Category Archives: Infertility Related Mental Shit

Oh, So We’re Doing This…Again.

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7.57 beta HCG on 9DP 5DT.

Not negative.  But not really positive.  Probably a chemical.  Again.  I go back Tuesday for another draw to find out how it resolves, but I’ve been down this road.  I know how this goes.

So, I’ve cried a little.  But I’m at work, so only a little.  And I emailed my trainer to set up a workout for Monday morning.  We’ll do a light workout, just in case.  No regrets, and all.  But, I know how this story ends.  

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Just a Little Anxiety….

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First off, I have lost 45 pounds this year.  BAM!  Party for me!

Second, we are on our way to frozen embryo transfer.  Our donated embryo from Boston is days away from reaching it’s new cryo-tank home in California.  It should be here within the week. That’s not exactly step one, there have been a LOT of steps to get to that point.  But, it’s a big milestone in this process.  I’ve been super relaxed and focused on other things, which is a great mental approach to this all.  I am thoroughly invested, but I have a more healthy attachment to the process than in the past – less desperate, more hopeful.

But, last night I could tell some anxiety started creeping in.  I dreamed that my friend sent me a picture of the embryo – the kind the clinic takes with their microscope.  And that was cool.  But then,  the dream shifted and the clinic that currently has the embryo decided to thaw it to check on it before they shipped it.  Their plan was to thaw it, check it’s viability for 24 hours, then re-vitrify it and ship it to my clinic.  But they didn’t tell us this, they just did it.  And so, out of the blue I got an email from my friends who are donating the embryo, and they said the clinic had just called and the embryo had regressed to the morula stage and was not likely to survive being re-frozen.  And then she explained using a very long equation that looked somewhat like this: 2(x-y)= 46(z-y)/(x-z)*10<46x(y+zx)  and on and on for like 7 full lines.  I could not understand, and didn’t much care, about the math-iness of it.  All I cared about was no more embryo because some dumb ass decided to thaw it when they shouldn’t have.  My friend felt bad and wished the clinic had told her they were going to do it, too, so she could have stopped them.  And then I woke up.   So, yes, I suppose underneath my collected outer demeanor, I have a nervous streak building about this.

I’m already in the process of prepping my body for the transfer.  I have had a batch of bloodwork, a saline contrast ultrasound to make sure my uterus looks pretty enough, and an endometrial scratching procedure.  I wasn’t actually prepared to have that done even though I asked for it, because the most recent information I had was that the doctor doesn’t do that procedure because he doesn’t think there is enough science behind it.  I knew my nurse was advocating for me though, and that she had done them before with another doctor in the practice, I just didn’t know it had been resolved.  So, both were done – and the saline contrast ultrasound was just a little pinchy, but otherwise just fine.  The scratching, however, that one hurt.  I’ll take “Things I Don’t Want to Hear My RE say for $1,000, please”  – “This catheter is thicker and more rigid than the ones we usually use for other procedures and it’s getting stuck on the ridges of your cervix when I try to push it in.”  Yeah, I could feel all of that.  I did need to go home and take a pain pill and sleep it off – it left me not feeling so great. But, it’s over and I’m fine.  I’ve never done PIO shots, and I am going to do them this cycle – I’m guessing they are going to be WAY worse than the scratching was.

At the RE office there were many jokes by the nurses about the baby being born with a Boston accent and a Red Sox jersey… I’ve been through too much in the past to let myself actually think of this as actually being a baby at some point, so that was a little mentally jarring.   I mean, I know that’s the desired outcome here, but we still have miles to go before we get there, and I haven’t been able to make it through all of those miles in the past and get one of these to actually turn into a baby, so I’m hesitant.  And self protective.  And I don’t count my chickens…errrr, frozen embryos…before they hatch.  Or something like that.

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I keep thinking about this journey, and the reality that it is almost over is an incredibly hard pill to swallow.  I have days where it seems easier, but every time I am confronted with the reality of it, I freak out.  I mean, this is a life changing decision.  Everything, everything I have ever hoped for, planned for, and wanted – changes with this being over.

I have career goals, of course, but at this point in my life, those are secondary and really insignificant compared to this.  My plan has always been to position myself professionally during these years so that when my kids were grown and out of the house, I would be ready to take over the world.   And I think I am on the right path for that.  But these years – these years were for family.  And more of it than I have now.

This changes my vision, and expectation, and experience for what my life will be like.  For what my kid’s life will be like.  I have never wanted only one child – I have always wanted, and knew I would have, at least two and maybe more.  And yet, here we are – this idea and vision of my life that I’ve had since I was a kid is crumbling right in front of me.  You walk your path, and mine is being washed away in front of me as I go.  So, I am feeling lost.

This is not a crossroads.  There are not clear ways to proceed, there are not defined paths to choose.  This is my identity.  This means I have to remake myself, remake my life plans, remake so many of the things I know about myself.  And how do you get OK with not fulfilling something that feels like such a fundamental and core part of who you are and have always been?

Look, I know it’s easier for me than for people who have not been graced with kids at all, but who desperately want them.  I am grateful every single day for every ounce of joy, frustration, laughter, exhaustion, curiousity, and everything else that I have because of my son.  Grateful beyond belief.  Frankly, he seems like a bit of a miracle.  As I have gone through all of the losses and failed cycles, it has put this feeling of awe into me that he ever happened.  It has made me understand what a fragile process this can all be, and how lucky we are that things happened just right to bring him into the world.

Back to identity – I don’t necessarily understand who I am as an adult, right now, if we put this behind us and move forward without this working.  In my 20’s it was all about preparing my life and getting pregnant, and then it was about raising a baby and getting pregnant again because that’s what was next.  And then that turned into 2.5 years of trying to get pregnant.  And it consumes you.  Injections, patches, suppositories, ultrasounds, pee sticks, and more injections.  The ups, the downs – I’ve been on hormones of one variety or another for over 2 years.  Everything has been about building a family up to this point in my adult life.

I always thought I would know when it was time to move forward because my family would be complete and I would feel whole.   I had no idea that was a fairy tale ending.  I had no idea that I was going to have to figure out that it was time to move forward because I was hollow and broken into a thousand pieces.  I guess it’s hard to go forward when you have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to put them together first.

This is my pity party.  I will stop having my pity party in the coming few days, but for now, I am sad, stressed, apprehensive, uncertain and just blah.  And I think I just need to be these things before I get on gettin’ on.

Lean Into It

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I’ve reached the end of the road financially, in terms of having choices in how we pursue IF treatment.  After 2 rounds of IVF, 8 IUIs, and 4 FETs – I am almost out of money.  And there are no other sources I can tap.  I would really love to do one more round of IVF with our last vial of sperm, but there’s just no more money.  I’ve been looking for IVF grants and such, but there’s nothing that will work for us.  I suppose I have to be resigned to one more IUI and then we will really be out of money.

I’m going to my regular doctor tomorrow to get the referral I need for my second opinion appointment at the other clinic on the 18th.  I doubt there will be anything else they can say or do.  I will ask my RE about endometriosis this time, but I am otherwise at a loss.  I don’t have any more ideas, or theories, or solutions.

This morning when I tested, I was using my son’s bathroom.  And I swore I saw a VERY light line.  I held it in several different positions and I still saw the line – I mean it was SO light, I thought my mind could be playing tricks on me.  So I took it into the other bathroom to look and made The Wife check it.  She saw no line.  And when I looked at it in that light, there was no line.  That was annoying – I didn’t expect to see anything and then there was just the slightest hint of something and then there was nothing.

I have a distant friend who is dealing with some hardship in her family right now.  And she’s also on a life changing fitness journey.  She posts periodic videos documenting her journey – the good and the bad.  Her latest video is here: 

One of the things she talks about in this video is emotional eating.  She is working on conquering that battle, and as such is learning to lean into the pain instead of trying to mask it with food.  Although I often don’t recognize it, I have the same problem with emotional eating.  It struck me in the shower this morning, as I was struggling with the negative test results, the fact that we are pretty much out of money for another IVF, and the idea that we might really only have one IUI left and then it’s over – that emotional eating is a big thing for me.

But, I think the hypnosis might be helping a bit.   I realized that I usually do use food – sugar, in particular, to help soothe my nerves and mask the pain of all of this.  But as I was thinking about it today, I realized that I don’t actually have the craving or inclination to do that today – but I also don’t know what to do instead.  Sugar is like lidocaine for those raw feelings.  And without my lidocaine, how do I deal with that?

Which is what brought me back to Cynthia’s video – lean into the pain.  I’m not sure I know exactly what that means, but if I can’t run from it, and I can’t lidocaine it with sugar, what other choice is there, really?

I wanted to run through it this morning, to just run – run it out of my head.  Get my frustration out, exhaust myself – run until I cried.   Maybe that’s leaning into it?  I don’t know – a freak AM thunderstorm kept me from getting outside, so I’m just sitting with it today trying to figure out what to do with it.

 

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Ok, I’ve been IUI’d.  I’ve had many of these, but this one was a bit uncomfortable.  And as usual, I have my incredibly painful ovulation, so I know I ovulated.  I can’t generally move much for at least 24 hours after I ovulate.  So, eggs released, good sperm count put in.  Now we wait.  The hypnotherapist says I should think frequently, “I intend that this will be the time that I get pregnant.”  She’s pretty experienced in working with people dealing with fertility challenges.  She posits that the pessimism and lack of hope that comes with being this far along in the process, can be detrimental, and this type of mental mantra allows you to redirect your thought process without trying to manufacture some false sense of hope or optimism.  Ok, well, no harm, I can do this.  Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t…but it surely doesn’t hurt.

I was thinking a little more about hypnotherapy today.  I like that I don’t have to sit there and talk and deal with my shit with someone.  This just gets right in there and tries to solve shit by altering thinking patterns to change behavior.  There’s something kind of nice about that.

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This is the new plan.  We had to time this to work around a vacation we have planned in June, so it got backed up a few weeks.  I guess after 2 years, a few weeks is neither here nor there.  I am on BCP for several weeks.  Baseline on June 5.  Start Lupron on June 10.  Start Gonal-F on June 17.  Follicle check on June 25.  From there, we will trigger and do a Day 6 frozen transfer of donated embryos.  I plan to also use endometrin for luteal phase support.

Why not?  We’ve never tried doing it this way…and I would guess that most people don’t because injectibles aren’t cheap.  But, if it could work, we’re trying.

I hate waiting to start cycles.  HATE it.  But, I don’t think it would hurt to have a few weeks off.  Mentally.  I am exhausted.  I mostly want to crawl into a dark hole and just stay there until I could come out and everything would be fixed.  We would rewind the last 2 years, and I would not be so broken.

That’s the thing that gets so hard sometimes.  I see that I am just a shadow of who I used to be.  All of that energy and excitement I had for life is gone.  I used to love to travel, to take risks, to explore and have incredible experiences.  Now, I would really love to just lie on the couch in silence.  I don’t like who I have become through this process.  I don’t like how hard it is just to get out of bed everyday.  I don’t like that I can’t seem to find real, long term hope anymore.  There’s nothing else to grab onto, to hold onto – I feel like I am constantly just scrambling for a temporary foothold – with the hope that this is finally going to be the one that doesn’t crumble out from under me.

I’m melancholy.  And it sucks.  Maybe the next few weeks of nothing fertility related will give me a chance to work through some of this.

This is the new…

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I made it through Mother’s Day.  It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun, but I did it.

When my son was born, I had never given a thought to Mother’s Day – it just wasn’t relevant.  And then my first Mother’s Day rolled around and I wanted it to be special.  I wanted it to mean something on Mother’s Day that I had carried and birthed this baby.  But, I realized that my kid has 2 moms, so in our house, it’s pretty meaningless.  Nobody gets the day off, nobody gets treated special, it’s all run of the mill – because with two of us, how do you chose who gets celebrated?  She’s just as much his mom as I am – regardless of who birthed him.  I had a really, really hard time with it that first year.  I wanted it to be something special and meaningful for me and it wasn’t.

The second year I was a little better prepared mentally and I was used to the idea that Mother’s Day wasn’t going to be anything special and it wasn’t going to be meaningful.  I came to accept that I was just going to have to give up on that day being anything more than just any other day.  And I was trying to get ok with that.

And then 2 years ago, on Mother’s Day, I had my first miscarriage.  So a day that was already tense and challenging for me, became a day that was unbearable and heartbreaking.  Last year, this year – I forget how much Mother’s Day triggers me, but this year it was a very bad day.  I cried on and off all day – I was clearly miserable.  I tried to stay cheerful by staying busy.  I took my son to the park, went shopping, made breakfast for my Mother-in-Law…but it was all littered with tears.

But now it’s over, and I survived.

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I seem to have pulled myself back together.  I have taken some time to sit with this and let it sink in, for what it is.  It’s not our last chance and it’s not the end of the world.  As we approach the end of our supplies (vials of sperm and frozen embryos), for lack of a better term, I had planned for this to be the end of the road.  It felt like a nice clean place to stop.  But I am not sure I am going to be able to stop.  The thought that brings me solace is that we can buy a few vials of sperm and try again, with a different donor.  2 years ago THAT seemed like the end of the world, but a lot can change in 2 years.  I think it hit so hard because this was our last vial of sperm and that really was the last attempt for a full genetic sibling.  So, it was bigger and more meaningful than other cycles – and so I lost it because of what it meant when it failed.  But, life is not over.  It is not the end of the world.  And I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday (who also happens to be a co-worker), and we talked, and I cried.  She asked how much longer I think I will go, and I told her I don’t know.  She said that she’s worried that this is going to break me, and she hopes that I take care of myself.  I told her I thought it was too late for that.  I don’t think you can ever go back.  I think I am about 6 months past broken.  I love her for having the courage and understanding to say it to me, though.  Good friends say the things that you don’t really want to hear in addition to the things you DO want to hear.   And although her situation was so different, I know that she understands this need to have another child, the desperation when you think it isn’t going to happen, etc.  She gets it.

I am working with my clinic to plan my next cycle now.  We have 2 donated frozen embryos left.  They are day 6 hatching blasts.  This FET will be different from the others.  At my request, we are going to do a mock cycle.  I believe that my body responds better to natural hormones than all synthetic, so I want natural hormones in my system this time.  So, we will use a low dose of gonal-f to stimulate some follicles, trigger so I ovulate, use endometrin for LP support, and do the transfer 6 DPO.  The eggs that I ovulate will be throw aways, we just need the follicles to develop the lining and for progesterone after I ovulate.   It’s unorthodox, but I figure if they do FET with natural cycles, why not with a mock cycle to achieve the same outcome?  My gut feeling is that my body will respond better.

I am also concerned that my period has been so short.  2 Days and it’s over.  The last several cycles have been this way.  I feel like something is wrong there.  I meant to ask when the nurse called, but I forgot.  She’s supposed to call me back, so maybe I will ask then.

Inadequate is Best

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We haven’t told very many people about our infertility struggles.  It’s awkward and uncomfortable and really, there’s not much anyone can say, so why bother putting people through that?  But we have told some people along the way and recently I have told more.  A fairly universal response seems to be, “Well, at least you have your son and he’s one of the greatest kids ever.  I bet this makes you love him even more.”

I know people are trying to be supportive and there’s really nothing to say other than, “Wow, this sucks.” And that somehow seems inadequate.  I get it.  But, I sort of resent the idea that I could possibly love my son any more and that he somehow makes it easier to not be able to get pregnant.  It took a lot of time and work to get him, too.

What I can say is that I am tremendously lucky to have overcome this once.  And I DO have an incredible kid.  And somehow, I do think that makes it a little easier for me than for people who haven’t had a child at all.  So, yes, if we are comparing, I am more fortunate than some and I never forget that.

But I do really cringe at the thought that I could possibly love my son more, or appreciate him more, just because I can’t have another baby.  As if he were somehow replaceable.    Or as if I only mostly loved him and had a little bucket of love I was reserving for some unborn child that I was withholding from my son.  But, now that it looks like I won’t be able to have another one, I can go ahead and empty that bucket and give him that love, too.  Or maybe it’s about appreciating him.  And people want to point out that he’s a great kid and he should and could be “enough” for me.

I DO already have a great kid, and I don’t want him to grow up alone and be alone having to deal with us when we are old, and be alone when we die – oh trust me, my quest for another child is for him as much as it is for me.  He will make friends, he will likely fall in love with someone, and have whatever kind of family (or not), that he chooses.  He’s social – my guess is that he will have a large chosen family surrounding him for most of his life.  But even if you don’t get along, siblings are irreplaceable.  You share a lifetime of experience and you take that with you into the world.  You can roll your eyes together at your parent’s quirks.  You can text ridiculous inside jokes from 20 years ago.  You will have someone who gets it…someone who you love, even if you don’t like.  Someone who will, in most instances, eventually forgive you even your worst behavior and still be there for you.

A note to folks out there in the impossible position of trying to find something comforting to say to folks like me:  Do not try to have us take comfort in the fact that we already have a great kid.  We KNOW we have great kids.  And having them does not make it hurt less.  It does not make losing a baby/pregnancy any easier.  It does not make the rounds and rounds of hormones and injections and mood swings and encounters with “the wand” and the waiting and the roller coaster of good and bad news – any less stressful or emotional.

Just say, “Wow, that sucks.  I’m really sorry you are going through this.”  As inadequate as it may seem – it’s all there is.

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Today is a strange day.  I’m feeling kind of raw and vulnerable.  And that’s not normal for me.  Actually, most people would never, ever use the word vulnerable to describe me because I work very hard to make sure that most people don’t see that side of me.

But today I just feel really exposed.  It’s coming straight from the core.  I feel like I have no secrets from the world  and everyone can just see all of the guilt and pain and disappointment and hopelessness that I am carrying around.  It’s really throwing me off – the only place I ever feel like this is in the shrink’s office, when I intentionally let down the armor and force myself to expose all of this and try to deal with it.

The day didn’t start like this, it started fine.  It was an ultimately insignificant work situation that brought this all crashing down.  I have been working with a corporate partner to develop and implement a very cool new idea.  That partner emailed me this morning and showed me how she had shared that idea with another organization and how they had implemented it and isn’t it great.  MY idea.  MY MY MY idea.  She gave to a pseudo-competitor, who was able to implement it publicly before I had the resources to do so.  And she is a trusted partner, so I think I felt like she had somehow violated our friendship and our corporate relationship.  Ultimately, it’s insignificant.  This particular idea isn’t life altering for anyone, it was just a cool little innovation.  It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

But that’s all it took to push me over the edge.  That’s what it took for my carefully constructed facade of strength and cheer – my house of cards – to come crashing down.  I don’t even feel like crying, I just want to be in my own bed, under my comforter, where I feel safe.