feel a smidgeon of jealousy and resentment and sadness for myself. Sometimes more than a smidgeon. Being around pregnant people and babies/kids is hard. It helps if you don't complain TO ME about your babies/kids/ pregnancy symptoms. Because that really sucks. And be sensitive about announcing pregnancies! A private phone call is best for me.

So those are the things I've come up with so far. Now I'm supposed to remember these and be able to talk to friends and family about how I need to be supported (if I feel I need to). How have people been supportive to you? Do you have anything to add to my list? I'm sure I'm missing some stuff!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Back from Vacation

Just got back yesterday from a week full of in-laws, beach, and booze. The week started like this:

(That's not our van, just a random one.)

Yes, Tropical Storm Debby hung out in the Gulf of Mexico for a few days, just circling and pelting us with gobs of rain and huge winds. So the first few days of the vacation were spent just trying to kill time and not blow away. We played Euchre, went to a museum in the next county (to see Snooty the Manatee, the oldest manatee in the world!), and ordered in pizza.

Even when the storm cleared up by Tuesday (we got there Saturday), the ocean was NOT SAFE:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the waves were HUGE and really strong. I know, because Hubs and I went in up to our shins and got knocked around like we were paper dolls. I skinned my knee and thigh, although he came out unscathed.

By Wednesday, though, the weather was picture perfect. Here are my highlights from the week:

  • Laying on the beach with my Kindle in one hand and a drink in the other
  • Floating in the ocean with my sister in law, having stupid conversation and bonding over our fear of ... well, everything that lives in the ocean
  • Walking a mile through Tropical Storm Debby (in water up to my knees, at some points) to get to a bar
  • Getting drinks at the various on-the-beach bar/restaurants
  • Playing Euchre with the fam
  • Going to Island Yoga with my two sisters-in-law
  • Family Dinners (each couple took a turn making dinner for everyone)
  • Going to a Wine Tasting with Hubs and meeting some really amazing locals
  • A Dolphin sight-seeing cruise with the whole family (we saw lots of dolphins!)
  • Watching the first eight episodes of "Girls" on my SIL's laptop. Has anyone seen that show? SO GOOD!
  • Not working all week. I could really get used to that. 
Those are just the highlights. It really was a fun trip and I'm glad I got to go. Especially because Hubs' parents paid for the whole thing! For all of us!

There were, of course, some lowlights too, as I expected there would be. Spending the whole week with my husband's three year old niece was a delight and it was also incredibly difficult. She is adorable and she basically worships the ground my husband walks on. And he is SO. DAMN. GOOD WITH HER. He really will make a wonderful father some day. And that's what was the toughest - seeing Hubs with his niece just ripped my heart to shreds at some points. I'm so sad I can't give him that. So there were a few times when I just had to escape - I absolutely had to go for a long run or hole myself up for an hour or walk on the beach alone and have a good cry. It's tough being around your in-laws for that long anyway. As much as I love my in-laws (and I really do. I hit the jackpot when it come to in-laws), I can't really "let go" like I would around my family. 

But there's good news - I am seeing a therapist tomorrow for the first time! I'm a little bummed that it happens to fall tomorrow night, because I might miss my support group (Sorry Bea!). My appointment's at 5:30 pm, I'll try to make it afterwards but I would be late if I make it.  

And now, a picture of happiness: