Monday, November 22, 2010

Email to My In-Laws: Preparing for Our Visit

I'm sending this today to my in-laws. Warning: it's very long but felt so, so good to write and was a letter about a year-long in the making:

Dear In-Laws [insert names here],

I wanted to personally write in anticipation of the holiday and our time together, and to let you know what's been going on with us, and in particular how it's affected me mostly and how I feel you can help. I apologize in advance for the length but it's been something I've been drafting in my head for awhile now, so please bear with me! I decided to write this because I realize that what B and I are going through is not an easy thing for us to process, and much harder sometimes for loved ones to process. And by writing, I think it may allow you time and space to actually process this without having us bombard you with this without you knowing how to react.

Infertility is not often something people know much about and because it still seems rather taboo, people aren't sure how to ask or talk about it. I hope I can shed light on some of this. If you weren't sure, this is how infertility is defined if under 35: trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 1 year or if the woman has had several miscarriages.

We've been trying to conceive for almost 3 years now. The enormity of this 3 year milestone has been an incredible one for me. On top of that, this Thanksgiving will mark one year that we experienced our first miscarriage. And it's been hard for me to face that my best friend is about to have her 2nd baby in Dec, when I thought we were going to be on similar paths. Or that our nephew just turned 3 and I thought our children would be closer in age to him.

Infertility can be a continual grieving process. Each passing month is a grief in in of itself. It's a grief that isn't named and isn't obvious to others, with no rituals, making it difficult to navigate the emotions around it. Someone recently shared with me an excerpt from Laura Bush's biography that was helpful to me:

For some years now, the wedding invitations that had once crowded the mailbox had been replaced by shower invites and pink-or-blue-beribboned baby announcements. I bought onesies or rattles, wrapped them in yellow paper, and delivered them to friends. I had done it with a happy wistfulness, believing that someday my time, my baby, would come. George and I had hoped that I would be pregnant by the end of his congressional run. Then we hoped it would be by the time his own father announced his presidential run, then by the presidential primaries, the convention, the general election. But each milestone came and went. The calendar advanced, and there was no baby.

The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.”

But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives.

Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?- Laura Bush

I think you know that we had another miscarriage in May followed by my fibroid surgery in August, which they thought might have been the cause. We actually just experienced another miscarriage late last week, though this time, we were able to conceive naturally, which felt like a small victory. Still, we've never been able to make it past the 6 week mark when you can usually hear a heartbeat. And twice I've had to actually get a shot to dissolve the pregnancy because it was developing abnormally, they think in my tubes - that's what happened last Thanksgiving and that is what happened this past Friday.

I say all of this for a couple of reasons:
  1. I haven't felt like "me" for awhile now. You may have noticed (especially [FIL’s name here] who emails the most) that I've been pretty silent and unresponsive. I've been very sad. I haven't been to be aloof or unloving; I just haven't been 'me'. I've had a hard time returning phone calls or reaching out to others or even going to church. I've been getting help. I'm seeing a counselor who specializes in infertility and I've been attending a support group. I've also found an online community and have met some amazing people from around the world who have become my friends, all of whom are going through similar experiences.
  2. I've had mixed emotions about Thanksgiving. It's been very hard for me to go on about my life 'as normal', let alone as a celebration and occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas can actually accentuate my sadness. I'm not sure how I will react this week, but if I can't really laugh or if I'm spending more time than normal in my room or have gone for a run, it's because sadness has hit me and I need to retreat or outlet.
  3. I've asked B if we can skip the 'what we're thankful for' at Thanksgiving this year. It can be hard for me sometimes to feel even sadder that I have trouble seeing past this one thing that we don't have yet, even among our many, many blessings. I have a hard time when all I covet from my neighbor are their children! So, I hope you're ok if we skip this part of Thanksgiving this year.
I also want you to know that this is how you can best help me:
  • I need love, support & empathy most of all - things like - I'm sorry you're going through this, this must be hard for you, is there anything you need right now, I love you - those are all helpful things to say - most of all listening and caring.
  • I'm ok talking about it, in fact, it feels like an elephant in the room if loved ones aren't asking me about how I'm feeling. It can make me feel even more alone when I'm not asked. I may get sad talking about it, and that's ok. I'm ok with crying as long as you are. Or I may actually feel in control. But I do appreciate being asked.
  • I need distractions too! I'm looking forward to playing games - App.les to App.les? :) or watching a movie together or things like that
  • Hugs & prayers feel good too
I actually do think I'm doing better. The last couple of months were especially hard with the upcoming milestones and holidays but last week, I resolved myself to get back to "me" and to try to live life again the way we are intended to - with joy & gusto. So far so good since my resolve on Thurs but I know that the grief of infertility is always lurking somewhere nearby and I never know when it will hit.

All this said, B has handled this much differently than I have. He's much more patient, trusting that our time will happen with proper care & help in whatever way that is meant to be for us. I worry more sometimes about how he has to deal with me! But I'll let him talk about this.

Thank you so much for reading this & understanding. I know you must be going through your own thoughts and whirlwind around this, particularly as hopeful future grandparents and of course, as people who love us.

We really look forward to your visit and being able to share the love we all have for each other!


Friday, November 19, 2010

And... It Wasn't Good

My bloodwork results from yesterday were only at 154 (from 107 on Tues) and it turns out my obgyn's office had specialists look at my ultrasound and they did find a 1cm mass at the entrance of my tube.

So, metho.trexate it was.

What are the odds of that happening to 1 person twice? And almost a year to the day. Incredible. We've had 3 chemical pregnancies now ending in the 5th week, only one was a natural miscarriage.

I'm sure we'll have follow up tests and such. I'm eager to try to figure out why this may be happening. It just doesn't seem like it should.

Anyway, my positivity from yesterday is still coming through. I'm largely feeling unaffected by this (maybe it's just denial...) but maybe I'm also past my big grieving period. Maybe I'm finally ready to grab life by its collar again and really live, the way I know we're supposed to, which is to say by really enjoying it.

So, I continue to be resolved & determined to try to find happiness (despite all of this). I want to be back! And I will be.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Not Looking Good

My ultrasound & sonogram showed nothing today. They couldn't find anything. They did bloodwork and I told them could they please not wait until 5pm tomorrow to call me. They said they'd try. I really wish I was back at my RE and not at this obgyn.

Anyway, they said I'd likely have to repeat an ultrasound on Monday and I'm pretty sure we'll have to do methotrextate (sp?) next week. I just hope that my levels actually start decreasing so that I don't have to do that.

The irony. Almost 1 year to the day where we went through the same thing. At Thanksgiving.

We got pregnant on our own this time but now I'm hesitant to put more money into treatments if I can't ever make it to week 6. There's one more test my new RE wanted to do. I guess we'll do that when this is all over.

I feel kinda numb but I think I also want to be resolved to handle this better. I had told my husband that this unbearable feeling lately has given me insight into why people contemplate ending their lives. Not that I'm near that point AT ALL but I could just see it. He wanted to know if he wasn't enough. And I had a hard time with that because, in a way, no - because I really can't imagine us without a family. And on the other hand, if the tables were turned, I would want to feel like I'd be enough for him to never contemplate something like that... (and please don't worry - I'm really not contemplating anything).

So after our big conversation around it, I'm even more determined to try to get back to ME and handle this better. All I need is peace and resolve. I can do this!

Not in a Great Place

This week has been a bit of agony for me. I am not used to not getting the level of care I had been getting with our RE and in retrospect, I should have just called them first rather than my obgyn. They don't call me until 5pm with results!!! Who does that???

So, I tested Friday & then spotted all weekend. Called Monday to say I think I needed to be retested. They said wait for the results. Ok - 5pm they say tell me 61 & to re-test Tuesday. Got those results at 5pm last night - 107. (I'm more used to a 5 hour turnaround, not 28 hour turnaround!!).

Anyway, it should have been around 240. So, less than half of what it's supposed to be. The irony is that I stopped spotting yesterday.

They're having me repeat bloodwork today - though I guess I won't get the results till 5pm Friday - ARGH!!!!! I'm also doing a sonogram today at 1pm. I'm worried it's either miscarrying or ectopic. Maybe it's just a really slow grower...

Think peaceful thoughts for me today, please.

I also had a hard time seeing the gift that my sister-in-law's gave to her sister in law on facebook - new onesies.

The thing I want most of all is just to be ME again. To be happy & chipper and not bitter. I don't know who this person is who has overtaken my body.

On a happy note, being in HR, I got my office to play App.les to App.les yesterday (and we even had apples & peanut butter as a snack!) & people LOVED it. (If you haven't played it, it's the MOST fun game ever - and a great family game if you're anxious of too much sitting around with your family over Thanksgiving!). I was very pleased that our office enjoyed it since that is my favorite game & because most of them hadn't heard of it before! And it let me forget about my problems for a little while...

Monday, November 15, 2010

All Over the Place

Go figure that after I posted that my home test was negative last week, I was late. I tested again on Friday morning this time and was 'a little pregnant', meaning only faint line on the test.

Because of our history, I called my normal obgyn who had me come in for bloodwork Friday. I still don't have those results.

I spotted a bit both weekend days. It felt like every 4 hours or so, I was either up or down depending on whether there was spotting or absolutely nothing. This morning, more spotting than over the weekend. Called my doc again, they're going to call me back.

This is so nerve-wrecking. I hate this in between stuff. I hate the hopeful/reality yo-yo. It's driving me crazy.

As my husband said, 'even though we were taught in high school that there's no such thing as being a little pregnant, it sure does feel that way now'. Definitely.

So both good & bad... kinda small victory feeling we could do this on our own finally but I also won't rest easy (easier) till the 6 week mark. We have yet to ever hear a heartbeat and I just don't know if I can have much hope for this.

Please don't say 'congrats' or anything just yet. That's part of the reason I haven't said anything yet. I really do feel like this could slip at any moment. I just need support.  I need to be more than 'a little pregnant' before the congrats can roll in... you know, the delicate balance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It Pisses Me Off

I just took a test and it's negative. Quelle surprise! What else is new? The thing is, I haven't taken a home test in a verrrrrrrrry long time. Found them pointless. But for some stuuuuupid reason, I decided to be extra hopeful this month.

Grrrrrr. It just REALLY angers me. Why? Why can't I just be normal? Just once?

And better yet, since I'm clearly not, then why can't I handle this better? Why can't I be one of those people who really seek to make this situation better, or accept it, or make the most of it, or see the blessings that could come of it?

My husband was saying the other day that he thinks we've gotten closer as a result of all of this. Maybe. Maybe not. I'd like to think that we'd be closer in a totally different way if we hadn't gone through any of this. And I can't think that my friends who conceived naturally are not closer to their hubands. And I'm just not ready to see the silver lining yet in this.

And part of it is that I'd like for our silver lining to be adoption. I really do. I'm sick of my (failing) body. I'm sick of monitoring. I'm sick of timing sex (especially when we really don't want to). I'm sick of being anxious for 2 weeks. I'm sick of being hopeful. I'm sick of negative tests. I'm sick of doctors appointments. I'm sick of drugs. I'm just sick of it all.

I want a different silver lining. But my husband isn't there on that. So, I feel totally stuck. And this impasse is almost more painful than our infertility. Do I just 'give in' and do all the doctors appointments, more drugs, more everything? Why can't he see this beautiful thing that can be for us - a different silver lining?

I'm also sick of being angry. And sad. And withdrawn. I just want to be me again.

A Glimpse of Normal

I got a glimpse yesterday of what it might be like to conceive normally, the way we were meant to. My thought was that maybe my fibroid surgery allowed us to be able to conceive this way. So, yesterday I decided that I would go about my day thinking that I was pregnant. And it was amazing. Truly amazing.

I'm supposed to get my period today and of course I've been doing all the neurotic things we do by checking out every possible thing that is going on with my body. So far, no signs -- except this pimple on my forehead.

I even tried taking an early pregnancy test last night and... it was defective!

Anyway, the amazing thing was that I allowed myself to think I was pregnant yesterday, and it was oh, so good.

I couldn't get over how over the moon I was that it could be that simple. Monitor your cycle, have sex a couple of times during opportune moments and bam - pregnant.

Wouldn't that be amazing? No drugs, no drama, no crazy person living within my body. I felt this cloud lift over me - like I was ME again! It made me smile all day.

How unfair that we don't really get to feel that way, huh? And that others take it for granted?

So, while it was nice living in la-la land yesterday, I have no idea what today holds, or what tomorrow and next month and the month after hold for that matter.

But how amazing to have felt that for just 1 day...

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Talk with Dear Ol' Dad About Mom

As many of you know, I continue to have a hard time figuring out how to deal with my mother in this whole process. So, I decided to call on my dad for some expertise.

He's hard to talk to - mostly because he works in cube-land and can't talk easily at work and my mom is always around at home, so can't talk with him there. I decided to call him at work anyway last week to talk about this pain I feel about my mom.

I told him how she and I have always had a close relationship and that now, with her constant unwanted advice - even though I tell her repeatedly that unwanted advice isn't helpful - I don't even want to spend time with her anymore. It's gotten to that point.

I feel like in a way, I've lost my mom.

He says that she hasn't changed. That she's always been this way - giving unsolicited advice and, at times, not being sensitive about it.

And I know I've changed. I know I'm now hyper-sensitive about anything anyone says.

I don't know where to go from here, though. Just accepting that our relationship has changed? That it's ok to not talk with her about this stuff anymore? Dad says she comes at all of this with a loving heart for me, and I know that... but practically, she's not listening to me about what I most need from her - her listening ear and her empathy. And until she can get that, which I'm beginning to think will be never, then I simply can't talk with her about infertility anymore. It's too painful. And more than that, it really angers me. And I have enough to deal with without being angry about her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Determined Joy of Meeting (a Blog Friend)!

I have been excited for about 2-3 months knowing that my friend from Determined to Have Joy was going to be in my area for work!

We clicked almost instantaneously last winter via our blogs and began emailing each other on the side. So, when she told me she was coming to DC, I got a bit nervous. I'd wondered if I should even suggest meeting in person, contemplating that sometimes an online relationship needs to stay online... That maybe this amazing relationship we've developed would fizzle once we actually met in person.

But, no!

Last night, I met her in person and it exceeded my expectations! We had so much fun and talked 'deep stuff' too!

How amazing that we can find friends online who know some of our deepest emotions that we don't really share with others, or who others in our 'real life' just don't seem to get as much!! What a true joy!

She's currently on a hiatus from blogging but I hope she'll be back, not just in blog-land but in DC too! :)

(Pretty fitting for me (given my reluctance to 'come out') that our pic came out blurry)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Bit of a Silence

I've been pretty silent lately and was not a good ICLW participant. I feel badly that I've been neglecting my dear friends in blogland. But I've also needed this introspection time.

The last couple of weeks were difficult. I was still dealing with a lot of sadness and grieving important milestones of 'could have been's'.  I think I'm better, but each time I say that, I relapse.

What's going on this time? My last counseling session indicated that I'm now grieving the loss of the relationship that my mother and I had. That ever since this world of infertility I've been thrown into, our relationship has changed. And most signficantly, it changed this past spring as I was experiencing our second miscarriage in which I felt she blamed me for things I either did or didn't do. I'm still resentful of that.

And as a result, I'm processing it and have distanced myself from her - the person I thought I could always go to for everything, who was my comfort. Yet, she hasn't known how to comfort me in this trying time.

Just last week, after months of not talking about it, I re-opened up to her. I had told her again that I don't want advice and all I need is empathy. The conversation started out ok. She was offering me (albeit extremely awkwardly and forced) what I needed to hear - "I'm sorry you're going through this and that it's difficult for you". And then she did it: she offered me advice that I didn't want, telling me that I just need to accept my situation, that I'd be better able to move on if I just accepted it.

All that advice after I had also just told her that my counselor says this is different. That it's hard to just accept something when there isn't a finality to it yet.

I honestly don't remember what I said next but remember trying to just get off the phone because I just didn't want to hear it.

We're likely going to have to have another conversation about this but it just zaps my energy and therefore creates distance and makes me feel all the more that I've lost my mom - the mom I used to have. The mom who used to be able to comfort me.

I'm still grieving, not just for lost baby milestones but for my mother who can't comfort me the way she used to.