Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Stay Sane When Infertility Flips You the Bird

I have been struggling with what post to write next. It hasn't even been a week since we received our bad news on our first ever DE IVF, and so I'm not exactly all sunshine and rainbows. It feels like it has rained nearly nonstop since our bad news, which in a way makes me feel like even the sky is crying over the injustice of it all. This particular cycle had so much going for it. I had so much time to relax and take it easy. I was kind to myself in every possible way. I was coffee free, alcohol free, dutifully downing my prenatal vitamins, baby aspirin, fish oil, vitamin D. I had wheatgrass juice several times a week. I ate fresh organic fruits and veggies and switched my dairy to full fat. I kept straight the estrogen patches and the lovely not-oral administration of the estrace pills (interesting tidbit--the real deal is turquoise, while the generic is periwinkle...both pretty colors but still disturbing when seen in the nether regions), I did all my progesterone shots and suppositories. I felt like I was stuffing myself like a Thanksgiving turkey full of medications that would make these miracle embryos stay. We had a fabulous donor with a great track record that we have now screwed up. We had everything going for us, and it didn't work. As so many people have said to me, it is bad luck.

How am I doing, now that enough days have passed that I am probably not as raw as I could be?

I am...ok, actually. I had a plan when we went into the DE IVF. That plan was that we would absolutely plan for having to do a frozen as soon as possible right after our fresh cycle if it failed. We weren't planning for failure; we would absolutely have loved to be spending the frozen money on a summer vacation or maternity clothing splurge, but that wasn't what happened. So as much as I am furious and upset and dulled by the fact that our DE IVF didn't work the first time, I have a second time to look forward to that isn't far in the future. I have no idea when it will be, because our consultation is in a couple of weeks, but it will be as soon as possible with no waiting because we planned for it.

Planning is part of what keeps me sane. I need a plan. I am partway there, because I was able to go on the Pill with this lovely failed period (just imagine what this must be like when I've worked so hard to have a nice, plush lining...), which saves me some time before we can start the FET. I have a date for the consultation, and hopefully that meeting will give us the next very important date. Because I need those dates to stay sane. I need something to look forward to. I need medication schedules and timetables.

But I also need a change. Even if it is a bitty one. I have been gathering information and will be presenting it at my consultation. I am not expecting for them to tell us that it's all over, that this didn't work the first time and so it's not worth it to do the frozens. I am also not expecting them to tell us that they have magical answers for what to do next time. So I am coming prepared with some suggestions, and some research-based reasoning for why I think these are good suggestions. To stay sane, I need to be an active participant in my plan. I am not a medical expert, I don't have a medical degree and I certainly am no RE. But I do think that I have gathered quite a bit of knowledge by proxy and I would like to ask a lot of questions and have honest answers as to why or why not something could be a good idea. Because we are at a loss. Could we have just been unlucky? Maybe. Could I need something extra? Could there be an extra piece that could be added in to make things a little more likely to work? Possibly. It doesn't hurt to gather and ask.

This is my time to be crazy and remove the restrictions that I've had since getting into this cycle. Which is interesting, because everything that I did is because it's good for my body, but none of it affects my uterus directly. Alcohol and caffeine consumption are known to have affects on gametes like sperm and eggs. But on a pear-shaped organ that holds the precious cargo? Not so much. (Please, please correct me if I'm wrong here.) But because I want optimal conditions for implantation, I cut those things out completely. I'm giving myself two weeks to put them back in, and originally I was like, "Bring on the bender! I am PISSED that nothing made a difference!" But, maybe my FET will be sooner than later. So I had quite a few cocktails on Negative Day but then have been relatively tame since. Well, there was the night we watched Argo and had two bottles of wine between the two of us, but big whoop-de-doo. I am enjoying some wine and I love the return of my morning coffee, but it will be pretty easy to give them up again. (See, this is why I need dates again, because I don't know how long I have to enjoy myself first with abandon and then more sporadically.) Usually I stop taking my vitamins for a little while, especially since it pisses me off so much that I have been taking prenatal vitamins for four years. My hair and nails should be just AWESOME. It is not a good consolation prize. Especially since my nails are short and caked in dirt since it's gardening season, so if anything it irritates me that they grow so fast. I quit my vitamins for a day and then went back on. Because I am hoping that this mini break is so brief it barely qualifies.

Things are exploding now...Echinacea,
stella d'oro daylilies, delphinium,
balloonflower, daisies, yarrow,
scabiosa, thrift, mallow, lavender,
Russian sage, mini hollyhocks
The butterfly garden, filling in and
in bloom
I have been gardening, and shamelessly posting a billion pictures up on Facebook of my garden. I post new pictures nearly weekly. And you know why? Because all of my energy is going into these plants now that I can't put it into growing something inside of me. I can't seem to make babies, but I can grow some beautiful beds that are surviving our torrential rains pretty well. I feel like (and this is me being sensitive possibly) people are like, "enough with the pictures of your gardens!" I don't post them daily, I post them when there's a change. Kind of like all of those pictures of adorable children in different outfits and wearing the month-birthday onesies. And the ultrasounds, although thankfully my feed has been pretty blissfully free of those for a while (it won't last, I'm sure). You post these pictures because you are proud of your cute kids and the growth of your babies. Well, I'm proud of the botanical babies that I've nurtured and cared for, and that's why I do it. It's proof I can grow something that will thrive. It's proof that I am fertile outside of my body, outside of my house (still can't grow a houseplant to save my life). I hope that will change and I can be just as fertile inside, but for now it's what I've got.
My backyard shade garden,
a little blurry. Hostas, cranesbill, astilbe
My monarda (bee balm), with buds for
the first time. These will be lovely
bright spidery looking things.

I am not off of Facebook, but I am a speed scroller. I go really fast past babies and pregnant people. I "like," but I don't comment. If you comment then your notifications blow up with everyone else's comments, which for births and birthdays and pregnancy related posts are just too painful to see. I don't need my phone to scream at me that everyone else is enjoying the family life while Bryce and I are left behind, again. Please do not misconstrue this. I like updates. I am happy for new babies. I am happy for birthdays and milestones and holidays. It is just so painful for me to be bombarded with them when we just can't seem to make this happen, not yet anyway. I could easily get off Facebook, but I like to be connected. I can be around kids, but not kid-centric places. I love playing with other people's children. But please, please don't ask me to go to a park or meet up with a bunch of people with kids or go to the zoo or the children's museum. I don't even think I could go to The Barn Owl right now because it just reminds me that I DON'T HAVE ANYONE OF MY OWN TO TAKE THERE. That Bryce and I would again be the creepy childless people, hopefully trolling places that are family-friendly like we're previewing what this must be like, but then tearing up and needing to run out. I actually get panicked in situations like that. I act unpredictably. Ask my friend who went with me to a farmer's market on Sunday. I was fine, and then I started bobbing and weaving and avoiding the many, MANY pregnant people and strollers and slings that were everywhere. Maybe I should have just sat down on the pavement and absorbed it all. Maybe I would have left miraculously pregnant. Instead I developed tunnel vision and an intense interest in fernleaf dill and cream-top yogurt. So, please don't be offended if I can't come to an event or I have to leave a situation quickly that is causing me to be upset. I am grieving, and the last thing you want is to have me fall spectacularly apart in the middle of an outing or a party or whatever. Avoidance is my friend right now.

I am trying to get myself in shape (again, again, againagain). Fertility has done a number on me. I used to be so good at losing weight between cycles, and then it just stopped happening. I am not happy with myself right now. But, at the same time, I cannot do strenuous exercise and risk messing up my cycle. (Which is really funny since my cycle is plenty messed up on its own and it has nothing to do with my weight.) I am not ridiculously heavy. I'm not even at the heaviest I've ever been, not even close. I am a size 12, and I'm 5'6", and I'm well endowed in the bustular area, something that does not change when I do lose weight. If anything I look better when I am a little overweight, because I have something to balance out those ladies. But I feel soft. I feel squishy and lumpy and out of shape. I walk a lot and I do yoga/pilates tapes, and I have them back in a rotation after being in the cycle where there are weeks when you can't do anything. You can walk, but not strenuously. This really confuses your body. Add in all that good full-fat dairy and whatnot and this is a frustrating time for my body. I am told all the time, "do not worry about this right now." And it's true--I can't add the stress of being less than happy with my body to the stress of being really pissed that my body can't do the very thing it was designed for. I have bigger fish to fry. But, in these weeks leading up to my next FET, I am going to do everything possible to balance things out, to do my yoga and pilates and do my walks and hikes and feel healthier. For my sanity. (Note: now is not the time to invite me to join Weight Watchers, or try a new diet fad, or try those crazy Insanity tapes. I probably don't even need this note in here, but sometimes people like to be helpful and it just makes me feel worse, so I'm going to proactively put that out there.)

There you have it. I have my moments of feeling overwhelmingly sad, and my moments of wanting to break something for the pure satisfaction of it. Any reasonable human being would, in my shoes. But I'm trying my best to keep my sanity and get myself ready for our next big adventure, which is hopefully the one that finally gets us off this crazy ride, if only until we try for a sibling. (See? Eternal optimist.)


  1. Flip it the bird right back! :) I love your tenacity and your optimism. Sending a big virtual hug.

    1. Thanks for the hug! I think sometimes I try to talk myself into being tough and optimistic... haha. I am doing my best to conquer this nonsense! :)

  2. Gah! I hear you. I have been taking prenatal vitamins for so long I can't remember not taking them. And as for the coffee and wine---it's been 5 months since my failed IVF at CCRM, and my corresponding pristine insides. I've loved the looseness and adultness of these past 5 months, getting tipsy at dinner, drinking two whole cups of coffee at work. Not cutting them out yet is a kind of avoidance---I am nervous about choosing a donor. I'm so sorry to hear about your cycle, but very happy to hear you are moving on to the next try. Strength to you! xoxo

    1. Yes! I agree, there is a bittersweetness about pretending to be a normal human and going about life as normal with the coffee and the booziness. I had a really hard time with selecting a donor (or in my case filling out the paperwork to have one selected for me to approve). It took me months. When I finally sent in the paperwork, it was so scary but a big relief at the same time. You will fill out that paperwork when you are ready--I think it's part of the process to grieve and be nervous to put that final stamp on using someone else's genetic material. Strength to you, too!

  3. I post a lot of dog pictures and garden pictures on Facebook too. :-)

    I would continue to take prenatal vitamins, even if you don't know when your next cycle is going to be. There is a lot of research out there that says that you should be taking them for at least three months prior to getting pregnant.

    I hope this next cycle is the money cycle!

    1. Thanks, lady! Oh good, I'm glad I'm not the only photoblaster on Facebook NOT posting baby picture after baby picture but posting other stuff instead. Yeah, I'm all prenatal/fish oil/Vitamin D/fullfat dairy'd up, hoping to keep this baby train moving. Interesting about the research! I should be like a baby resort at this point, having prenataled for years as I have if three months is optimal! :)

  4. We're also looking at DE. Fingers crossed & hold on for just a little while longer! The chances of this working next time are really really good. It's not that unusual for DE #1 not to work but the next FET to be a success. The first is about 40-60% and in the next another 20-30% get preggers. By the 3rd FET almost everybody is preggers with DE.

    I know it's hard not to loose hope but chances are so good for you.

    1. Thank you so much for those beautiful statistics--I am holding out hope for the FET and hope I only have to do the one! It was kind of a shock to be one of the people who DO NOT get pregnant with DE IVF on the first shot. I knew it might take a few tries, thank goodness for a prolific donor and good frozen, but thank you thank you for putting that hope into numbers I can believe in.

  5. Feel my hug, dear friend! I sounds like you are practicing excellent self care. Thinking of you very, very often.

    And by the way, I voted for you. (-:

    1. Thank you! I can use all the hugs I can get right now. Hey, where did you vote for me? Am I missing something exciting?

    2. This year? I am so sorry to be confused! :)

    3. Oh my goodness...I am so dumb and SO confused too. I totally thought that you were one of the nominations, and not only that - I thought I voted for you!! Then I saw your little button stating that you were one of the top five (which I hadn't noticed before), and that only confirmed it. I just got the email about voting for the best blogger and noticed that you weren't on the list, and I was like, "What the heck?!" So I am stumped. I have no idea why I thought you were in this year's top five. All of this has me wondering - who the hell did I vote for?!?! Well, at least all five of them are deserving.

      Wow. Not sure how I got so confused.

    4. No worries! My button is from last year, I was a top fiver in 2012. Thank you for thinking of voting for me even though I wasn't up this year! :) All five of the posts are really excellent, so whoever you voted for totally deserved it... no harm, no foul!