Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Inspiration...or maybe not

What seems impossible is not. Remember when your brother gave you his Rubik's cube with all the colors mixed, and you worked relentlessly for months to solve it to prove, without a doubt, you were the smartest one in the family? Were you really the smartest or the most tenacious? Pregnancy is the same way - it requires persistence. You just have to keep at it, twisting and turning and hoping that one month all the colors will align.
~ Conception Chronicles

There's only one problem...I've never actually managed to solve a Rubik's cube.

So my second cycle of Clomid appears to be a bust. At my cycle day 12 ultrasound, my largest follicle was 8 mm and my uterine lining was only 4 mm. The doctor is going to check me again on day 20 just to be sure, but he's not very hopeful and, frankly, neither am I. I guess this isn't the month when all my colors align. F*ck you, Rubik's cube.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nothing to lose

I left out a part from my previous post about the retirement dinner and now I think I'm ready to write about it.

As I drove home from the party, I was so determined to cry. The tears had been building and I just needed that release, like a full blown sob session. Only it wouldn't come. Just a few tears hovering on the surface. I was actually irritated that I couldn't cry. Like it was unfair. I had been at a fun event with others and couldn't keep it together. And now I'm by myself and I can't lose it.

As my drive continued, I put on some Indigo Girls to sing along to and tried that for a bit. Singing is really cathartic for me. Halfway through a first song, my head is usually clear and my mind at ease. But even the singing wouldn't bring me any comfort.

I was just in my head. Stuck there...thinking about my infertility...a million thoughts racing around but never getting anywhere that I needed them to be, settled somewhere in coherence. And to tell you the truth, looking back, I can't even remember the first half of what I was thinking on that drive home. It was so jumbled yet scattered and I just can't recall.

Suddenly, I said aloud, "What am I doing here?" My own voice startled me in the silence of the car. And who am I talking to? Is it God? I mean I do talk to Him a lot, but this time I just wasn't sure this question was intended for Him. But then why not? Shouldn't all of my questions be intended for Him? And seriously, what in the hell am I doing here??! Dealing with medication and doctor's visits and bloodwork and an IUI that probably won't work (not because I'm negative but because I've seen the statistics so I'm just being realistic) and then the possibility of having to deal with it not working. What on Earth am I doing here? How did I get to this place where I feel like a failure as a woman because I'm not conceiving quickly and a failure as a friend because I sometimes avoid them when I'm sad and a failure as a wife because I'm supposed to be able to start a family with ease and....just a failure. What am I doing here? How did I get here? And why am I here?

I've thought a lot about the fact that God has a plan for me. This usually brings me comfort in most situations, but for the last few days, it's just not. I want it to, but it's not. I can't come to any conclusion as to why I am dealing with this. Usually I can figure stuff out. Find a reason that I am comfortable with and then make peace with it, at least for the time being. But lately, there's no peace. Just this pinball bouncing around inside me...trying to find a quiet, gentle place to settle.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

3 strikes, I'm out!

I let infertility control my life again. I hate when I do that.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm almost done taking my 100 mg of Clomid. This is right around the time that my side effects started last cycle. Sure enough, last night the insomnia kicks in and today, I'm overly emotional and trying not to cry.

I went to a retirement dinner for two of my colleagues. It should've been a nice night for me to relax and enjoy myself with the other teachers.

Strike one: It's just been a long day. I worked, then tutored, then went straight to dinner and just throw the insomnia on top of that. I'm sleepy.

Strike two: I arrive early to ensure a good table with friends. My principal crashed our table...even when we told her it was full (she just took someone's spot!). My principal doesn't even like me! Why does she feel compelled to sit with me? Following the principal's lead, another administrator comes to steal a friend's spot at our table. This meal is going to feel like a day at work! Why don't you just make me come in on Saturday already?

Strike three: At the table in front of me, there is a veeeerrrrrrrry pregnant woman. Like, we may have to deliver her child on the dance floor pregnant. This means I will more than likely be fixated on her all night while contemplating my bitterness and extreme jealousy.

Three strikes, you're out the door. I should have just left. God was giving me clear signs to leave from the get go. Note to self: Next time, ignore peers and proper, social etiquette and instead listen to God. He is all-knowing, after all.

But I stay. I stay to stare at the pregnant woman, smile politely at my bosses and try not to nod off at the table. And then I start feeling like I'm going to cry again. Greeaat. I'm doing my best to suppress the tears and, big surprise, I end up needing to leave the table.

In the bathroom, I quickly compose myself. The verdict is good. My makeup is intact and I'm not splotchy. My game face back on, I head out to the table for round two.

As I sit back down, a woman I haven't seen in a while catches my attention. "Are you pregnant?" she asks. Night over. After saying my very quick goodbyes, I'm out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Infertility's shadow

So I teach 4th grade. They're hillarious, annoying and awesome all rolled into one. May is a big month in 4th grade as it is time for....The Puberty Talk! I love the day of the puberty talk. The kids come in so energized and nervous, whispering the word "puberty" excitedly, giggling, asking me if it will be gross. They all deny wanting to go but the truth is, they wouldn't miss this window into their teen years for the world.

Normally, I don't attend the talk. The girls are dropped off in the music room, the boys in the cafeteria and I go on my merry way. But this year, I wanted to see the girls' presentation. I was curious to see how much 9 and 10 year olds would be told. However, I wasn't so sure that my girls would want me there. As I walked through the packed halls first thing in the morning, three of my girls join me and, sure enough, start chatting eagerly about the impending talk. So I ask what they think of me going along and explain that I didn't know if it would be weird for them if their teacher would be there. And you know what they said? "We'd be more comfortable if you went with us!" I am touched. How could I say no to that? Then they ask me if I will sit next to them. I explain that the grownups usually sit in the back in chairs while the kids sit on the rug. They are adamant that I join them on the floor.

As I enter homeroom, my co-teacher tells me that one of my students, Beth, is upset because her mom had to back out of coming to the talk at the last minute. I pull Beth aside, tell her how sorry I am that her mom can't make it and that, while I know it's not the same as having her mom there, I will be going to the talk and maybe that will help a tiny bit. Beth looks me in the eye and responds, "You're almost my mom." I bite my cheeks to keep from crying. Fourth graders rock.

After completing attendance and the lunch order, we all head down to attend the big talk. I join my girls, as promised, Indian style on the floor. The air is buzzing with excitement. All the 4th grade eyes are on the nurse, waiting for the mysteries of womanhood to be unlocked before their eyes.

Nurse Jean starts off the discussion by going over the most basic changes girls go through during puberty. The kids giggle nervously when she says the word period and their eyes widen in horror at the mere mention of pubic hair. Nurse Jean rolls with it like the seasoned pro that she is. The lights are snapped off to watch the video, "Just Around the Corner". A bad actress in her 20s pretending to be a teenaged big sister to all of us starts explaining about the amazing changes we are all about to experience. I look around the room and find every girl in the room engrossed, hanging on every word of the I'm-so-not-seventeen-like-I'm-pretending-to-be actress. And I feel happy. Happy that I can share in this moment with my kids. Happy that I am a teacher. Happy to spend a year with my great group of girls.

Refocusing my attention back on the video, I discover a naked cartoon drawing of a girl on the TV screen. Seconds later, I stifle my laughter as the cartoon girl simply "sprouts" boobs and pubic hair. The kids all chuckle at the sight of this as I wonder if they all realize that their bodies won't change quite that quickly since that little tidbit is never exactly clarified.

The video goes on to explain that your period is important because it prepares your body to have a child later in life. It doesn't talk about sex per se but it does mention that a sperm fertilizes an egg, the egg becomes an embryo and implants in the uterus where it continues to grow. Minus all of the logistics. The video wrapps up with inspiring words about growing up over some spirited, instrumental music.

Lights back on and the girls burst into a tizzy of giggles and hushed comments. While they all look slightly traumatized, this is overshadowed by sheer excitement. Welcome to the big time, girls.

Nurse Jean asks if there are any questions. All talking ceases and is quickly replaced by the sound of crickets chirping. Nothing. She expertly waits it out, coaxing them with reminders that this is a safe place to ask her anything. She continues to wait. Finally, the bravest 4th grader of them all raises her hand to ask the first question: "What if you get it in school?" Nurse Jean deftly fields the question with the assistance of a maxi-pad the size of a 5 subject notebook. I gawk at it in horror. I realize that, at 30 years old, I've never experienced wearing the mountainous-maxi-of-the-school-nurse and don't ever want to. And I am aghast at the thought of 10 year olds trying to fit it properly on their tiny bodies without looking as though they have multiple rolls of toilet paper shoved in their pants.

"Any other questions?" With one heroic soul having broken the ice, multiple hands shoot into the air. I listen to questions about where to keep your supplies, how often to change a pad and going swimming.

"Do you have to get a period?" a desperate voice inquires from the back. From her tone, you can hear that she's hoping for some kind of out, a get out of period free card.

"Everybody gets a period. Everybody, every month, gets a period. You have to." Nurse Jean's voice is gentle yet matter-of-fact. The infertile lion in my head stirs slightly. The girls groan, causing Nurse Jean to repeat her statement. My lion yawns, stretches and then rears her ugly head with the following testy thought: You don't get a period every month. Because you're broken. Remember that time you had to take progesterone to get a period and even that didn't work? See? I told you. Broken.

I try to tame the angry voice, reminding it that I'm in the middle of sharing a special lesson in growing up with my girls, so go away. The lion shuts up, but continues glaring at me.

"How often do you get a period?" a student's voice chimes in. Nurse Jean explains that a cycle lasts 28-35 days and goes into an explanation of how to keep track of your cycles on a calendar. The lion smirks, arms crossed. Coughbullsh!tcough. Remember the 85 day cycle? Not now, lion. I am sharing a moment. A very precious moment that is not about me. It's about 9 and 10 year olds who have no idea what you speak of.

"Why do you have to get a period?" a voice querries from the back. This one just sounds annoyed and grossed out by the idea. Who can blame her? Nurse Jean reviews the portion of the video that talked about how your body is preparing for when you're married and want to have babies. My inner lion steps forward, smoothes her fur down, shoves me out of the way and launches into her tirade that, thankfully, is only for me to hear. Guess what? Ten percent of you will be f*cked when that time comes! That's right...ten percent. That's about ten of you girls in this room. You'll want to have a kid, you'll be ready for it, trying for it and nothing will happen! You'll have blown over $2,000 on completely unnecessary birth control throughout the years preventing something that's not going to happen without doctors, medications that turn you into a sobbing lunatic, track marks up your arms from all the bloodwork and losing your entire sense of privacy! Nice, lion. Real nice. The lion takes a dramatic bow and nestles in to go back to sleep....another special moment jaded by my infertility.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The few versus the many

So, if you're reading this, you probably already know that I'm a nestie because you probably clicked on my blog link in one of my posts to arrive here. I reached a milestone in my nestiness a few weeks ago...I attended my first Nest get together or GTG since acronymns amuse me.

Someone posted about the get together on the TTC 6+ Months board which is where I usually spend my time. First off, the GTG was at Panera's which is my favorite. I love their tuna fish sandwich. It's so good it should be called some other word that means something way better than food. I would attend a meeting about how to properly file taxes or how to identify amoebae if it meant I could eat at Panera's. Second, it's a get together! What fun!


A few days before the get together, I have a horrible thought. What if I'm the token infertile girl? This is followed up with other equally awful questions. What if there are pregnant people there? Like, really pregnant people? Who all got pregnant on their first try or, even worse, when they weren't (whispers) even trying? What if someone tells me I should "just relax" or "take a vacation" and I'll get knocked up? What if I am rude to a nestie who tells me to "just get drunk" and I'll end up pregnant? What if, after an insensitive comment, I end up using the swear words and storm out (resulting in a bad nestie reputation!)? What was initially very exciting is now causing me major anxiety. For the next few days, I proceed to completely freak out.

Saturday rolls around. I put on a cute outfit and even do my makeup extra nice so that at least I'll look good when someone insults my infertility which I am now fairly certain will happen. I think about chickening out, but the tuna sandwich's allure is too strong. I get in the car and head to Panera's, my stomach in knots the whole way.

I'm the first one to get there. I circle the joint. Nobody's an obvious choice for being a nestie. Back out the door to hang out.

A few minutes later, a nestie approaches. I just age-ish, alone, dressed cute, she's here for the GTG. We chat and wait for the other girls to arrive. Within a few minutes, all five of us are there.

After ordering, we spend a little time feeling each other out with casual chitchat. And of the girls mentions her RE! My ears perk, it is now impossible for me to be the token infertile. There's definitely at least two of us. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Within ten minutes, every girl there is talking about her infertility. Aaahhhhh! I'm dying from excitement! It's not that I find joy in my newfound friends' infertility struggles, it's just that I'm not alone. For the first time since this whole mess started, I'm sitting around, a group of five women, casually talking about our infertility. The feeling is something that I can't quite capture in words. It was beautiful. And it brought me so much comfort. A certain comfort that fertile women's words just can't provide me.

Couples go back and forth about who they should tell about their infertility. We struggle with privacy issues. It is afterall a pretty intimate topic. And we fear the insensitive comments that inevitably come, often from people who mean no harm and are just trying to help. I can't and don't want to tell anyone else how to deal with their infertility. I can only speak for myself. I never truly know how someone will react to my infertility until I tell them. People have and will continue to make stupid remarks about it. But, I will take the good with the bad. With the negative comments from a few has come love, support and sharing of stories from so many. Sometimes the people whose reactions most concern me are the very ones who surprise me with the most supportive comment. When I keep my infertility hidden, I inevitably feel an odd sense of shame, as though my unwillingness to throw it out in the open leads me to believe that I am a failure in some way. Infertility is one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced. As I walk this long, difficult journey, I want as many hands to hold along the way as possible.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


April 18th~ I went in for an CD 12 ultrasound to see if the Clomid was working. I had completed my first round of 50 mgs. The nurse calls me back into a room and chats with me about my side effects...a few hot flashes, some head rushes, a bit of teariness and a ton of imsomnia. Then she randomly says, "And are you going ahead with the artificial insemination?" in a very polite voice.

".....What?" is all I manage.

"Well, Dr. VanBabymaker suggested an artificial insemination. Are you going to go ahead with that?"

My brain quickly rewinds back a few days to my HSG. A different RE had done the procedure and had brought up artificial insemination. But....the way he had brought it up was more like, "Hey, do you think we should get pizza for lunch?" He said it so casually that I hadn't really given it much it was a possibility for further down the road but nothing more. Also, I'm still worried about step one. Did I ovulate? I haven't even really thought about a possible step two.

I explain to the nurse that mentally I haven't really gotten that far and just want to see if I'm even going to ovulate and then I'll talk with the doctor about artificial insemination.

My regular RE, Dr. PacMan comes in, performs the ultrasound and no ovulation. Disappointing, but not that surprising for only the first round of Clomid. One ovary has no follies. The other one has about 20 (!!) but they're all very small. He says to come back on CD 17 and we'll check again. Dr. PacMan asks about the artificial insemination. I want to say yes, I'm in, but I'm hesitant because I have to talk with my husband about this first. I mean, right? I'm not supposed to just decide that on my own, especially when my husband has to do his thing for the procedure. I tell them probably and that I'll let them know as soon as I talk with my husband.

Fast forward to April 23rd and my CD 17 ultrasound. Eight in the morning and I'm sitting in the waiting room. First off, I am hungry. I realized yesterday that we still hadn't done some insulin test that my doctor had wanted during my first consult. He couldn't do it back then because I hadn't fasted. I spoke with the RE office yesterday, who suggested I go ahead and fast so that if Dr. PacMan wants the test done, we can just do it that day. I know it's only 8 a.m. but I'm a creature of habit and so I'm already hungry. Second, I am freaking out because, for some reason, the office was reeeeally backed up with their appointments. Normally, I'm called back to a room within 5-10 minutes of my scheduled appointment. I wasn't called back until 8:25. I have to be to work at 8:40. Today, the nurse practitioner, Tracy, is going to see me. She introduces herself, tells me to get undressed and she'll be back in a couple minutes. I practically jump out of my clothes, hop up on the table, cover up with the drape and then sit there impatiently for the next ten minutes. it's almost 8:40.

Fiiiiinally, she comes back. I throw myself back on the table and put my legs up in the stirrups all in one fluid motion. I moved with the never-before-discovered-in-me grace of a gazelle. The ultrasound reveals well over 20 follies on one side and well over 20 follies on the other side!.....but they're all tiny. Sigh.

I get dressed and meet nurse practitioner Tracy in the hall. As we finish up our conversation and I'm about to leave, she says, "I see that you and your husband declined artificial insemination?" Declined? Not exactly. I tell her my husband and I are on board for artificial insemination...and a pizza.