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.