A new article has just come out about the effects of infertility in STEM fields – “Infertility and the Leaky Pipeline”. While the piece focuses on women in STEM the topics are broadly applicable. The authors have including links to lots of published papers on infertility and have created an amazing list of resources for people who are struggling to conceive, including how to get tax breaks, places that you can apply to for financial help and lists of grants and scholarships. It’s worth a read!
Guest blog by Avery Neal, MA, LPC.
Ever noticed that those struggling with infertility also frequently tend to suffer from anxiety? Perhaps you’ve experienced this first hand or have a close family member or friend you’ve watched go through this. Though there is no question that the standard hormone regimen that women face while undergoing treatment for infertility exacerbates mood shifts and can cause anxiety, there are some commonly experienced feelings associated with infertility that can easily lead to the development of anxiety.
From a psychological perspective, an ongoing sense of helplessness for a prolonged period of time causes us to experience anxious thoughts and feelings. Chronic helplessness results from the sense that no matter how hard we try; we may in fact be quite powerless in a situation that is beyond our control. This is particularly painful when the outcome is significant to us, as is the case when we desperately want a child.
In the case of infertility, there are many factors that are beyond our control, not the least of which is that our body may or may not be doing what we want it to do. No matter how much we will ourselves to get pregnant, the exact methodology that will result in a successful pregnancy and timing of it remains largely unknown on the front end of it.
So, what can we do to decrease anxious symptoms? Some points to consider:
- Have Fun. Enjoy the freedom that comes with having less responsibility. It doesn’t mean that you want a baby any less, but engaging in things that you enjoy will give you a break from the heaviness (and scheduling) that accompanies trying to get pregnant. It will also serve as a temporary distraction, making the time pass by infinitely faster. Make having fun a priority so that you don’t completely lose yourself in a process that can easily become all consuming.
- Stay Present. Make a conscious effort to live in the present moment, rather than succumbing to the temptation of living in the future. It is so easy to make everything revolve around waiting, but this only makes each minute feel long and excruciating. Try shifting your awareness to what you do have, and focus less on what you don’t. Take some time to visualize what you desire each day in great detail, holding those positive images in your mind. You can go back to those positive images any time worry begins to take over.
- Acknowledge your Feelings. Some days are going to be easy, some days will not. It’s okay to feel disappointed, angry, sad, and hopeless at times, and everything in between. Often the road to a successful pregnancy is not a straight one, and of course, you are going to have some feelings with each turn that it takes. This is completely understandable, so be gentle with yourself. Give yourself full permission to feel how you feel, unapologetically.
- Try Not to Get Too Isolated.
It’s easy to want to hibernate when we are sad. This is especially the case when we are facing a difficult time getting pregnant and it seems everyone else is posting an ultrasound photo or hosting a baby shower. If you need to protect yourself from this by getting off social media, for instance, listen to that need. It is important to protect yourself from things that make you feel worse. However, make sure that you are continuing to engage with your primary support system. Fight the temptation to become too isolated, which only feeds anxiety and depression.
The key to overcoming distress caused by an ongoing sense of powerlessness is to take charge of what we can. It may require a bit of thought, but thinking of various areas of our life where we can directly influence our experience, leaves us feeling much stronger and less helpless.
Avery Neal, MA, LPC is a practicing psychotherapist and writer. She specializes in depression and anxiety at all stages in a woman’s life. She has also worked extensively with women suffering from prenatal anxiety and postpartum depression in addition to helping women recovering from divorce and healing from emotional abuse. Avery is passionate about empowering women to discover their own inner strength, leading to higher self-esteem, confidence and overall life satisfaction. In 2012 she opened Women’s Therapy Clinic, which has locations in both The Woodlands, Texas and in Denver, Colorado. Her upcoming book is entitled “If He’s So Great, Why Do I Feel So Bad?”. To read more of Avery’s writing visit http://www.womenstherapyclinic.com/blog.
When confronted with raw emotion, unimaginable loss or desperate circumstances people often say nothing because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. As women (and men) who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and other difficult or tragic life events we have often been the recipients of well intended but thoughtless comments and we know the pain and hurt they can cause. But we also know that sincere and thoughtful messages can give us incredible hope and comfort.
I just stumbled (again) across this brilliant line of empathy cards. Take a second and read through them. Aren’t they wonderful? I wish someone had said these things to me. And I can think of 5 times off the top of my head where I wish I had these types of responses at the ready. So, let’s just all take a moment and read through these and commit some of these thoughts and sentiments to memory so that when we’re in the position to lend someone support or comfort during a difficult time we can do it with a touch more compassion and grace.
A great article came out recently on fitpregnancy.com called “You know your pregnant after infertility if.…”. It’s a cute little piece of light hilarity that really rings true to me. Here are the highlights.
… the thought of conceiving via sex sounds as quaint as making your own soap or lighting the house with a kerosene lamp.
… you’ve been taking prenatal vitamins since 2011.
… “you feel guilty posting any photos of your bump on social media because you don’t want to make other women struggling to become pregnant jealous.” (I would have said sad/hurt rather than jealous but whatevs.)
… your baby announcement is a jumble of acronyms: “After 2 years unexplained IF, 3 failed IUIs (all BFN), 2 IVFs with ICSI, we finally have our BFP!”
… nothing baby-related is bought until you’ve passed the 24-week mark.
… the notion of twins doesn’t even freak you out because at least that way you’ll get more for your money
And I would add –
…you always feel like a mommy “imposter”.
…you continue to pee on sticks well after the pregnancy is confined just to revel in the double lines.
…you’re hyperaware of how non-pregnant women look at you because you worry they might be having trouble conceiving and you know even seeing you makes them sad.
…you know the sex of the baby before the Dr. tells you because you have so much experience reading ultrasounds.
What would you add?
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the different reactions people have to infertility.
For me, I had a total existential crisis. It shook the foundation of my world. I had absolutely bought into the idea that if I tried hard enough I could accomplish anything, and for the most part that had been true for me. So the idea that I couldn’t have a baby, a thing that most people did with ease, shook me to the core. And then couple that with the want and the need and the desire to have a family… I was devastated.
Contrast that with my friend K. She was diagnosed with DOR and did IVF 3 times. She was disappointed each time that the cycle failed but she certainly wasn’t devastated. And after the 3rd failure she quickly and cheerfully moved on and she and her husband now have 2 beautiful daughters through adoption.
And then there’s G. She was diagnosed with PCOS and started the injections and the monitoring but firmly insisted throughout the process that what she was doing was not ANYTHING like what I had to do during my IVF cycles. This despite the fact that she was doing EXACTLY what I had to do, only without the retrieval and fertilization part. (Granted, that’s a big difference but still). She got pregnant and now has a lovely little girl. In retrospect, she admits that she didn’t want to admit that what we had to do was the same because IVF sounded so sad and broken and scary that she wanted to distance herself from the very idea of it, the very idea that she might need it.
And then there’s P. She and her husband tried to get pregnant for about 2 years. Then they sat down, had a heart to heart, and decided that if it happened that was ok and that if it didn’t that was ok too. She’s 43 and unlikely to get pregnant now and she’s totally ok with that. No crisis, no medical intervention, just acceptance.
Of course it’s totally natural and expected that everyone will have a different reaction and choose a different path. It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around because it was so difficult for me personally. I’m not really sure what my point is with this musing, except to highlight the fact that if you’re dealing with infertility whatever reaction you’re having is ok. It may feel like the world is ending but it may also not feel like a big deal. And that’s alright. What you’re feeling is valid and don’t you ever let anyone tell you it’s not.
One of the friends that I’ve referenced in this blog ended up having her own battle with infertility. After years of unsuccessful trying she finally went to see an RE. Turns out she had a hormone producing cyst that was interfering with her hormone levels and preventing conception. She and her doctor tried lots of different approaches and finally, after 2 years and on her 3rd and final IVF attempt she got pregnant with twins. She had a lovely and uneventful pregnancy and had her babies, a boy and a girl, last week at 35 weeks. Everyone was healthy, no NICU time despite her little girl being a tiny little thing. I couldn’t be happier for her!!
It’s funny though because it brings me right back to when my boys were tiny. Man, that was hard. Particularly after infertility, because every moment with tiny, needy humans isn’t magical and wonderful and I felt guilty for having moments of annoyance and exasperation because I knew all too well all of the women that would give anything to trade places with me.
Regardless of whether you got pregnant naturally and easily or through extensive medical intervention, motherhood is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s often thankless. Many of the hardest parts take place under the cover of darkness and are never witnessed or remembered by anyone but you.
There are days where I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done, and there are nights when I lie in bed and wonder how I will find the energy and the strength to get up and do it all again. And there are all of the moments in between where I wonder if I’m doing it right and where I know I could be doing it better. It’s so hard. So to my new mom friend – good luck. It’s going to be difficult but you are strong enough. You can do it. And to all of us who manage to pull it together and find the strength and courage to get out of bed every day and do what needs to be done – I commend us. We’re doing a good job. We’re not perfect. Some days we’re great, some days we’re just ok, but every single day we show up. We love our kids and we try hard. And we are good enough.
Recently, another mother of donor conceived twins commented on one of my posts, and her story was so moving to me that I wanted to share it with you (with her permission). In particular, it was a relief for me to hear from a mother who has both a bio child and donor conceived children, as that’s a perspective I’ll never have. I thought you all might like to hear another perspective from a mom who’s been there.
Thank you Kelly, for sharing your incredible story with us.
I have a biological son who is now 19; I had him when I was 22 with my first husband. I developed secondary infertility, possibly due to endometriosis or due to the severe thyroid problems I developed with my first son, or some combination thereof. The end result is that I was never able to get pregnant again.
My first husband and I eventually split, and my current husband and I eventually got married. We got engaged knowing that I had infertility issues and we stopped using any protection during the year of our engagement so that we could go into medical treatment right after our wedding (but always hoping for that happy OOPS! – clearly that never materialized). We started off with 3 months of Clomid – nothing. Then 3 rounds of Clomid assisted IUI’s – nothing. Then 4 rounds of OE IVF – nothing.
When we first started, I had initially said that I wouldn’t consider using donor eggs, that if we got through our OE IVF, we would call it good and move on. Except… I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up, and my husband, bless his heart, got right on board with it (the gut wrenching grief-from-the bottom-of my soul crying when we got the last negative call from the clinic may have made it an easy decision for him). We looked at both donor embryos (our clinic has an amazing embryo program with a money back guarantee if you don’t get pregnant in 3 attempts and has an 80% success rate) and donor eggs. However, my hubby really wanted that genetic connection, especially since I would still be carrying them. So, we moved forward with the DE.
I chose a donor purely on her physical attributes. I wanted someone with dark hair and eyes like me, and I wanted her to be tall, because I am really tall. I didn’t care about anything else, I just wanted to babies to at least be able to pass as mine. My husband’s sole request was that she be a proven donor.
Our fresh round failed, and at that point, I became convinced the issue was my uterus and not the eggs. I fell into a pretty heavy despair. My RE did a endometrial scratch, we did our transfer, and then I went back to work and promptly let it all go because I knew, without a doubt, that it would not work. Imagine my surprise when I got pregnant on that frozen round with our twin boys. I knew the very next day that something was different, but I refused to get my hopes up. I took a digital pregnancy test 8 days after the transfer and it immediately came up positive. It was so fast I didn’t even have time to pull my pants up. I literally set the test on the counter, stood up, and there it was – “PREGNANT”. At 11dp5dt my beta was 997, and my 2nd beta was over 2000. We knew we were having twins from that first test.
Having had a bio child and now 2 donor children, I am in a position to say that I don’t love my bio-son any more than I do my Twinks. They all came from me, and were all desperately wanted and loved.
As for looks…we got one who is my husband’s mini-me, from his looks to his temperament. And my husband and the donor both have dark hair, hubby has hazel-brown eyes, donor had brown eyes… and we got one baby who is blond and blue-eyed! We weren’t expecting that at all, lol. Everyone assumes he is a throwback to my dad’s side of the family as they are Danish and German and all fair and blue-eyed – people comment on it ALL THE TIME. To the point that I have given up reminding people that it can’t be possible, I just smile and nod my head and say thank you. However, I do like to think that my DNA turned those genes on and had some determination in their strong expression in him.
We registered on the donor sibling registry, and are in contact with the parent of one of our boy’s genetic half-sibling. It is only a couple of times a year, but it has been interesting. We are hoping to meet one day.
I don’t know how I feel about meeting the donor someday… conflicted, I suppose. I am so thankful for what she did… but I also have this fear of my boys wanting to get to know their donor. But, we decided before I even got pregnant that we would be honest with them from the get-go, and have books that we read to them (they are 17 months old) even now, and talk about it pretty openly in our house, with our family and friends. We have been very blessed that everyone in our lives was immediately open to and receptive of this idea, even people I thought were going to struggle with the idea. My family treats the boys just like they treated my older son.
It was a heart wrenching and long 3 year journey, but so worth it.
I love sharing my story with over DE moms so thank you for letting me do that.
I have a question for you, dear friends. Is infertility more common than it used to be, are we more open to discussing it, am I just at the age where this is something many of my “tribe” are dealing with, or all of the above?
When I had problems getting pregnant I was the first person I had ever met who had been to a reproductive endocrinologist. A friend put me in touch with someone she knew who had recently done IVF and so I used her doctor. And when I was going through procedure after procedure and failure after failure I was the only one. I was alone. (Except for the vast internet – thank you again, internet). I was scared and ashamed. I felt isolated and alone.
Now every time I turn around I find someone who is struggling to get pregnant. And they’re not always just talking to me about it because they know of my situation. And especially now that I have the twins, no one outside of my circle has reason to suspect I had issues with fertility. Seriously, I’m going to list out some of the people in my life that are dealing with infertility, because the number of people I know IRL that are dealing with these issues is shocking to me. And this isn’t an exhaustive list!
- My best friend from grad school was diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago. Successfully got pregnant after a regulated medicated cycle. (Age 33)
- My sister was diagnosed with DOR but just had her second “miracle” baby. (Age 34)
- My office mate from grad school’s wife had a recurrent hormone producing cyst on her ovary. Did 2 rounds of IVF and is currently pregnant with twins. (Age 36)
- Another friend from grad school was diagnosed with PCOS. Had 2 losses, and now has a 1 year old son as the result of Clomid. (Age 38)
- Found out yesterday that my college roommate has unexplained infertility. She successfully got pregnant after 2 rounds of Clomid. She wants another but her husband doesn’t want to go through the process again. (Age 39)
- My cross fit trainers wife has DOR. They did 3 rounds of IVF and were unsuccessful. They are now the parents of 2 little girls that they adopted. (Age 26)
- The lady that sat next to me on the plane last week had 5 rounds of IVF, 3 miscarriages, 1 living child.
- My boss and his wife were never able to conceive despite fertility treatments (see my post about that)
- Coworkers sister has been through multiple unspecified unsuccessful infertility treatments (more here)
- Two different acquaintances are currently undergoing infertility screening as they have each been trying for more than a year to get pregnant without success. (Age 32 and 33)
- My mom’s best friends middle daughter called me a few weeks ago because she’s starting her 3rd round of IVF and is (of course) terrified that it won’t work and they are considering donor eggs as a possible next step. (Age 28)
- A friend from high school has 2 kids, both conceived using IVF. She has unexplained infertility. (Age 34 at time of first IVF treatment)
It seems like every time I turn around there is someone else who is dealing with infertility. Is it just me? Am I more in tuned with it now? Or is it my age? We all know fertility decreases when you get older but age 35 isn’t a cliff you fall off of into infertility. Or maybe, just maybe, is the stigma associated with infertility lifting a little?
What do you think?
Mother’s Day. Gah.
The 13th worst day of the year. The other 12 days that were worse? The day my period started each month. The day that marked another failure. Another cycle gone. Another month of trying and wishing and hoping. In vain. Every single month.
Now that I have my boys Mother’s Day is bittersweet. My heart aches with joy at my blessings. My heart aches with pain at the knowledge that there are so many others out there that are still trying and wishing and hoping. So many others dreading this day. Dreading the 12 other worst days.
So for all of you out there still trying – I’m thinking of you. For all of you out there that have lost your babies – I’m thinking of you. For all of you out there that have lost your mamas – I’m thinking of you too. This can be a trying and painful day for so many reasons. Be strong. Be good to each other. I’m thinking of you.
I rarely think about the boys being the result of gamete donation. I mean, it’s always in the back of my mind, kind of like the never-ending piles of laundry are always on my mind, but not in any real way. And I’ve even started talking with people outside of my immediate friend group about their unique conception history. Progress! After all, they say when you can tell your story without tears you have healed.
And then out of left field – BAM!!!
My sister is pregnant again, naturally and unexpected. I’m thrilled for her, in the way you can only be thrilled for your sister. And I am unbelievably jealous of her, in the way you can only be jealous of your sister. She has the same diagnosis as me and she’s the same age I was when I started infertility treatments. And she’s pregnant. AGAIN.
I would never wish what I went through on anyone, especially my baby sister. But COME ON LIFE! Really? *sigh*
And then, she randomly sends me a picture of her at 16 months next to a picture of her 16 month old (naturally conceived) bio baby so that I can compare how much they look alike. I burst in to tears right there waiting for the bus at the park and ride. Couldn’t even try to hide it. Just sudden, huge, overwhelming sobs. (And I couldn’t go hide in my car and take a later bus. I had to stand there, sobbing, waiting for the last bus of the morning. I’m sure everyone at the bus stop thinks I’m completely nuts). Because I can’t do that. I can’t compare myself with my boys. There’s no point.
It’s such a natural human instinct to look for ourselves in our children. To search for the continuity of our genes through time. Maybe it’s hubris or vanity. But to me, the one who can’t ever see myself reflected in my child’s eyes, it seems like looking for yourself in the face of god. To see yourself in this tiny perfect being – to be privy to the melding of you and your mate – it seems like a miracle. And it’s those little things that are hard.
The big things are easy. I love my little guys. All day long, every day, strong and true. Unconditionally. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I am proud of my boys and happy and grateful to be their mama. But every time a stranger in the grocery store says “Oh how sweet, this one looks just like you! And this one must look like his daddy”, I think, “The joke’s on you lady! He doesn’t actually look like me at all” and then I have to smile and walk away quickly before the sense of loss brings tears to my eyes.
I think these feelings will start to fade too, eventually. And maybe one day that spot in my heart won’t be so sore. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some things can only be carried, but as my strength grows the burden feels less heavy. And in the meantime I will bask in the miracles that are my children, and thank the powers that be that I was strong enough and brave enough to do what was needed to bring them into this world.
Our donors egg retrieval is coming up (either Tues or Wed, depending on how her follicles look today) so it was time to put her gift basket together. I wanted it to be elegant, put together, thoughtful, sweet…. Nope, that’s just not how I roll! In the end though, I think it reflects me in all of my silly, crazy but well-intentioned glory. Frankly, I put in the things that I wanted after my egg retrieval, and then some other stuff just ’cause. In the end, this is what went in…
- The basket, obviously, with a silly flower wrapped around the handle (she has a small child, so I thought the silly stuff would be appreciated).
- Thanksgiving/fall themed kitchen towels as a liner, because tis the season.
- Super fluffy warm soft socks.
- A pumpkin scented candle.
- Relaxation tea.
- A jar filled with beauty stuff – nail polish, lotion, shower gel, eye mask, silly frog loofa, etc.
- A stuffed animal for her little boy.
- The Willow Tree “Thank You” angel.
- Chocolate! And chocolate chip cookies, Gatorade and Applesauce.
- And finally, a card that one of my closest friends painted for the donor. I’ve spent the last few nights mulling over what to say in it, and finally wrote it this morning.
Here’s what I said, more or less…
Words can never truly express how grateful we are for what you have done. We know what a commitment it is to go through the grueling process of injections and monitoring, and we understand all that you’ve had to endure to help us start our family. For several long years we have gone through one failed IVF cycle after another, desperately trying to have a baby. When we learned last Christmas that my ovaries had failed to the point where we could no longer use my eggs, my little sister offered to donate her eggs to us. Tragically, during the donor testing, ARMS discovered that she also has Diminished Ovarian Reserve and may never have children of her own. It seemed that our dream of holding our baby in our arms was slipping away. And then came you! You have given us the chance to become the parents that we know in our hearts we are meant to be. You are our angel of hope and grace, and although we can never repay your kindness and generosity, please know that we acknowledge how truly wonderful and special you are. Regardless of the outcome of this cycle, we cannot thank you enough for your selflessness. If we are lucky enough to have children as a result of your gift I know we will think of you often with love, wonder and appreciation. You will always have a special place in our hearts. Gratefully, the hopefully mom and dad to be
On the back – *Here are a few little things to help you relax after the retrieval. There is also an angel for you. Whenever you look at her, remember that you are our angel and that you are appreciated!
I’ve added some pictures of the basket and card. Let me know what you think, especially if you think we should add anything. We have a few days to make changes!
I really like this article – Present Tense
First, it talks about Hyperbole and a Half, which is my favoritest blog EVER. But the author is correct in saying that there’s something unsettling about reading people’s thoughts while they are truly right in the middle of whatever it is that they’re describing.
We’re more accustomed as readers to the memoir model, where depression — or addiction, or even ordinary anxiety [or infertility] — appears as a monster from the past, one against which you still have to bolt the door every day, but one that’s not there right now, not interfering with your writing about it, not writing about it with you….It’s very sterile and very misleading to hear about battles only from people who either have already won or at least have already experienced the stability of intermediate victories. It presents a false sense of how hard those battles are. It understates the perilous sense of being in the middle of them. It understates how scary they are…
Obvious, it makes me think of infertility and of my blog. And of your blogs. How we are all right in the middle of this and it’s huge and it’s scary and we don’t have the luxury of knowing how it it’ll turn out. But it’s also powerful. It’s real. It’s honest and raw. I’m proud of myself, and proud of all of you, for sharing your thoughts, your experiences, your pain, your victories – your JOURNEY.
“Oh my god!” I said. “What if this procreation thing works?”
We never thought to ask: What if it doesn’t?
Large sections of this essay (I Used an Egg Donor) resonated with me. Some didn’t – clearly I didn’t natural and quickly accept the idea of donor eggs like this women did – but overall I think this presents a light-hearted (as light as is possible with this heavy-assed topic) glimpse into DE IVF. I certainly love the quote below.
“When you’re busy playing hide-and-seek and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and scraping peas off the floor, the last thing you think about is your babies’ DNA.”
Do you ever feel like infertility is one big soap opera and every single step is a possible life changing plot twist? Me too.
You know how we found the perfect donor? Turns out she’s perfect except that she has NO follow through. I’ll spare you the details, but basically she never even filled out the paperwork, never mind coming in for doctors appointments or testing. So after 5+ weeks of waiting on tenter hooks for her to do SOMETHING we decided to pull the plug. After all, if she has cold feet now there’s no way she’s going to be up for the daily dildo cam and shots in the gut. So, our options were to choose someone else from The World Egg Bank or to cancel with them and be out $1000 (this is only an option if no testing has begun, otherwise you owe them the full amount of +$10,000).
Heart broken (again) I called the donor nurse at my clinic to ask for advice. Lo and behold the mythical red haired donor she’s been telling us about for months has passed all of her prescreening (ovarian assessment, paperwork, genetic history) and is up for grabs. Technically we’re on a rather lengthy waiting list for a donor through the clinic but given our arduous journey (2 medicated IUI’s, 3 IVF’s and a miscarriage), multiple setbacks (sister to donate eggs only to find out that she also has DOR; multiple issues with donors) and very specific donor characteristics (small stature, red hair) the clinic has put us at the front of the line for this particular donor. She has red hair, blue eyes, is 5’4″ and has a clean bill of health. The nurse says she’s mature, committed, vivacious and sweet. She kept talking about her “wonderful personality”. Of course, my husband immediately assumed she must be a troll, since in “man talk” a wonderful personality = not so cute. The nurse sent us her profile, which seemed great. We requested a picture, and I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for it to come. I got it this morning. And immediately I called and cancelled with The World Egg Bank and sent a message to the nurse that we want her.
She looks exactly like my mom.
Wed. morning I did something I’ve never done before. I cried so hard I vomited.
Our DE nurse called and told us the Donor Egg Bank didn’t do open donations (which I already knew), but somehow hearing it from her made it worse. She also seemed annoyed that I wanted to have an open donation, like it didn’t make sense to her and she didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. It pushed me over the edge, and I lost it. I just straight up lost my shit y’all. I started sobbing those big, deep, horrible sobs – the kind you think will break you in half or strangle you – and I just couldn’t stop. There has been so much – stress, pressure, expectation, hope, loss, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, exhaustion – that I just couldn’t carry it any longer. And my body quite literally purged itself of it.
I wish I could say that there was some kind of cathartic relief from that episode, like a weight has been lifted or my mind is suddenly free and clear, but that’s not really true. It felt good to cry, and it felt strangely good to acknowledge in a physical way the depth of my emotional pain, but I’m still pretty much in the same place I was before. No huge cognitive leaps or moments of clarity. It did, however, get me thinking about how far I’ve come and the things I’ve managed to overcome. Navigating infertility (and alllllllll of the things that go along with it) is like running a gauntlet in both your body and your soul. It’s hard and painful and desperately unfair. But so are a lot of things. This is my challenge, and this is my life. The conditions have been set and it’s up to me to stay the course.
Anyway, all of that reminded me of this song, especially this part
“I’ve been deep down in that darkness
I’ve been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons breathin’ fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled I’d fall right into the trap
That they were layin’
But the good news is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
Holdin’ out a hand to pull you back up on your feet”
Happy weekend to all of you, my angels.
Saturday was my 37th birthday. Low key, overall nice day. Sat night was my friends bachelorette party / my birthday party and we decided to go dancing with a group of girls. I didn’t know some of them as they were work friend’s of the girl getting married. So, we’re all introducing ourselves and one of the girls says to me “Is your hair real?”. I get this all the time. So I say “Yes. It was a gift from my mama.” She replies “You know, you could make a lot of money.” I get this all the time too – people telling me how much real hair red wigs go for. So I say “Yes, so I’ve heard.” But then she totally blindsided me and says “You should sell your eggs. I bet a ton of people who waited too long to have kids are dying for some eggs from red heads. I bet they’d pay thousands of dollars.” I stared at her with my mouth open. I couldn’t even believe what was happening. I mumbled some reply and walked away and she followed me still babbling about these sad old woman who couldn’t have babies that would buy my eggs.
As I’m getting into the car to go the club a friend of mine says “Can you believe the nerve of that girl? I mean, Jesus, what if you couldn’t have children or something? Can you imagine how that would make you feel?” Why yes, yes I can imagine EXACTLY how that would make me feel. It made me feel like shit. It made me feel ashamed. I wanted so bad to say to her “You know, I can’t have children, so I am one of those sad old woman who is looking for a red-haired egg donor right this minute and am going to buy her eggs for thousands of dollars, if I’m lucky. And thank you SO MUCH for reminding me of that ON MY BIRTHDAY.” But I didn’t. I hung my head and I ran away. And I’m ashamed of that too. It was an opportunity to educate someone on infertility and I was too weak/scared/sad/ashamed to stand up for myself. *sigh* Maybe one day I’ll be in a better place with this. But until then, universe, could you cut me some slack? Geez.
This is an excerpt from a blog by one of my favorite writers, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Although she’s clearly not talking about infertility her insight into denial and acceptance of physical limitations struck a cord with me. My condition (DOR) is beyond my control. It is my reality. I can continue to rail against it and waste precious time and energy or I can accept it (and the reality of the options that I have) and move forward. Anyway, I highlighted the parts I particularly liked.
As I do my morning prayers and meditation I am brought- once again!- into awareness of the vastness of what I do not control and how much energy I waste in denial of this. Oh, I get that I don’t control other people or the weather or many other changing conditions. But the place where I keep hurtling myself against a brick wall (and then wondering why I wake up covered in bruises) is around my desire to control how things impact me.
…this body-self has particular limits, limits that of course are not static and unchanging but never-the-less real….Insisting that my physical body can do what it can’t lands me in bed or at the medical clinic with some frustrated and bewildered doctor asking (voice volume just slightly shy of shouting) “What are you not getting about this? What can I say that will communicate to you that if you insist on doing what your body cannot you will end or housebound or bedbound or worse?”
What am I not getting? That although we have choices we are- I am- not in charge of a great deal.
So, once again I surrender to what is, accepting – albeit not as gracefully as I would have liked- my limitations in this moment. I accepted long ago that hang gliding and seventeen hour work days are not in the cards for me. With more difficulty, I recognize that there are very real limits to the assistance I can offer others right now, that they may be disappointed and angry or may not believe that these limits are real. I surrender to the possibility of being misunderstood or judged. Because I can’t control that either.
My favourite card in the Xultan Tarot deck is “Strength.” It’s an image of a cactus flowering in a pot. It reminds me that at any given moment we find ourselves in a particular “pot,” a set of of conditions that may be personal and specific to us or embedded in the reality we share, things that shape and limit available choices.
But there is nothing within the present moment limitations that stops us from flowering, from being all of who we are and offering what we are to the world. The form may be not as we had hoped or imagined, but unfolding and living from our essential beingness is always possible.
I want to use all that I am and all that I have for flowering. I don’t want to waste one bit of time or energy on denial of or fighting with present-moment limitations that are beyond my control. Because flowering, unfolding into the life we are given regardless of the ever-changing conditions, is what brings us joy. . . . is what heals the world. . . . is why we are here.
Oriah (c) 2013 (You can subscribe to Oriah’s weekly blog athttp://oriahsinvitation.blogspot.ca/)
I have always been and advocate of gay marriage. It seems ridiculous and presumptuous in the extreme for folks to try to interfere with two people they don’t even know who love each other. What difference does the color of their skin, their age (assuming they are consenting adults) or what’s between their legs make? Why is it anyone else’s business? Our genitalia do not define us.
So, I’ve been very interested in the court hearings of the last few days. And I’ve been watching the marching, the fund-raisers, the speeches etc. Now, I’ve often participated in these both to show my support to the cause and to support my LGBT friends. But watching over the last few days is different. I suddenly see an unexpected resemblance between their fight and my infertility fight.
I feel that my infertility struggle is extremely private and personal. And I have intense feelings of shame and guilt associated with it, even thought it’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to talk about not only because of those feelings but because it (implicitly or explicitly) involves my sex life, which is nobody’s business. I also feel like I’ve let my husband down, my family down. And there are intense feelings of anger because I can’t have what seems to be everyone else’s god given right – children. See the similarities yet?
I am only just now TRULY beginning to understand how hard it must be to come out. First, to have to quietly and privately accept that you are different from other people, even though it’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I imagine (especially in certain situations) there must be extreme amounts of guilt and shame, and the feeling that you’re letting your family down. And then you have to explain to people, talk about your sex life, and then stand by while they judge you. Judge you about something that isn’t any of their business. Judge you about something you have no control over. And then, after all of that, a bunch of strangers who don’t know you and have never met you tell you that you can’t have what is everyone else’s right – to marry the person you love. What a terrible, terrible affront. It’s criminal. Mindless, needless suffering.
And then I see these people on the news standing proudly and telling the world “Yes, I am gay. And I am worthy. And you are wrong for judging me just because I’m different.” They aren’t ashamed. They’re brave. I want to be like them. To be able to say “I am infertile but I am still worthwhile. I can’t have a child but that doesn’t make me any less of a woman.”
So keep fighting the good fight my friends. Know that you have love and support. And know that people are watching and being inspired by your bravery and self-acceptance. I certainly am.
I’ve been MIA for quite a while – sorry. I just needed a break from all of the IVF/infertility stuff. However, a lot has happened!
S and I went back to our local RE and had a hilarious conversation about what we wanted to do next. We told her about CCRM (she was appalled that they made us redo all of the tests she’d already done – bills are still coming in and we’re over $6000 now just from the ODWU) and that I wasn’t comfortable there and didn’t want to cycle with them. I launched into the back story of when my sister offered to donate her eggs and the conversation went something like this –
Me: “So, I was in the car with my sister and was telling her about CCRM.”
Me: “And I told her my AMH has dropped.”
Me: “And she said-“
Dr: “What did she say?!?”
Me”-that she would like to donate her eggs to us.”
Dr.: “YES!!!!! I’ve been waiting for you to say that since you walked in!!!”
So, she was thrilled, to say the least. Then we told her we wanted to try one more cycle with my eggs, if it looked like it could be viable (ie, if my AMH is >0.1 and my baseline ultrasound shows 4+ follicles). She readily agreed. We met with the donor egg nurse (who might just be the nicest person alive) and left feeling pretty good about things. What a change, walking out of that office feeling hopeful, or at least not in tears.
My sister has been in touch with DE nurse (she also loved her) and we are moving forward on that front. She is going to see an RE in her area to make sure she fits the criteria and that her reproductive bits are all in working order (Please universe, let her be ok – Not for my sake but for hers. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy and it would break my heart for my sister to have suffer it). We’ve booked flights for her and her fiancé to fly out here on their spring break (they live across the country) so that we can all go to the psychologist and so that my sister can get the final parts of her testing done.
I started my period yesterday (for the first time in years I was happy to see it arrive) and I go in day after tomorrow to get the verdict (in the form of an ultrasound with the blood work verdict being a day or 2 behind). Will we be able to move forward with one final IVF cycle using my eggs?
To be honest, either way is going to be tough. If it looks hopeless that’ll be the last nail in the coffin of me ever having my own biological children, and despite feeling prepared for that finality I know I’m not. It would be a huge, bitter pill to swallow. But, the thought of another failed IVF cycle, or worse – another miscarriage – is beyond daunting. And…. I feel like there might be some relief in just letting go – letting go of the expectations, the possibilities, the “what ifs”, the constant researching, the painful, unrealistic hope. I imagine it could be very freeing to just accept that I will never have biological children, mourn that, and move on to other possibilities. I feel that I have reached a point where the waiting and the not knowing and the limbo is so hard that I’d rather just have a verdict. And honestly, 4 months ago I could not have imagined feeling that.
You know what I think the difference is (besides time)? Choice. I feel I have a choice again, that I am in control of my life again. That is an offshoot of the incredible gift my sister offered me – she gave me an option I was comfortable with, and put the ball back in my court. I am no longer at the end of my rope, out of options, out of control. Not saying either of these options will work (OE or DE), but if they don’t I can imagine that there are more options. And I know that I could be open to them. One way or another, it will happen for me. I will make it work.
One of the brave ladies whose blogs I follow had some bad news today. Only 1/3 of the eggs they retrieved during this cycle were mature. She is understandably crushed and feels that she has reached the end of the road. Despite thousands of dollars of drugs and treatments, months of healthy living, and the highest level of medical intervention available she feels like pregnancy isn’t going to happen for her. I feel her pain. My feet are also on that road, and it is a sad, lonely, painful path to walk.
We spend so much time scouring blogs, boards and articles looking for hope – trying to find that one success story, trying to convince ourselves (and often succeeding) that we are the lucky ones, that it will happen for us. People answer your questions and are very supportive – “Keep trying!”, “Don’t give up!”, they say. That support is invaluable, but it’s also misleading.
A few months ago I posted a question on an infertility board and got lots of warm, friendly, supportive, positive replies. I felt good, better, even hopeful. And then a woman sent me a personal message. She told me that she had the same diagnoses as me and was a bit younger. She had basically the same response to meds. And she was going to use donor eggs. She urged me to open myself up to other options, because, as she said “it was very, very unlikely that I’d ever carry a pregnancy to term with my own eggs.” I was angry, hurt and confused. She’d burst my bubble. Where was the support? All those words that I wanted to hear? I didn’t want to hear that it wouldn’t work, I didn’t want to acknowledge that as a possibility.
Months have gone by since she wrote to me. Since then my AMH has dropped. I had a miscarriage and another unsuccessful Clomid cycle to add to my list of failures. My odds, which were never good, are in the toilet. So I wrote her back. I asked her questions. And I now trust her as someone who will tell me the truth. Not in a mean, hurtful or dismissive way (like my RE) but like someone who has been there. Like someone who walked this horrible road before me and understands the pain, frustration, and utter powerlessness that you feel. She found a way out of this terrible place. She recently gave birth to twins – a boy and girl – as a result of her DE cycle. She beat infertility. Not in the straightforward way we all wish for, but in a subterfuge – an undercover coup. She found the courage to accept a work-around, and she has 2 beautiful children and couldn’t care less where they came from. 2 souls now exist that didn’t before. Her arms and heart are full. She won.
Let me be very clear here – donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption – these options are not for everyone. It is an extremely personal choice. The point is that there is a choice. One of the most awful things about infertility is that your choice, the control of your own destiny, the control over your own body is taken away and no amount faith, karma, begging, wishing or believing can change that. But there are options. There are choices.
So, when my blog friend wrote how defeated she was feeling my first instinct was to comfort, reassure and sooth her. But I erased that response and tried to be honest, hoping that eventually she would find some comfort in that honesty and that it would help to make the road she’s on a little less frightening. I wanted her to know that even if her very worst fears come true (which is very possible) life won’t come crashing down. There is hope, but it may look entirely different than you thought it would.
I’m worn out. Beaten down. Defeated and dejected.
Infertility sucks. All of it. Start to finish.
I have to take a break; from the planning, the pills, the stress, the research, the constant worrying. I want one day – just one day – where I don’t feel this overwhelming sense of loss.
I want to watch TV without crying at baby food commercials. I want to sleep through the night without having stress dreams. I want to stop eating kale. I want to enjoy sex with my husband again. I want a damn cup of coffee.
I’m going to try to be as honest about this as I can, which is going to be hard because it doesn’t cast me in a very good light. I know the things I’m going to say will make me seem selfish and petty. And the truth is there are great parts to being a step-mother, lots and lots of wonderful parts. But so far there are no easy parts to being an infertile step-mother.
First, a little background. I met the girl who would become my step-daughter after her dad and I had been dating for 6 months. She was 4 1/2 then, and she’ll turn 8 this May. I truly do love her. She’s a good kid – bright, sweet, energetic and funny. Her mother has issues with drugs and alcohol and has recently been diagnosed with a (treatable) mental illness. She is very disruptive in our lives on a daily basis, even when we don’t have the child.
We discovered that I have DOR in April, and as of Dec my AMH has fallen to the point where it’s unlikely I’ll ever have children of my own.
Anyway, we have my stepdaughter every weekend as well as every holiday and all summer. Here are the problems –
- I know that she isn’t mine. Implicit in that is the fact that she could be removed from my life at any time, and I would have no recourse. To make matters worse her mother tells her things like “You don’t have to listen to her, she’s not your real family.”
- She hasn’t been raised the way I would raise a child. She is sweet by nature and that’s her saving grace, because she has been spoiled and babied by everyone in her life. When she is with us over the summer we have structure, routine and rules. However, rules are very difficult to keep when we only have her part-time, when her father is overwhelmed with guilt because of the divorce and thus caves to every demand, and when her mother tells her she “is a precious angel who never should have to lift a finger for her evil step-mother”. (Literally, she said that word for word) *eye roll*
- She is a constant reminder of all I want and can’t have, as well as a reminder that another woman (and a very difficult woman) was able to give my husband something that I never will be able to give him.
The first two points I can deal with. We’re working on her behavior (which is not her fault, she’s a child. It’s the fault of the adults in her life) and I’m working hard to build a relationship with her that will endure regardless. But I can’t get past point 3.
Some days are fine. And there are some days when I’m really low and feeling beaten down by the whole infertility process and I just can’t be around her. I see her and I’m angry and jealous and envious and sad. I’m angry because my husband doesn’t fully understand how hard it is for me because, as he says when he’s trying to comfort me, “He already has A”. I’m jealous that this hateful, mean, spiteful woman was able to have a child and I can’t. And she doesn’t nurture her, or protect her, or set a good example for her. She exposes her to dangerous people and situations. She uses her as a bargaining chip – self proclaimed “leverage” both with us and with all other involved parties (grandparents, aunts, etc). And I’m angry at myself, because here is a child in my life (and all I want is a child) and I can’t just be grateful. I want her to be enough, and she’s not. And that makes me feel like a terrible person. A hateful, mean, bitter person.
I do my best to never, by word or deed, let her know how I feel. I try to be understanding about my husbands guilt, her mother’s mental illness, the difficult situation we are all in. I try to be a good example, a good influence, a positive force in her life. I try to be gentle with myself – to allow myself the bad feelings for a time and then put them aside. And it wears me out. The honest to god truth, and perhaps the moral of this story, is that it is very difficult to care for someone else’s child when you’re mourning the loss of your own.
(This will be a rant. Many apologies. You’ve been warned.)
I have to go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I’m dreading it like the dentist. I like my in-laws and I usually enjoy visiting them – they live in a beautiful part of the country in a lovely home, they have fabulous wine and I can sleep as late as I want. This time, I would rather have the flu (the really bad kind where you don’t know which end to point at the toilet).
I don’t want to talk about my miscarriage. I don’t want to talk about trying, or what we’re going to do next. And I swear to god that if my mother-in-law tells me one more time “just relax and it’ll happen, my friends daughter blahblahblah” I will either kill her or myself. Relaxing will not help. It’s a medical condition. That’s why I see a damn doctor every day. That’s why I jam needles in my belly and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. That’s what this whole process is about. Trust me lady, if a massage, a movie and a cheap bottle of wine worked we’d be pregnant 10 times over by now. I’m really frickin happy that your friends daughter and her husband went on a damn cruise and got pregnant, but we can’t get pregnant that way and we’ve spent all our cruise money trying to do it the hard way.
And while I’m on my soap box rant I’d just like to add that no infertile person ever for any reason anywhere even once EVER needs to hear “Maybe you’re just not meant to have children.” Oh really? Maybe your dad should go off his high blood pressure medicine. Maybe he’s just not meant to live for very long. Am I destined to be such a bad parent that some divine force decided I can’t have children? Is that what happened? Well, thank you for clearing that up.
I know they mean well, and I try to respond politely (or I just walk away before I cry). But for just 5 minutes, here in the privacy of my own blog, I’m gonna be fucking pissed off about it. Because it sucks. Every day. It hurts. Every day. Have you suffered infertility (and not the “it took us sooooooooo long to get pregnant! 3 months!!” kind)? Then I welcome your opinion. Do you have a medical degree? Please, tell me what you have to say. If not, stick to some variation of “I’m sorry”, “What can I do to help you right now?”, “Are you doing ok?” or shut the hell up.
Rant over. (Except for the snarky lols below.)
I’ve done yoga for a long time but have stopped going over the last year or so – after all of the doctors appointments and meds there wasn’t much extra time or money. On the advice from my RE and for my own personal health and sanity I decided to make it a priority again and have gone several times in the last 2 weeks. However, I haven’t gone to my normal yoga studio but have been trying out my friends favorite places. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, try something new and spend some quality time with people I’ve been neglecting as a result of all the…well…all of…this. I did hot Bikram yoga (which was THE WORST THING EVER) and a yin flow class and then a beginners mediation/yin class. And I learned some things that I’d like to share.
First, tennis balls are excellent for massage. Also, yin flow is awesome for the body and the spirit. I highly recommend it. But anyway, while I was in one of the yin classes we were laying on our backs clearing our minds and focusing on our breathing. (It had been a hard day -2 of my acquaintances had babies the day before and my email was flooded with pictures. It made me feel like a bad person and a a bad friend that I was so upset and jealous as a result of their happiness, but I was.) So, I was laying on the floor thinking about my breathing and doing my best to clear my mind when it occurred to me – just breathe in……and breathe out. In and Out.
So many times in the past few months I’ve felt so shattered, and I’ve wondered how I will bear it. How will I handle telling my family? How will I bear their disappointment? How will I bear my husbands loss? How will I bear the idea (much less the reality) of not having children? I felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared (and possibly unable) to accept it. Maybe ever. I truly thought “I don’t know how to BE with this knowledge I don’t know how to begin to accept it.” But as I was laying there on the floor in yoga it hit me – all I have to do is keep breathing. Breathe in, breathe out. Not an epiphany for most, I know. But just the idea that I don’t have to DO anything – I don’t have to hide my sadness, or fix my “problem”, that I don’t have to have all of the answers right now or consider all of the alternatives, try all the medicines, go to all the doctors, read all the articles, make all of the life changing decisions – that as long as I just keep breathing in and out I will be ok, was profound to me. It was such a relief. It made me feel like maybe there was enough – enough time, enough energy, enough love, enough strength. And I felt that tight knot in the center of myself loosen a little bit.
I don’t believe that time heals all wounds, lord knows I have some old wounds that feel mighty fresh. But I do believe that we adjust – we change our reality, our expectations and our outlook. What we can’t overcome, we accept. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not yet ready to accept infertility and give up on having my own children, but I feel like … I don’t know. That I’ve found a little peace. That I’ve started to forgive myself some. That I’m coming to accept the idea that this could be my reality now, and that will be ok.
Well, I said at the beginning of this that I would share everything, so I may as well share what I’m up to now. But first a disclaimer – I know you’re not supposed to take medicine that isn’t prescribed to you (even herbs). My RE specifically told me not to take certain medicines and herbs (In fact she said the people that did were “Desperate people grasping at straws”). I am, at this point, knowingly and willingly choosing to ignore all that advice. I am also (without a doubt) a desperate person. And so.
S and I have decided to change clinics. We’re exploring the options but CCRM http://www.colocrm.com/ keeps rising to the top. After a little bit of searching I was able to unearth the “female cocktail” that Dr. Schoolcraft (from CCRM) prescribes to his DOR patients. I found a lady a year older then me with similar AMH and FSH numbers and I am going to follow her protocol – after all, the longer you’re on the herbs the better they’re supposed to work (to a point). So as of yesterday I’m taking…
2g Myo Inositol 2x/day, 200mg Co Enzyme 10 2x/day, 3mg Folic acid, 25mg DHEA 3x/day, 3g Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin D every other day. This is in addition to the preNatal vitamins and B-12 supplements I was already taking. *I got everything on Amazon but checked out what brands were best. Important to get MYO-inositol, and micronized DHEA (from what I’ve read, but I am not an authority).
Some of the journal articles about these meds are linked below.
Effect of the treatment with myo-inositol plus folic acid plus melatonin in comparison with a treatment with myo-inositol plus folic acid on oocyte quality and pregnancy outcome in IVF cycles. A prospective, clinical trialhttp://www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/780.pdf
List of publications about MI, FA and Melatonin (and Inofolic, which is a premix combo of these things) http://www.inofolic.it/drupal/?q=en/node/45
From the folks who began using DHEA for infertility http://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/dhea.html
And some warnings http://journals.lww.com/co-obgyn/Abstract/2012/06000/Does_dehydroepiandrosterone_have_any_benefit_in.4.aspx http://www.advancedfertility.com/blog/coenzyme-q10-and-fertility/
Maybe there’s something to it, maybe there’s not. But it’s better then doing nothing. And the Melatonin sure helps me sleep!
I have red hair. Very very red. New penny copper red. And for as long as I can remember people have been talking about it. When I was a little girl strangers would stop my mother in the grocery store to ask about it – “Did it run in our family? Did all of her children have red hair?”. As a teenager women would stop me in the mall (much to my mortification) and ask to cut a piece off for color matching at the salon. In college boys would always make snide remarks – “Does the carpet match the drapes?” or “Are redheads as feisty as people say?”. As an adult the comments continue, albeit in a less offensive way. My hair is my defining characteristic.
My sisters hair is dark auburn, if you want to make her mad say it’s brown. My mother has red hair. She’s the only one of her 4 siblings that has it – they all have dark brown hair. Her mother (my grandmother) had red hair and both of her sisters had brown hair. My great-grandmother was 1 of many, and she was the only one with red hair. You get the point. Since I can remember that’s the other thing people have always said to me – “You B.’s! Always a redheaded! Aren’t you excited to carry your family tradition forward?”. I was. Was being the operative word.
I am at a loss. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m at the point where if I continue I’ll feel (and seem to most people) desperate beyond reason, unable to recognize and accept the truth. But I’m not ready to give up. Not yet. We got pregnant, and on our first real try! Yes, that pregnancy failed, and yes that may have been due to poor egg quality, but it may not have been. Early miscarriages happen to many many many fertile women. All I need is that one healthy egg and a Dr. who will help us. Like Yomicfit said in her comment – I need someone who will fight for me and my future children (Thank you, Yomicfit, for your kind words and for sharing your story).
So I’m going to try all the stuff that my first RE said I shouldn’t do. “Dr, can we do anything to improve our chances?”, “Don’t smoke or drink caffeine.”, “Um, right, I know, but what about DHEA? I’ve read that it’s used in many fertility clinics on women with DOR to improve egg quality”, “No, definitely don’t do that. It’s unproven and it’s a hormone. You don’t want to mess around with your body chemistry.” (Side note-it was difficult not to laugh during that conversion. Don’t mess around with your body chemistry says the woman who prescribed me massive amounts of body chemistry altering hormones.) “Well Dr., what about that combination of melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol? I’ve read some studies that show that can help oocyte quality.”, “No, that’s extreme. If you want to feel like you’re doing something why don’t you get acupuncture. I don’t think it works but it certainly doesn’t hurt.” (You know what’s extreme? Jabbing yourself w needles 5 times a day – thats extreme. We’ve already crossed that line)
Now, I’m not a doctor (or at least, not that kind of doctor) so I’m not implying that I know better then her. Certainly reading a few journal articles and doing online research doesn’t qualify me to have much of an opinion. She’s been doing this a long time and has a lot of experience and knowledge. But it seems to me that if we’re willing to pay the price (financially, physically and mentally) shouldn’t she be open to alternative options, especially when they’re often used by other clinics? Perhaps she can’t support them in her official role but couldn’t she offer some kind of guidance rather then just “I’m sorry, we can no longer help you?”.
So, ok. I’m going to do acupuncture, and yoga. I’m also going to find a clinic that is more progressive and willing to try alternative actions that may help improve our chances. After all what’s it going to do, decrease my fertility? HA!
As we were leaving our appointment she told us to go see Dr. Schoolcraft, that she didn’t know what he did but he had success with difficult patients. Well I’ve read all about Dr. Schoolcraft now, exchanged messages with many of his previous and current patients. You know what he does (besides having the best lab in the world)? He tries new things. He has his patients who have run out of other options try alternative medicines. He prescribes DHEA, melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol. I am happy to be an experiment. If it will help me have a baby and/or help doctors learn more to help other people have babies then I’m in.
I don’t know if this stuff will work. But I don’t know how to stop trying either. I can’t let go of my vision of my life so easily. I won’t walk away just because one person told me it’s hopeless. It’s hopeless when I say it is, goddamnit!
We had the follow-up appointment with our RE yesterday. We were expecting some discussion about the miscarriage, a reassessment of protocol and a general good feeling – after all, we managed to get pregnant on our first complete IVF. That’s good right?
She told us she was sorry things didn’t work, I just wasn’t a good candidate for IVF and that unless I was ready to try donor eggs there wasn’t much else she could do for me. I was floored. Stunned. Crushed. I couldn’t even speak. S told her that wasn’t what we were expecting, we weren’t ready to give up yet, after all it was our first real IVF cycle. She said that, no, it was our 3rd cycle, I was a very poor responder and they couldn’t justify the risks of an egg retrieval and all the meds for so few follicles. She was very sorry and did we mind if she took this call from her daughter? She was clearly too busy to argue with us about my reproductive future. No time to discuss how all of my plans for children and a family, grandchildren for my mother, siblings for my step-daughter, were now in shambles. No time for that. As we were leaving she did mention that if we insisted on continuing we could see Dr. Schoolcraft at CCRM in Denver. That she didn’t know how he did it but he had some success with “difficult” patients. Apparently I am now a “difficult” patient, a “very poor responder”.
I’ve been crying for almost 20 straight hours. At noon today I had to pick myself up off the floor, wash my face and put on my big girl pants to go have a meeting with my Ph.D advisor. Walking around at work I felt like I had to hold myself very, very still. Like if I moved too fast I’d lose the tenuous hold I had on my self-control. It’s like I’m made of delicate Venetian glass and if I move too fast I’ll shatter into a thousand pieces.
I don’t know how to accept it. I don’t know how to bear this.
I never wanted a huge house. I never daydreamed about my wedding. I never worried about who I would marry. But I have been naming my children since I was 8 years old. I have imagined being pregnant a 1000 times. I have imagined what my babies would look like, how their fingers would be shaped, if they would have my smile. Since I met my husband I have spent at least some part of everyday daydreaming about our children – his nose with my hair? His height and my eyes? I have thought about what Christmas would be like, things I would do for birthdays. And now that’s just gone? Forever?
Would it be different if I hadn’t waited until I was 34 to start trying? Are my degrees, my career, worth not having kids? I didn’t realize that was the deal I was making. I thought I was being responsible, waiting til I was ready. What is the purpose of my life now? Work?
And my husband. Oh god my husband. Because he choose to be with me he will never have more children, which he desperately wants. Because he picked me his life is less.
I can’t give my parents grandchildren. I can’t give my husband a child. I will never have a real family of my own.
I feel like such a failure.