Words to keep me sane

Sometimes the only action you can take is to let go.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And the number of the counting shall be 4

There is this little game I sometimes like to play called "count the pregnant women at Target." I live in the Twin Cities, home of that great store with the bulls-eye logo where you can get anything from camping gear to tampons to cute clothes. Since there is one just down the road from me, and a Super Target no less, I find myself going there several times a week to grab whatever we happen to be out of. I'm guessing some of you out there can relate. When I go I never fail to notice (surprise, surprise) all of the women with child who are wandering about the place. Sometimes I wonder if there is a secret pg club membership where they get points for each trip they make...perhaps its part of the "Lullaby Club" gift registry package and its a way to earn baby loot. Maybe there is a vast conspiracy where they somehow know that I'm coming and mobilize with as great speed and agility as pregnant women can muster and arrive just in time to grab a cart in front of me. Whatever the case they are ALWAYS there. Today I made a typical post-work Target run for some dinner ingredients. I was there for all of 15 minutes - a speed trip I have perfected after years of practice - and I counted four of them. Four! OK, it could have been that the last one was just rather chubby round the midsection but the tie breaker always goes to pregnant in my book. Not that tally is anything out of the ordinary for my local Target, but damn! They were popping up out of the frozen foods section and wheeling through the aisles left and right. Certainly the universe had sent them there to torture me. That or maybe there was a giant baby stuff sale of which I was decidedly unaware. At any rate, as much as I'd like to boycott the place, there is no way I can give up Target. Maybe I'll just talk to the manager about a infertility friendly day where they don't let any pg women in. Don't I wish.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Sound of Music Revisited

Please bear with my silliness today. For some reason the mood struck me to come up with the following, based on the song "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music (one of my favorite movies). Here's what I think Maria might have sung if she had known the curse of infertility - not that Nazis weren't trouble enough.

My Least Favorite Things

Band-Aids on arm veins and bruises on buttocks
Brightly lit exam rooms and feet in the stirrups
Jumping on test day when the telephone rings
These are a few of my least favorite things

Follicles and hormone levels checked every few days
Messy progesterone to bolster luteal phase
Hot flashes and mood swings and the angst that they bring
These are a few of my least favorite things

Uber-fertile relatives and ever procreating friends
Feeling a failure when yet another cycle ends
Watching the years pass with anxiety growing
These are a few of my least favorite things

If the planets align
And the day comes
When a baby is ours
I will look back on all my least favorite things
And then I won’t feel so scarred

Saturday, August 25, 2007

And this is supposed to be fun?

In the interest of not being labeled a hermit, tonight I attended a dinner in honor of a friend's birthday. Given the fact that this friend is part of a couple who have two small children, I knew I would be walking into a proverbial parenthood lion's den. I force myself to take part in these events from time to time (when I can stomach the prospect) because, after all, the picture I have in my mind is certainly worse that the real situation, right? I wish. To set the scene, the guests included myself, the aforementioned couple, another couple with one small child and one on the way - although she hasn't bothered to tell me she's pregnant and she is well aware of our situation, a friend of the bday girl who attended solo because her husband was home with their sick child, and another couple who know the bday girl and her husband solely because their children go to the same daycare. My only savior was my best friend who lives with her boyfriend and isn't (as far as I know) planning on procreating any time soon. In short, I spent tonight in the 5th circle of hell, better known as a restaurant in St. Paul. The conversation swirling around me went something like this: "blah blah blah baby blah blah daycare blah blah blah breastfeeding, blah blah pregnancy blah blah blah kids blah blah Dora the Explorer..." Apparently once a child enters your life it is the ONLY topic permitted to be discussed when in the presence of other adults. Husband was unable to come with me so I suffered the above with only one glass of wine to soothe the savage beast that was attempting to claw its way out of me all night. How I wish the Twin Cities had a better public transportation system! The whole time I kept thinking of the Sesame Street or Electric Company (I forget which and I am dating myself) song where "one of these kids is doing her own thing" and you have to guess which character isn't like the others and why. I might as well have worn a big blinky barren sign to dinner...it would have been less obvious than my blatant inability to return any of the conversational volleys bouncing past me as I sat in silence and studied my salad. Given my stress level when the bill finally came, I'm not sure it's worth it to subject myself to these "festivities" even as often as I do. After all, life as a hermit must have other benefits besides saving money and greatly limiting the urge to run screaming from restaurants. I promise I will read this post the next time an Evite shows up in my inbox.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Puppy Love

Does it sound completely ridiculous to say I know how much I would love a child because of how much I love my dog? I have heard plenty of people talk about how your heart grows when you become a parent and when you first lay eyes on your child - whether it is at birth or during the adoption process, you experience a love of which you never knew you were capable. I confess that I marvel at the prospect of this. Since I don’t have a frame of reference, I can only compare the unconditional love I feel for the dog that has been a part of our family for the last seven years. I don’t consider myself a fanatical pet lover (one of those types who dresses up their pet and might stage a wedding ceremony after which the pet would be invited to eat off the owner’s plate) but I am a dedicated dog lover and appreciater (even though that’s not a word). Specifically, my dog has seen me through a lot of rough times and every time she looks at me with her adoring brown eyes I feel like I have a vague idea of what parents are talking about. Many would skewer me for putting animals and children in anywhere near the same category, but again, it’s all I have to go on right now. I wonder if there are any others in this boat who have a deep appreciation for their pets. I will admit that my dog has probably become my pseudo-child (poor thing!) and I relish her presence in my home and in my heart. If being a pet parent is this rewarding, I can only imagine what would be in store with an actual child *visualizing scene from the (original) Grinch movie where his heart grows until it shatters the magnifying glass*. I hope I get to find out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"I Would Die For That"

Sometimes I (inexplicably) flog myself by going to the celebrity baby blog website. I am at once drawn to it and repulsed by it and on weaker days I give in. It's like looking into the windows of the most fabulous candy store because you don't have any money to spend. Today, however, I found something I could partake of:


This is a video to Kellie Coffey's song "I Would Die For That" which is about her struggle to become a mother. I may be discovering this a bit late as I think this has become a very popular YouTube video (which is wonderful!), but I had to mention what a nice feeling it gave me to see someone in the public eye make such an open, honest, and real declaration about her struggle to become a mother. I confess I watched the video with tears in my eyes. These lyrics especially left me choked up:

Sometimes it's hard to conceive,
With all that I've got,And all I've achieved,
What I want most Before my time is gone,
Is to hear the words"I love you, Mom."

She said it better than I ever could.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Infertility's Common Thread

I stumbled across the concept of 'Infertility's Common Thread' today:


What a wonderful idea! I've had similar thoughts in the past (as I'm sure plenty of us have) about a "secret handshake" of sorts to acknowledge fellow companions on the IF journey. Let's face it, too many of us know what this feels like and it is always comforting, validating, and liberating to talk to our infertility comrades. Cheers to stirrup queens and all those who took part in bringing this into being!

Testing One Two

Today brought the joy of my third HSG. For anyone not familiar (but my suspicion is that if you are reading this blog you are quite familiar) it is a test done to check if your tubes are open, etc. A speculum, some dye, an x-ray machine, you get the idea. It's just your run-of-the-mill uncomfortable infertility exam, most often done at the beginning of an IF work up. I was the lucky recipient of a second, and now a third because of the propensity of my pregnancies to get hung up in my tubes. Incidentally, a friend who recently had an HSG had her tubes compared to "cocktail straws" by one of the medical types in the room. I couldn't agree more. No wonder our embryos have trouble traversing them...cocktail straws aren't exactly roomy. Anyway, I made the error today of forgetting to take ibuprofen beforehand. OUCH. The tech remarked that I was "in the zone" i.e. staring at the ceiling and not speaking. I don't know about a zone, but I do find it hard to carry on a conversation when experiencing the sensation of a Mack truck being driven through my reproductive plumbing. The good news is, all is clear. What that really means is is all they can SEE is clear. I've been told before that any tiny imperfection in the lining of the cocktail straw can create a roadblock (and don't I know it). At any rate, it's the best outcome we could have hoped for. It was also the last check on my list of things to do to see if we qualify for our clinic's shared risk program for IVF. Now husband needs to visit the clinic to leave behind what they need for his SPA test. His - ahem- contribution to our shared risk quest will happen next week. Slowly but surely we're reeling in the big fish that is in-vitro. On one hand we're excited at the prospect, on the other we're apprehensive and upset that we're even in the boat.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dear Gwen Stefani,

From today's People magazine online:

"Obviously I'm in a race to have another, but I don't want to do it while on tour," the singer, 37, tells InStyle for its September issue (on sale Friday). "But I can't wait to get pregnant again. It's so fun and consuming and romantic." -Gwen Stefani

Do you ever have one of those days where a headline like this smacks you right between the eyes because it is so foreign to your reality? I suppose I could grudgingly admit a commonality with the word "consuming" but somehow I don't think my definition would match hers. Not that I would wish infertility on anyone but I also don't know how to stop making my skin crawl when I read or hear revelations such as these. Maybe it smarts even more because once upon a time I was in the same proverbial boat. Didn't most of us expect that once the goalie was pulled (so to speak) that baby making would be one wildly entertaining roll in the hay and that pregnancy would be imminent? I'm clearly not really angry at Ms. Gwen but really at my own lost innocence. How did I get here? I hear of women who time their procreation to coincide correctly with summer vacations or existing siblings' birth dates or perhaps so that they aren't huge and swollen during the hottest months of summer. I marvel at the strings they are able to pull to control the very essence of human life. They can create human beings at will, these people. Do they walk around drunk on their own power? More likely than not, they never give it a second thought...just like Gwen here. I'm sure we all have something that someone else wishes they could have too, like thick hair or beautiful skin or a perfect soprano voice (OK not me personally on any of these counts) but command of earthly existence surely ranks a bit more highly than the ability to carry a tune. I'm all for counting my blessings, and I frequently do, but life and experience tell me that women who fall into Gwen's category don't give it a moment's thought. Oh how I wish they did.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


My thought in beginning a blog was that if the presence of these words on the world wide web provided someone out there with a feeling of "hey, I'm not alone in this" or "if they can keep going, so can we" it would be well worth it. In this vein, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on taking care of the emotional aspect of this very physical monster. These are just a few things that have helped keep me from crawling into a deep cave and requesting the door be sealed over with something heavy.

See if there is a support group or (better yet) a Mind/Body group in your area. http://www.infertilitymindbody.com/foreword.htm
Talking to others who know how this feels can go a long way to keeping your emotional health intact as much as possible. I took a Mind/Body class this past spring and I can't say enough about what it did for me. I learned invaluable stress relieving and meditative techniques. I also connected with a strong, compassionate group of women who have become a well spring of inspiration and support. I think the most common quote given by our instructor to anyone who would listen is "there is no need to suffer alone." After many years of doing just that, I agree with her 100%. Our class has ended, but our group continues to get together and to email each other. We remain a positive presence in each ohers' lives and infertility journeys.

If you feel inclined, look beyond western medicine and check out acupuncture.
I have been doing acupuncture now for about four months and it has brought a new level of peace to my life. I feel better, have more energy, and have noticed positive changes in my cycles since beginning my kinder, gentler love affair with needles. In my sessions I have also learned how important emotional "movement" is to over all physical health and well being. Emote away! Obviously when a treatment cycle is involved, your doctor needs to know about an herbs, etc., you are taking to make sure nothing interferes.

Do what you need to do to keep yourself sane.
If, like me, you have stood by while family members and friends announce pregnancies and have children (in many cases, several) while you WAIT for your turn, you know how mentally taxing it can be. Do what you can and let the rest go. Take care of yourself first. For me that means avoiding situations that could potentially be uncomfortable or in some cases excruciating (baby showers, gatherings, celebrations). I am not a hermit but I have definitely downshifted.

That's about all I've got. We all know there is no magic potion, special diet, or miracle cure. We all just muddle through and lean on each other. I am lucky that Husband is an amazing partner in all of this. We still manage to laugh together. I guess that's the best I can hope for.

The beginning (sort of)

It's funny to think that after all this time I am considering this a new beginning of sorts. That's the thing about infertility - with each new development or discovery you can almost trick yourself into feeling rebooted...like whatever came before has been (at least temporarily) shelved in light of the next attempt or the next treatment. Of course past history must be taken into account because it is the basis for the new, but the old hurts and disappointments are allowed to mellow and settle while the focus remains forward. Onward and upward I always say. So the new beginning is represented both by this blog and by the fact that at present Husband and I are honing in on our first IVF cycle. For the sake of clarity, a bit about how we got here. As anyone who discovered their own infertility monster under (or in) the bed knows, the "story" can get very long, drawn out, and convoluted. In a very tiny nutshell then I offer the following:

  • Married at 25, husband was 26 and had a son from a previous relationship
  • Started "trying" one year into marriage. Irregular cycles
  • First pregnancy on Clomid, March 2002. M/C at about 5 weeks
  • Began seeing RE in 2003
  • Second pregnancy on Clomid with IUI July 2003. HCG levels never got off the ground
  • Third pregnancy on injectables with IUI September 2003. Same as above
  • Endo, possible PCOS...RE didn't seem overly concerned. Out of covered IUI cycles. On the bench
  • Fourth pregnancy all on our own, September 2005. Ectopic. Surgery to remove pregnancy, tube OK
  • Fifth pregnancy all on our own, June 2006. HCG levels never got off the ground
  • Sixth pregnancy all on our own, April 2007. HCG levels indicate ectopic. Methotrexate

So, here we are. The "e" word seems to be our achilles heel as RE suspects most or all of these embryos have not made their way to the proper place. Given all this we are now *gulp* turning over the daunting and hairy IVF leaf. We are currently in prelimary testing to see if we qualify for the magic "shared risk" program that will provide some sense of a safety net. We'll see what happens.