February 28, 2008

Dreadful somethings, and my photogenic uterus.....

First. Thank you everyone for your comments and support on those last two posts. Wow. I am just so impressed with you all. You all are so insightful, so right on, and so incredibly kind. Thank you.

Second. Mr. Spicy and I are working through the financial stuff. He came with me to my counselor tonight and we talked more about it. It is hard for him, of course. But I think we both realize that there is a lot of purpose in this struggle and that on some level it is probably going to be so good for us both in the end.

Third. We are going for our IVF consultation and our carnival of testing tomorrow. That includes a new semen analysis for Mr. Spicy (aka "fun with a cup") and communicable disease testing for the both of us. I will get the special treatment, however. I get to have a hysteroscopy (my uterus is already primping herself for the camera - I can feel it....) and a doppler ultrasound to measure blood flow to my uterus and I will also have my AMH level tested. I am actually really excited for the consultation. I think we will get our "calendar" (aka "that which will rule our lives for the next several months like a hardened 200lb dominatrix") - and we will finally have a "plan", something to look forward to that is concrete and real. The testing is freaking me out a little though...

So I took my antibiotic tonight like a good little patient, and I am trying not to worry too much about tomorrow. It is so funny, (well not funny, no not really funny at all actually, more odd really) - when we first began the medical portion of this journey, I really hoped the doctors would find something wrong with one of us - preferably something easily fixed, but something. That way we wouldn't just be left wondering why it hasn't happened yet for us. But nothing was found. So now here we are, at the last hurdle before the official IVF boot camp begins, and I am so nervous that they will find something - Some thing that prevents us from moving forward right now, something that derails our train, something that creates a road block - even a temporary one. And let me tell you, if this happens - I will not be ok with it.

It has taken SO much just to get to this point. I have had to "let go" of plans, of dreams, of ideals, of a truckload of money, of opportunities, of hopes....I have had to "adjust", "respond", "re-evaluate". And to get here, here where even six months ago I could not fathom being, I have had to make new plans, new hopes, new ideals, new dreams - and now? Now I am so totally on board with this new plan, this new path, this new ideal - so "on board" in fact that the thought of having to change this yet again makes me break out in a sweat. So no, no it will not be OK if something comes up. Something has already had its chance to appear. It was invited, it was waited on, and it was a no show. Something stood me up. So now? Now, something does not get to just stroll through the door - hours late for our date, and demand to be taken out to dinner. Nope. Sorry. There is no room. I will not tolerate it. (ha! as if I really have a choice here, right?)

I am trying to stay positive. Nothing will happen. Everything will be perfect. textbook perfect really. And my uterus will get her moment to shine - she did such a good showing for the HSG, I have every faith she will do the same for her photo shoot tomorrow. She's really photogenic, you know? She's a bit of a ham - I think she'd secretly like to be a contestant on America's Next Top Model. But she's too good for Tyra - and she's not willing to go on a diet. She's just all hip and progressive like that. Um, yeah, I just said my uterus is "hip and progressive" that's right, got a problem with that?

Ok seriously though - tomorrow feels big. Really big. Like we are really going to do this crazy thing.




February 27, 2008

The Root of All Evil


Mr. Spicy and I had a loooooooong talk about it last night. And again this morning. The lack of it, the needing more, the taking of it by our RE and all our infertility expenses....ad nauseum.

The thing is - we aren't that bad off. There are many many people who are having to finance (i.e. "owe the man") for their entire IVF and those who just simply can't afford to do IVF at all, financing or otherwise. We are talking about selling our souls going into further debt for only about a third of the IVF costs. We have it comparatively good. The fact we can even consider IVF is really a luxury.

We have worked really diligently at paying off student loans, car payments, etc...to get where we are now which is still not out of the woods, but looking darn close. We really have a value of not creating new debt, and eventually living debt-free. It is hard when something like this comes up and we look at the amount we will pay out all at once and think: "Wow. It took us over a year to pay less than that on a student loan." and to know that this means a major set back in our plans to take over the world get out of debt.

I have always been the type to say, "It's only money!" and I have always felt things would somehow work themselves out. The sad thing is, during those times I made far less than we do now, and I was in fact, OK. So, how did we get here, where we make a combined salary that is really darn good and we still have to have these stressful and gut-wrenching conversations about financial decisions?

Mr. Spicy on the other hand is not one to say, "It's only money!" - he worries and ponders over our financial situation constantly. He has valid reasons for doing so - but since this isn't his blog and he has not willfully chosen to share his whole life with the world wide web, I won't delve into his reasons. Suffice it to say, he is not just some stingy curmudgeon. Not at all. But money matters to him, it matters a lot. Well, actually what it symbolizes to him matters a lot. He sees being debt-free and financial gains as being closer to freedom (and somewhat rightly so) and thus, setbacks financially feel like setbacks on the path towards freedom and autonomy. That's a big deal.

This morning, as Mr.Spicy processed all the ways that the expenses of IVF and the related decisions we are making as a result are burdening his heart and mind, my heart broke. I feel like somehow I am
doing this TO him. He doesn't feel this way. At least he hasn't admitted to me as much. But I just do. I looked at him this morning and I thought about how much this is costing him, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, financially, and I wished for a moment that I had never come into his life. I thought about how much better off he would be without his infertile wife in the picture. How he would have so much more freedom. Freedom to buy those new shoes he is lusting after. Freedom to buy a brand new suit. Freedom to drive a truck that isn't more than a decade old. Freedom to do what he loves in the world and never worry about money. Freedom to never feel "deprived".

And of course, we could just not do IVF - but that involves even greater costs that I don't think either of us is willing to pay.

It is so stupid and astounding to me that something like money could make me wish something like that - that we had never met. Because there is so much more than that between us. But I feel like in this moment of counting costs, of watching the results of years of hard work and diligence seem to disappear into thin air - what I have to offer here just seems so insignificant and small. I want so much to make this easier for him, to take more of the burden on myself - but I can't. (Honestly, my earning potential is just ridiculously less than his.) Just like he can't take on the burden of the shots, the hormones, the invasive procedures, the blood draws, the guilt, the shame, the questions that are uniquely mine to carry.

We are more together, more a team than ever - but still there is such a difference in what we carry in this, what we stay awake over, what we grind our teeth over at night.

Of course - if our IVF is successful these costs will seem small in comparison (I hope) - and I am sure we will never ever regret having made the sacrifices needed to do this. But if it doesn't work?......

It is so much bigger than money, isn't it? It always is though.

If you had to pay for IVF "out of pocket" - how did you cope with the financial decisions and financial strain? Was it different for you and your partner?

February 23, 2008

The Slump

I have been afflicted with "the Slump" again.

The Slump is what I am choosing to call this particular vein of depression. I am not quite paralyzed by it, definitely not suicidal yet, not devoid of hope - but still, in a slump of sorts.

I feel sad and achy. I feel hyper-sensitive. I am fixated on the negative in my life right now (my grandmother being sick and confused, my own infertility, my struggles at work), I am unduly exhausted and wanting to sleep - or alternately throw a tantrum, whichever seems more appropriate at the time.

Mostly, my heart just hurts.

Now, this Slump, it is no stranger to me - I have found myself sick with it many many times, especially in the last couple of years. And probably if I would just kindly acknowledge its existence, and its valid reason for visiting, it might just settle down and eventually pack its bags and head off to warmer climes.

But, instead, I go through a familiar ritual with the Slump whenever it is in town.

1. I deny that it is here. I walk around it, I ignore it, I pretend not to hear it, see it, smell it, or taste it - even though at this point it has all but invaded my internal organs. The Slump likes to cuddle, apparently.

2. I try to destroy it with positive thinking. When the Slump starts to go on with the litany of sorrows and complaints it feels I should be paying closer attention to, I smile and repeat happy little mantras about how everything will be ok, I have nothing to fear, etc. Pretty soon, however, I forget to keep the mantras in my head and I am practically shouting them to the sky to try to drown out the voice of the Slump. Now I just appear crazy and superstitious. The Slump scoffs at my "positive thinking".

3. I try to contain the Slump. In theory, this would work very much in the same way as vacuuming up a spider - it isn't dead, but it can't bite you from inside the canister. But the Slump is tricky. It will not be contained. It kicks at me from where I lock it inside and eventually it picks the locks and comes out stronger than ever. The Slump is kind of like a teenager: cranky, insistent on getting its way, sulky, moody, irrational, and very very crafty.

4. I fight with the Slump. This never goes well, we can leave it at that. I always end up exhausted, frustrated, and defeated. The power is strong with the Slump.

5. And finally, finally, I give up. But I don't like it, I don't feel good about it, and I certainly don't make any chicken soup for the Slump. It can stay, but I am not putting out clean towels or dusting for it.

The truth is, I think this battle - this charade that I go through is not helping. (You think?) So, I need to find another way to cope.

Maybe by welcoming it? Making friends with it? And, as I would do any time I have an annoying house guest, take better care of myself and get out more? Sure. That might work.

I do have some good reasons for feeling cranky and moody and "slumpish" right now - my grandmother is having a very difficult time, and my family members caring for her are having an even harder time. It is really frustrating to not be able to help right now, I am just hurting so much for everyone involved. And, yes, even though we are "moving towards IVF", I am still not pregnant and there are reminders everywhere that lots of others are and however selfish and self-centered that sounds, that's too bad - this is where I live right now. And frankly, it sucks. And work, well lets not even get into that, ok? And lets not forget hormones - truly, we must give credit where credit is due....and hormones are likely playing a big role in this latest visit of the Slump. The hormones send out little hand-embossed personalized invites to the Slump to come for long-extended visits. The hormones are really getting on my nerves. (and we don't even have enough time to start talking about my nerves....)

So - why do I feel like I am failing somehow? Why does being not quite "ok" make me feel like I am somehow doing something wrong?

I laughed at the part of the Walt Disney video, that I posted yesterday, where the announcer encouraged young women to "stop feeling sorry for themselves" and then went on to explain how important it was to "take those days in stride" and regain your composure. There was an animation of a girl crying, and then realizing she was "feeling sorry for herself" - to which she responded by throwing her shoulders back, prettying herself up and smiling a pretty and complacent smile. I laughed, yesterday, because I thought of how ridiculous and horrid it was that women were constantly sent this message - that they needed to just "buck up" and slap on some make up and a pretty smile and get on with life.

It truly is a wonder that more women of this era didn't commit suicide.

And yet, and yet? I find myself thinking some of the same ridiculous thoughts, that being strong and other-centered as a woman means "getting over yourself" and moving on. And while, there are probably times when this is appropriate - most of the time, it is neither kind nor realistic.

So. I am here. I have the Slump. We just had some lasagna together. We might go to the gym together later. The Slump always seems to start to think about moving on after a few rigorous workouts. I think the Slump is kind of a wimp really - can't really handle all the sweating and the lifting of heavy things, and the walking briskly on elevated platforms. That's ok.

I am hoping this will be a short visit, but I am going to try to be kind to it anyway.

February 22, 2008

"When you stop feeling sorry for yourself and learn to take these days in stride....."

Walt Disney tells the Story of Mestruation. (now on DVD and Blue ray).

Ok. So you may have noticed that I deleted my last two posts that linked to videos from the 1960s with the very oddly open and robotic family explaining to their daughter all about periods. I thought the videos were funny because the adults all seemed so Stepford-Wife-ish and just very very strange.

However, a good friend pointed out that their daughter obviously had Down's Syndrome (which I had noticed as well) and she told me that her friends who had a daughter with Down's also had to explain things like periods to her in a very matter-of-fact and repetitive way. She said the video reminded her of something her friends might have used when educating their daughter and so she didn't think it was so funny.

And I felt like a major asshat.

So I pulled those posts. I will try not to make a habit of this - but I felt like people could really get the wrong idea from them, and I didn't like the idea of laughing at something that might in fact be very necessary and helpful and not at all funny. That's just not how I roll.

In their place however, I have decided to lift your spirits with a video made in 1946 all about "The Story of Menstruation" brought to you by, of all people, Walt Disney, apparently he was the expert on this at the time? Oh, I guess it is also brought to you by our fine friends at Kotex.


Oh, here's 2 more just for good measure:

Molly Grows Up Part I

Molly Grows Up Part II

My favorite line: "I can't go swimming! You know I have the curse!"

February 19, 2008

Where we got our love of gossip mags and our snarky sense of humor from....

My grandmother had a stroke yesterday. I don't know a whole lot. I know she has memory loss. I know last night she didn't know who she was and didn't recognize my aunt or cousin. I know she is having trouble finding the right words when she speaks.

I am trying not to get too dramatic or overly catastrophic here, which is hard since my hormones are raging and I have been on the verge of crying all day.

My grandmother is the matriarch of my mother's side of our family. She raised 3 girls as a single mother in a time when that was nearly unheard of. She went through a divorce that left her wounded, and some might say bitter, for many years after. She is a chain-smoker, she eats chocolate like it is the ONLY food group, she religiously reads The Enquirer and watches crime shows on television. She does not knit, she does not bake, she does not put up with B.S.. She loves her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren fiercely. She is a force to be reckoned with. And she is partly the reason all of us "girls" can be so sarcastic, witty, snarky, and hilarious with one-another but will also fight with everything in us to protect one another or come to each other's defense. She is not perfect. She is a survivor. And we love her.

I don't know why exactly, because she has had many health issues in the last couple of years, but this stroke in particular, has really forced me to ask questions such as, "next time I see her, will she recognize me?", "Will she ever recognize me again?", "How much longer will we have with her?", "Why haven't I visited more, called more, been more involved?", "How many more chances will I have to reach out to her?", "Why have I taken her so much for granted all these years?"

I don't know what the right response is, I don't know what to do. She is OK for now, at least that is what I am hearing. If I lived close I could just go visit her, be with her, hold her hand, tell her I love her, but she is hundreds of miles away in another state and I don't even know if me visiting or being there would even be helpful at this point. I want to DO something, to make up somehow for all the times I didn't call or write or visit, for all the times I thought she would always be there and just took it for granted. But, there is no real way to make up for lost time. I need to remember this, remember her, remember to be grateful for her, for all her gifts and her faults, for who she is, good and bad, and I need to remember to never forget to tell her that I love her.

Grandma Penny, you are one of the strongest and most stubborn women I have ever known. I love you so much. I am praying for your healing and your comfort.

February 18, 2008

To make me less afraid...

An untitled poem by Dawna Markova:

I will not die an unlived life,
I will not go in fear
Of falling or catching fire,
I choose to inhabit my days,
To allow my living to open to me,
To make me less afraid,
More accessible,
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance:
To live.
So that which comes to me as seed,
Goes to the next as blossom,
And that which comes to me as blossom,
Goes on as fruit.

Colobloggers....what a fine group of ladies!

Just wanted to post quickly about how much I enjoyed meeting the women of the ColoBloggers on Saturday.

I was, and still am, astounded at the courage and empathy these women have. It was incredible to be among such a smart, kind, honest, brave, and funny group of women. I had a really good time and I kind of felt like I had found the "cool group". It felt really good to be there.

I have been thinking of how hard it often is for infertile women to find support, stories, and the information that they need. The dominant culture still seems to stigmatize infertility pretty intensely and the research and information available out there just seems incredibly slow in coming.

So, what is amazing to me is to see all of these women blogging in Colorado and all across the country about their experiences with infertility. They are bravely putting themselves out there, creating the support network that is so needed. This is truly the essence of social change. People moving to create in the world what is lacking, to benefit themselves and others.

I believe that the collective voice of all of these women telling their stories, reaching out to one another, removing the veil of secrecy and shame that has hidden this subject for so long, will eventually reach the larger culture as a whole. I believe that the willingness of these women to talk about this openly will help remove some of the stigma, will allow the larger culture to accept the reality of infertility, and maybe even lead to further research and study that will benefit infertile women and men in the future.

I believe that what these women are doing is significant. Not only for themselves, and those that they reach out to and support, but for the future women who will walk the same paths and ask the same questions, and cry the same tears. They are forging a path with their hearts, with their words, and with their honesty.

It is a deep honor to be among them and I am greatly humbled by what they have survived and what they continue to share of themselves.

You all inspire me. Thank you.

February 17, 2008

How Did We Get Here? - Part II : 12/06 - 2/08

So, I have lost my momentum a bit - but I am going to try to finish up with the last year or so of what this road has looked like for us. Here goes:

Winter/Spring, 2006/2007 -
I begin seeing Shelley at Apothecary Tinctura. She also does MAM with me, and adds in Bach Flower Essences, Plant Medicine/Healing, Spiritual healing work and just general mind/body work. Desirae begins doing some hypnotherapy with me as well. I am officially an Apothecary junkie!
I go to a Women's Painting Weekend offered through Apothecary in January. We practice "Painting from the Source" and a beautiful and powerful image appears in my painting of a strong and fierce woman/warrior/angel. This image becomes a guide and a comfort for me in this journey.

Also in January, I end up in the ER with abdominal pain and vomiting. I find out I have what appears to be a possible ovarian cyst (my second ever in my life) - and a very rude and incompetent Dr. does a painful pelvic exam and tests me for all sorts of STDs without my consent and refers to the cyst as "something going on either on your ovary or uterus". (Can you tell I am still bitter?)

I go to see Dr. Anselmi. He is a Catholic doctor. I decided to go see him because the Catholic medical community has done a lot of research on helping women conceive simply by balancing hormonal levels and/or thyroid levels. They do a BUNCH of tests - which consist of me driving all the way across town, sometimes every other day, in order to do blood draws so that they can measure my hormonal levels throughout my cycle. They also do very in-depth and detailed thyroid testing. Nothing very significant is discovered. We try hcg shots for luteal phase support for a couple of months. I get a prescription for thyroid hormone, but never end up taking it since my tests were not really indicative of a true thyroid imbalance. This goes on for several months. I do not get pregnant.

And, early in 2007, I begin to see a different acupuncturist, Lee Fisher-Rosenberg. I really click with her spiritually, emotionally, relationally. She was recommended to me by a friend who went through IVF with her and felt that Lee was really the key element to her getting pregnant.

Late Spring / Early Summer 2007 -
After a few months, we decide to go to a reproductive endocrinologist. We go see Dr. Minjarez at CCRM. She is kind and warm and gives us all the stats. We discuss what we have done so far and what testing we need to do from here. We make appointments for Day3 bloodwork, ultrasound, HSG, etc. etc. Husband has already had a Semen Analysis at this point. (he was told he had "super sperm" - boy it took a long time to live that one down!) The tests all come back negative - no abnormalities! My FSH was 7.9, my resting follicle count was 13, and everything else looked normal. My hsg in fact was "textbook" according to the Dr. who performed it: wide open tubes, perfect shaped uterus....great! (I actually felt so much affection for my uterus when I could see it highlighted up there on the screen - she looked lovely!) But then, why aren't we pregnant yet? No one knows. We decide to give it till August to happen naturally since there is no reason why it shouldn't.

One of my girlfriends hosts a night of prayer and blessings for me. Several of my women friends bring incredible words of comfort, prayer, and lament for me in my struggles to conceive. It is a truly special night but very hard to receive.

We go to Santa Fe for an extended weekend getaway. Our plan was to get away to somewhere a little warmer. It snows while we are down there, we are cold , but it is a great time away from it all. I purchase a small but heavy bronze angel that reminds me of my painting. I also purchase a book on altars. I decide to build a small altar at home of things that represent my hope to become pregnant and my experience of God in female form and my experience of God as a Mother. I do make a little altar when we get back. I put the angel on it. I put the baby blanket that my husband's grandmother had made in expectation of his first born child on it. I put a picture on it of a madonna-esque statue that I took when I was in Taos with a dear friend a few years prior. I put a baby rattle given to me by a dear friend on it, I put all the notes, cards, trinkets, stones, jewelry, and other items that friends have given me, to help me through this journey, on my altar. I add incense, and sage, and candles. It gets pretty crowded but it remains a reminder of this hope and desire I am putting forth out into the universe.

It seems everyone is getting pregnant and having babies. I am having such a hard time with this. But, for some reason I just
feel like I will be preggers by August.

Summer 2007 -
Busy summer! In June I head to Minneapolis to visit my mom and celebrate my sister for completing her first marathon. In July, my goddaughter/niece, who is now 7, comes to visit again and we have another amazing week together. In August, we head down to Costa Rica for our second trip there together. We celebrate our 5th anniversary and my 33rd birthday. We raft down a wild river and we spend hours and hours reading on the secluded beach. It is truly paradise. We wait to see if my premonition was correct, will I be pregnant this month? The answer is a resounding "no". My period starts while we are hiking through a jungle. Even in this beautiful place, the depression and weariness of this journey, and all it has taken to continue to hope up to this point, overtake me. I am deeply wounded. We return from our vacation a little sad and wary for the steps to come.

I feel like my body is broken somehow. I feel nervous about our next step: Clomid with IUI. I have worked so hard to do everything natural and holistically up to this point. The idea of putting this drug into my body is less than appealing. How will I feel?
I begin, in August, to see a wise and kind counselor, Sharon, to help me process and deal better with the overwhelming depression that had slowly and powerfully (and with good reason) edged its way into my life.

Fall/Winter 2007 -
We do our first IUI in September. I take 50mg of Clomid CD 5-9. I have 1 big follie. We are excited and hopeful. It feels like this will be IT. It is not successful. I am incredibly disappointed and sad.

We do our 2nd IUI in October. I take 100mg of Clomid CD 5-9. I have 2-3 good follies. It is also not successful. I am crushed. I send an email to friends saying:
"I'm finding it hard to muster up even sadness at this point as I just feel so completely exhausted and let down and hopeless. I don't know how much more of this I can take. It is so hard to understand - and we have no answers at all. This was our 23rd month trying to conceive. One more month and we will have been on this journey for 2 years!

It is so draining and I feel so STUCK - like the one thing I feel that I am supposed to be doing right now, I can't and everything else just feels like it is holding space in the meantime.

I want to ask "why us?" .... it all feels so incredibly unfair and I feel like I may never get to hold this baby I have dreamed of for so long. I feel so discouraged."

We do our 3rd and last IUI with Clomid in November. It has now been 2 years since we started. I am so depressed I don't even email friends to tell them we are going in for our 3rd try. We are quietly and tentatively hopeful. It is also not successful. I am completely and utterly devastated at this point. The depression gets really really bad. I tell my husband at several points that I although I have no plans to harm myself, I really just want to die. As we lie in a hotel room during our trip to KS for Thanksgiving, I tell him that all I can think about is jumping out the window (we are on the 5th floor). I write in an email to a friend:
"Unfortunately, not only was I not pg, which I pretty much knew, but there were 2 cysts on my left ovary that meant that we could not do any treatments for December. I was crushed. I felt practically suicidal. This whole journey has left me feeling so powerless and trapped. I feel as though nothing I do makes a difference or changes anything. I feel like I am running out of options. I feel like I have done everything I possibly can and I just don't understand why this is happening to me.

I have been seeing my therapist - we have been spending a lot of time exploring this feeling of powerlessness, and also my feelings that on some level I "deserve" this suffering or need to experience every ounce of pain in this process. "

We have a "regroup" appointment with Dr. Minjarez in December. She recommends mega-doses of Fish Oils for my depression. (My acupuncturist also gives me herbs for my depression) We decide to move on to IVF. We need to wait until April/May though for financial reasons. And frankly? We just need to breathe for a few months. Dr. M tells us that she thinks the Spring will be a perfect time to do IVF. She gives us the list of what tests need to be finished and we discuss all the financing options, success rates, and general protocols. We feel sad to have to take this next step but excited and hopeful that this may be IT for us. We are SO ready to be DONE and to have our baby(ies) home and in our arms. We proceed to get in a stupid fight in the basement of the hospital where the RE's office is. We are both stressed and frazzled and scared in spite of the hope this may offer for us - it is EXPENSIVE! And it is still a big risk.

I am connected (through a mutual friend) with a great woman (J.) and her husband (R.). They are also preparing for IVF. They will be going through an out-of-state clinic and they have a possible diagnosis so they aren't in
exactly the same boat - but it is darn close. It is such a relief to meet with someone who instantly "gets" it - all the emotions, all the procedures, all the acronyms. J. is a huge source of support for me. Meeting with her normalizes so much of what I am going through and helps me stay positive. R. and my husband connect really well and finally my husband too has someone he can talk to about the unique ways this process affects men. We are both so grateful for this connection.

January 2008 -
I decide to focus on my health for the next couple of months while we wait for IVF. I set a goal to lose 30lbs by April. I am trying to work out at least 30 min, at least 5 times a week. (It often ends up being an hour 3 x a week) I change my diet and eliminate sugar, alcohol, dairy, and caffeine - I am already gluten-free because I have Celiacs Disease. I try to loosely apply the concepts I learned when I did Weight Watchers years ago and I weigh-in every Wednesday with a group of women, also trying to lose weight, on my message board. The weight starts coming off pretty quickly and the exercising really helps my moods.

Unfortunately, I foolishly believed that I could simply put the infertility "stuff" away for a few months. I start having dreams all the time about pregnancy. I also start experiencing massive anxiety. I realize that I cannot simply put this part of me away. Even though we aren't actively pursuing treatment this month - I am still not where I want to be, and so I am still on this journey. There is no escape. I had hoped I could simply "get my life back" and return to who I had been before I had experienced all of this. I was naive. The person I was before no longer exists. The person I will be when this is through does not exist yet. I am in-between, unformed, vulnerable, raw. I have been forever changed and shaped by this experience. I realize much of my social anxiety stems from this feeling of raw vulnerability and this identity crisis of not knowing fully who I am right now and knowing that I am not yet who I will be. In general, I feel a bit crazy and wonder if I will ever fully feel like "myself" again.

February 2008 -
We try guaifenesin around ovulation - what the heck! We've tried just about everything else, right?
And now we wait.

We have our last big batch of testing at the end of the month. I will be getting a hysteroscopy, a doppler ultrasound to test for blood flow to the uterus, and a blood test for my AMH levels and communicable diseases. Husband will be getting another semen analysis (and let me tell you he is not looking forward to this), semen culture, test for antibodies, and a blood test for communicable diseases. And lastly, on that same eventful day, we will meet with the Dr. for our official IVF consultation. This is the last hurdle before we officially start our IVF protocol. It is exciting but I also want to slow it all down and experience it piece by piece. This, however it develops, will be life-changing. I don't want to miss a moment of it.

So....that pretty much catches you up....

Sue Monk Kidd writes: "
It is stories women need. Stories give us hope, a little guidance, and a lot of bravery."

I have borrowed much hope, guidance, and bravery from the stories of other women who have been where I am standing. I hope that my story will offer another woman the same.

February 15, 2008

33 grams...but who's counting?

Um, so today I accidentally ingested 33grams of protein at breakfast.

How does one do this?

Well, I was all out of my rice protein powder and my hemp shake mixes. So, I decided to use hubbie's whey protein for my morning shake. I know, it is dairy - but I figured a little wouldn't hurt. It is hormone-free, after all.

So - I put 10oz. of water in the cup, then I add a scoop of the whey protein, then I add a tbsp. of raw almond butter, then I add 3/4 c. of frozen organic raspberries, and then I top it all off with a scoop of my chocolate flavored-greens supplement. Yummy!

As the Magic Bullet is whirring away, I decide to check out the stats....

Whey Protein: 24 grams of protein (holy cow!)
Almond Butter: 7 grams of protein (who knew?)
Greens Powder: 2 grams of protein

Slurping down more protein than the human body can digest in one sitting?


Of course now I am scouring the internet for what happens when you have a protein-overdose. Eh...I think I will be fine - I just feel like I am hopped up on speed, that's normal, right?

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just wanted to wish you all a day of love, for yourself, and for/from others in your life.

May your heart be full today.

Oh, and eat lots of chocolate!


Yep - that's me!

I haven't had enough time or frame of mind to continue the "How did we get here?" Part II post. I will definitely do it this weekend. In the meantime I will post some other things I have written this week.


February 13, 2008

Lack of interest....

I had planned to go to a fertility support group at Apothecary Tinctura this Monday night, but it was "canceled due to lack of interest" - I was the only one to sign up. So - I am bummed....could have really used that support.

I think that the practice we are going through for IVF (CCRM) has a support group on Mondays, I am going to call and see if I can check it out. It would probably be good for hubbie and me to go together even.

But I don't know, somehow that doesn't seem as attractive to me as going to a group at Apothecary Tinctura. Those women there are truly phenomenal.

Lack of interest....c'mon!

Where are all my cool hippie-spicy-artsy-earth-loving ladies who are struggling with fertility????

~Ahem, as a side note, I feel the need to add that I have made friends with an amazing woman (J.) who is also gearing up for IVF and she is very cool and a great source of support. I just had hoped to find a cool group to be a part of and I knew if it was happening at Apothecary it would definitely be MY kind of group!

The good kind of needles....

I finally saw my acupuncturist, Lee, after about 2 months off. It was so good to see her. She is wise and kind and encouraging and just all-around cool. I feel SO much better, so much more "normal" and balanced. I have been struggling with depression and MAJOR anxiety and panic since December and I can tell that after seeing her for one treatment much of that underlying fear and anxiety has lifted. (Of course I also saw my amazing counselor, the day before - which always helps!)

ALSO good news - I talked with her about scheduling with her once we start the 4-6weeks of meds prior to doing the IVF and she said weekly visits would be fine. But even better news: I have read many articles that refer to studies where there has been shown sometimes a 20-40% increase in pregnancy rates when acupuncture is paired with IVF treament. In all the articles / studies, the women received acupuncture treatments right before and after the embryo transfer. I was nervous that Lee might not be able to do this for me since she works limited hours but she said "Absolutely!" and told me she isn't traveling during that time period so she should be available. This was a huge relief! I was so anxious about having to find a different acupuncturist to help me out for that one day and the idea of doing that with someone I wasn't as familiar or comfortable with was a little unnerving for me.

So...I a beginning to feel like I am getting my "team" altogether and geared up - go team!!!

February 11, 2008

How did we get here?? - Part I: 11/05-11/06

I am realizing that we have been through so much at this point that this blog is coming into the game a little late - I should have started this a year ago...

So....for those of you not familiar with the long sordid journey we've taken to get to this point I will sketch a little time line:

Nov 2005 - Husband tells me he is ready to start "trying" (after much pestering from me for several months prior. I get very excited, sure that we will become pregnant that very month, and tell EVERYONE that we are "officially trying to conceive". (in hindsight, not the smartest move on my part) I sign up on all the baby websites for updates and info and I buy pregnancy books.

December 2005 - Using my handy-dandy and already very worn copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I begin to chart my cycles. I become very familiar with every little nuance of my body and what it means from day to day. In other words....I obsess.

January 2006 - Husband and I go to a New Year's Retreat at The Mandala Center in New Mexico. The retreat is lead by Jim Reale and Susan Rush. We do lots of Centering Prayer and Yoga/Prayerful Movement and occasional chanting. We mostly spend a great deal of time in silence and connect deeply with some truly amazing people. I am sure that I will be pregnant this month - I am not. I gather volunteers and paint our dining room instead.
Oh, I also start my last semester at school. I take a painting class in which I really discover my "voice" through art and make several paintings symbolizing my yearning for a baby throughout the next 4 months.
I occasionally do yoga and tai chi to support fertility.

February 2006 - I co-star in The Vagina Monologues on campus. I am in several pieces but I get my own monologue about childbirth, "I was there in the room" - I pour every ounce of desire for my own experience of childbirth into that monologue. It is a powerful experience.

March 2006 - We aren't pregnant yet, I am really dismayed - but still very hopeful. I go for my first Mayan Abdominal Massage appointment with an amazing woman named Desirae. She tells me that my uterus is slightly tipped forward and that often MAM is able to help women conceive after about 3 months of treatment. 3 months sound great to me. She teaches me how to do it at home, gets me on some herbal supplements and tells me how to do castor oil packs on my abdomen around menstruation, and how to do vaginal steams. I continue to see her for many more than 3 months. My periods become very short and painless, my uterus gets into the healthy position, but I am still not pregnant. Two friends have had babies and one close friend has become pregnant since we began trying in November. I am finding it harder and harder to celebrate others. I hate this.

April 2006 - I write letters to our unborn child in my journal. I also journal about how much shame I feel for this desire to be pregnant and for not being pregnant yet. I begin to really wonder if I am being punished or am in some way too flawed and broken to be a mother. I begin to feel unworthy. I begin to really face a lot of my fears about God being vengeful or spiteful or hurtful to me in some way. I begin to really struggle with depression.

May 2006 - Still no pregnancy, but I graduate from college with a Bachelor's Degree in "Sociological/Psychological Transformations through the Arts", and most of my family and friends (even from out of town) make it out to celebrate with me, which was very cool! I begin looking for full time employment while internally wondering if I will be pregnant before that happens. I continue to work my 2 part time jobs through the summer.

June 2006 - We go to San Francisco for a week. Husband has a training and I get to explore the city and museums. We then go explore wine country with a dear friend and his partner. It is really amazing.
Two more friends have babies.

July 2006 - I meet with my husband's counselor and then we begin marriage counseling. It is really really good for us both.
My 6yr old goddaughter/niece comes to stay with us for a week. I have so much fun with her and am reminded how much I can't wait to have kiddos of my own.

August 2006 - I turn 32. I always thought I would have my first child when I was thirty two. I realize time is running out for that to happen.
We go to Key West with my dad and step-mom. It is a really great time of connecting and relaxing. We are very lucky.
But we are not pregnant yet.

September 2006 - I start acupuncture with an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility. She puts me on Chinese herbs. I have now read almost every book in the library on infertility.

I begin volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters through an arts program out of a local school. I am excited to meet and get to know my "little" and love all the fun things we get to do together in the program. I also end up meeting and befriending a girl who lives across the street from us and is participating in the art program as well.

A dear friend gives birth. I go to visit her and am wracked with guilt and shame that it is so hard for me to fully celebrate her and her new baby. This is not who I want to be. But I just can't seem to do any better. I am really hurting. I feel so stuck and so ashamed.

October 2006 - I make an appointment for my "annual exam/pap" at the only free-standing birth center in town. I am going here because I am really hopeful that this might be where I give birth eventually. I meet with the nurse-midwife named Tracey who is the founder and she does my exam. We talk about my difficulties conceiving. She recommends a Dr. who works with women's hormonal levels and is a good next step and not quite as invasive as seeing a reproductive endocrinologist. I decide I will give it a few more months before going to see him. Right now I am doing herbs, Chinese herbs, lots of vitamins, acupuncture, Mayan abdominal massage, and chiropractic care. I want to give this every opportunity to happen naturally.

November 2006 - I get a full time job working with children who have experienced abuse. I get to use art in a therapeutic way. In many ways, the position is ideal. It turns out to be very stressful, heart-wrenching, chaotic, and sometimes traumatic. But I love working with the kids. Children really just continually amaze me. I feel so fortunate to get to see their hearts, their strength, and their spirits in full force every day. I am honest with my employer, telling them that I am trying to get pregnant and hope that I will be soon.

It has now been a year that we have been "trying".

We are officially qualified for the diagnosis of infertility.

(Ok....this is getting long and I need a breather.... I will start part II tomorrow. Stay tuned.)

Guess I gotta start somewhere right?

"The hardest thing about writing is telling the truth.
Maybe it's the hardest thing about being a woman too"
Sue Monk Kidd

SO, I made the decision over the last couple of weeks to start this blog charting our path through IVF. And even though I have been secretly composing posts in my head the thought of actually starting this is really daunting!

My first reason for starting a blog is that it has helped me tremendously to read what other bloggers have written about their own struggles and triumphs in the world of infertility, so I am hopeful that this will be encouraging to someone else as well.

My second reason is to help the people in our lives understand better what we are going through and how we are doing through all of this. I know this is a touchy subject and I know so many of you have really varied opinions about this treatment and I also know that some of you probably just don't know what to ask or how to be in this with us. So, here it is....I hope reading about the process will help you understand, help to answer some of your questions, and hopefully help you to celebrate with us when that wonderful day arrives and we are officially parents, one way or another. Wherever you stand on this, we welcome you to join us in this process and in this journey which is progressively leading us smack dab through uncertainty.

So let's get started shall we?