Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

I don't have the strength today to put a positive spin on my latest breakdown, or maybe, as it happened about thirty second ago, I just don't have the perspective yet.  In fact, what I do have is the need to just share my string of thoughts, in all it's crazy.

Five minutes ago I got home and washed my hands.  Four minutes ago I slipped into cozy pants and wiggled my toes happily in plush slippers.  One minute ago, I poured myself a small glass of juice, still having sugar consumption in the back of my mind as a PCOSer.  And thirty seconds ago, I sat down at the computer, linked to the internet, ran my mouse over the Google icon, read International Women's Day and promptly began bawling.

Bawling, all the while thinking....woman? I'm not even a real woman! I can't even get pregnant.  I don't work like a real woman, my hormones aren't that of a real woman with my elevated testosterone levels, and I have absolutely no chest.  I have the parts, but my parts aren't right.  What good are the parts if I can't even get them to work right?  to ovulate?  Woman.  Old woman.  I'm 30 now.  And if my parts didn't work before, I don't see them gearing up now as they age.  I'm aging.  My ovaries are aging.  My eggs are aging.  I wonder if I even have any good eggs anyway.  Maybe that's another problem and I just don't know about it.  Woman.  My husband married what he thought was a woman that could fulfill his life, but that isn't what he got.  I can't do what I should be able to do.  I can't give him what I should be able to give him.  How does he feel?  How does he really feel?  He is the most supportive person in the world, but he must be disappointed somewhere under there.  Disappointed in me?  With me?  Just alongside me?   Woman.  I want to be a real woman.  I want to be able to be a real woman!

Needless to say, I don't feel much of a desire to celebrate my womanhood today.  In the past, being a woman always meant that I would be able to have that irreplaceable, undeniable bond with my child whom I carried for 9 months.  But now, I wonder if that will ever really happen.  It is true, we are no longer seeking parenthood through fertility treatments and it feels wonderful.  I am no longer scrambling to squeeze appointments into my schedule, taking countless meds or paying exorbitant sums of money.  I am no longer peeing on sticks in a scrunched elementary school bathroom on my lunch break, sticking myself with needles or being prodded with cold wands.  I am no longer obsessing about . . . everything.     But most of all, I am no longer just trying to make it through each and every day.  I am not struggling to focus or walking through life like a zombie.  I am not continually fighting back the tears that were always welling up in my eyes.

It is true, times are not quite as tough here these days and I walk around quite gaily sharing our new adoption plan.  Still, I wonder if people realize that it doesn't all just disappear.  I have been down in the depths for a long while, stricken by the pain of infertility and while I have pulled myself out, while many have helped to pull me out, that doesn't mean that it all just disappears.  The constant crying has ceased, the day to day, even hour to hour struggles have let up and I feel quite certain that if one did a caricature of me today I would no longer have a rain cloud hanging above my head, following me everywhere I went.  It is different now.  It doesn't follow me.  In an odd way, it is me.  Over the last two years, I have felt that my infertility was external, that it followed me, that it poured down on me.  I felt, I suppose, that I would be relieved of it somehow, someday.  But now, I feel as if it is simply part of me and that I will carry it with me as long as I live. I am not sure how heavy this load will turn out to be.  Perhaps it will feel heavier some days than others.  Perhaps life changing events will change my acute awareness of its presence.  Nonetheless, I am quite certain it will always be here with me.

There have been so many times through the course of this journey that I have thought that I was about to put everything behind me, times where I thought that I could push everything aside and bury the pain once and for all.  I suppose, dear infertile friends, that isn't going to happen, is it?  I suppose it is only you who truly understand this.  The real world doesn't.  When I was going through infertility treatments, friends asked me regularly how I was doing.  They asked about treatments, they asked if I had gotten news and they asked just in general--how are you doing.  But now, no one asks.  I'm sure they thought as I did one time, that it would all melt away with the coming of a new endeavor.

But it is still very much so with me.  So, how do I cope?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our New Path

Well, in a matter of hours, it will be here.  My 30th birthday, that is.  Weeks ago I was chastising my husband for being bothered by turning 30 and now, while I wouldn't say I'm bothered by it, I wouldn't say I'm completely comfortable either.  As things always seem to do, it all boils down to babies.  (how terrible does that sound?!?)  I've heard this over and over again on these boards - I thought I'd be pregnant by 30, I thought I'd have my first child by 30, and on and on.  And, so did I.  It is a bit sad to be surrounded by pregnant women, be turning 30 and be very much so without child.  But today I'm doing a good job of spinning this in a positive way.  In fact, I'm doing a good job recently.  I could sit around and say I am no closer to a child than I was when I began this process nearly 2 years ago.  I could cry about turning 30, with the knowledge that everything fertility related is downhill from here.  I could curse my body and my ovaries for being so temperamental they just served up two straight,  extremely short, anovulatory cycles, leaving me without even a chance of conception.  I could lament the fact that  I don't have what I thought I'd have, what others have, what I should have.  But I'm not.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the impact and reality of all of these things.  It's just that lately, I find myself not going there--something I'm finding extraordinarily freeing.  In fact, what I do find myself doing is going to this page.  Over and over and over again I come to this page and I read my last post.  I  smile and I cry and I get chills.  And most of all, I feel my whole body and soul fill up with hope.  Indeed, I haven't wanted to post anything lately.  Not because I don't want to share or because there aren't things happening, but simply because I love coming back here and seeing that post.  My post of hope.  Real hope.  When so much of this journey has left me bone dry, gasping for air, it has been nice to feel hopeful again, to feel whole.

So here I go, a 30 year old woman looking forward to her little bean--a little bean that will sneak into my life and fill it completely, making everything and everyone feel whole.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Making it Official

Today, little bean, we are one step closer to you.  Today is the day I sat on daddy's lap and he held me as we officially took the first step to being the luckiest people on earth--your parents.  Kisses, hugs, nuzzles, tears--they all flowed.  My heart is so light and so reassured, knowing that we are on the right path, knowing that we have incredible love to sustain us no matter what this journey brings, knowing that you will come tumbling into our lives...maybe sooner, maybe later...but that you will come.  Today is the day we begin our adoption journey.  Today is the day we start building our family.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Going Somewhere

One year ago today, my world crumbled.  It was that day that my eyes turned into faucets, that day that I started to feel the pain of infertility in every situation, that day that a cloud came to hang over my head and follow me around.  While I have alluded to this over the last year, I don't think that I ever wrote about it in depth, so here is my story.

I had been excited--excited to get together with good friends, excited to eat and nibble on cookies.  But, most of all, in the weeks leading up to the gathering, I had been excited about the fantasy playing out in my head.  One of the most unhealthy things that I have let myself do over the last year is entertain a pregnancy fantasy in my head each and every month.  Every two week wait it happens.  I am powerless against it.  I start dreaming of how I would tell hubs and my friends and family that I was pregnant.  Last January, it was the same thing.  I was dreaming and feeling all the twinges that, though always present, always make me think I am unequivocally pregnant in those last days.  In my head, it would be perfect.  A friend organizing the dinner had come up with this cheesy idea that we should make a list of 30 things to do before we turned 30.  We changed it to 10.  And here's how it was suppose to happen:  It would be my turn and I would say, "Well, I've always wanted to have our first baby before we're thirty and we're pregnant!"  Congratulations would ensue and it would be one of the happiest moments my mind could revisit again and again.

Instead, this is what happened.  I wasn't pregnant.  I had found out a matter of days before and was disappointed that my fantasy had not panned out.  Still, it was only something I had dreamt of privately and like every monthly fantasy, the moment it wasn't to be, it was gone.  Until it wasn't gone and permanently embedded in my head.  We sat around the table and ate and talked and talked.  And then, we began sharing our lists.  Now, let it be said that I find it quite ridiculous to make such a list and then go around the table sharing one by one.  Maybe it is because I am a Kindergarten teacher and it reminds me of circle time, or maybe it is because I am far to sarcastic and cynical for my own good, or maybe it is just because it is absurdly sophomoric and asinine.  At any rate, I was in the middle of it.  I was a little sad when it began that I wouldn't be able to share the news I had dreamt of, but it was a fleeting thought.  We went around the table one by one, laughing, nodding in agreement at the great ideas others had come up with.  And then it was my best friend's turn and she said fairly verbatim, "Well, I've always wanted to have a baby before I was thirty and, I'm pregnant."  

My heart sank immediately.  I'm sure my face went blank.  My husband's hand quickly moved to my knee.  He showed me all the love in the world with that little touch and as I grabbed his hand, I felt as though I were holding on for dear life as the room erupted in a chorus of elated congratulations.  There seemed to be a swarm of people around me getting up for hugs and manly pats on the back.  I swear the room was spinning and I felt as if I were drowning.  I can feel it even now.  It seemed like a lifetime, but in reality, I was up in a matter of seconds giving my own hugs and squeals.

The days that followed are the very reason I started this blog at all--because after that, I was in a downward spiral.  Everything seemed so bleak.  The last two lists that were shared (my husband and my own) were immediately afterthoughts.  They didn't matter, because as we sat there with a couple that had just adopted the most beautiful little boy in the whole world (who has my heart to this day) and a couple that had just announced their pregnancy after six months of marriage and two months of trying, it suddenly seemed as though our lives were going nowhere.

So, it is no surprise that I was quite anxious for the annual dinner this time around.  While this group of friends is close and we see each other regularly, we don't often all get together.  Once a year, twice, maybe three times a year--an unpleasant fact that always strikes me as incredibly odd for great friends, but I guess that's what happens as you get older?

Suffice to say, this is not a year I truly want to reflect on and I was positive it would come to that.  "Oh, so have you done everything you wanted to before you turn 30?  How's your list going?"  I've been hearing this in my head for weeks.  And then I would feel like punching someone in the face.  Like screaming as I threw things across the room.  Like asking them why the fuck they would ever ask me something like that?

Luckily, it didn't come to that and wasn't truly too difficult at all.  Still, no matter how good of a place I feel that I am in, there are still truths of infertility that affect me.  All in all, it was great to see people-good food, good friends, cute babies.  But infertility does not like groups, specifically groups where the discussion tends to drift towards babies.  I was surprised how much the day wasn't driven by baby talk, perhaps naturally, perhaps consciously by everyone individually, or perhaps even discussed before hand collectively.  At any rate,  I appreciated it.

Still, infertility is self-conscious and no matter how hard I try, no matter what positive path we decide we are on, I can't shake it.  When you get together with good friends as a group so infrequently, the discussion is dictated by a want to catch-up, to see what others are up to, what is new in their life.  And when you are continually expecting to be able to share that something new in your life and it never comes to fruition, the thought of such talk is unbearable.  This time around, I am trying to rise above it and not let it get me down.  I completely understand that the conversation will turn to babies and the dramatic life style change that comes with them.  Of course it would--the babies are right there, they're adorable, they're wonderful.  At the same time, in such situations, the fact is that infertility immediately puts on a mopey face and says, "Things are happening in everyone else's life.  Nothing is happening in my life.  What do I have to sit around and talk about?  Nothing.  Humph!"  And no matter how old you are, you feel like going and curling up in a corner to sulk.

Luckily, this time around instead of crumbling, my tough, sensible mind is telling infertility to shut the hell up and focus on the incredibly significant and positive things that are going on in my life.  While it won't get a lot of air time in a room full of babies, the focus of my life right now--my job--is on a pretty incredible trajectory.  The truth is I have been very successful in my field as a teacher and my hard work and long hours are definitely beginning to pay off with recognition and significant leadership roles at school.  Earlier this year, when it was revealed to me that my principal was accepting another position, I was asked if I wanted the job.  I was flattered, flabbergasted, completely taken aback.  It was the biggest compliment I think I have ever received even though I decided not to put my hat in the ring in the end.  Still, the other day, I had a talk with a higher head honcho, finally ready to ask what possibilities there would be for me to move up in the future.  He ran through the new positions he's entertaining adding over the next few years and made it clear that I am someone he wants to move into administration.  "I'm very happy you're here and I know that I will have to give you further opportunities to keep you here," he said.

I hate talking about myself and really am not trying to boast, but here, in my own little arena, I needed to remind myself that I am going somewhere and even if it doesn't include babies, it is still pretty amazing.  I feel incredibly lucky to have found the home that I have with my job and am feeling increasingly lucky that I have quite a few opportunities for growth in the future.  So that is where I am going today.  The tomorrows will bring the babies.

White clouds sash-like
     wrap mountain waists,
The rock terrace flies in space
   distant, a narrow path. 
Leaning on a bramble staff,
   far and free I gaze,
To the warble of valley brook
   I will reply, whistling.

Monday, January 2, 2012

dreading today but looking forward to our tomorrows

I have this whole draft of a New Year's-y post on deck, but no time to finish it up, so here's a quicky.  For me, winter break is over today.  Actually, after the three minutes it takes me to type up this post and get all my winter gear on, I will be speeding out the door to ready my classroom for children once again.  Yes, that's right, I am having to get to school at about 6 a.m. after the wonderful workers who carpeted my classroom over break pretty much dumped everything back in the room after they completed their task.  I am lucky I popped into school to survey the damage yesterday and wasn't caught completely off guard 30 minutes before students arrive!  So...I am dreading today.  Not only because others made a mess of my relatively organized life, or because the kids are going to be crazy, or because I have to step back into this stressful school year today, but also because I realize that school isn't even close to over yet and I have to watch my best teacher friend grow her pregnant belly for the rest of the year.  I am in a good place, I really am, but this is just not going to be fun.  I love her dearly and could not say enough good things about her, but it will still be difficult.  Wishing school was over already!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Two Week Torment

Trying to have a good attitude, but it is ever-turing towards the negative.  Thus, let this be a fair warning that what is to follow will likely be an overly emotional rant!  I have wanted to come by and write many positive posts over the last week or so, but I never seem to get here until it is absolutely necessary to vent.  My deepest and most sincere apologies in advance, but I need this.  I am officially six days into the two week wait on our virtually natural cycle.  The only supplements involved are vitamins and prometrium (only being taken because I had exactly the right amount leftover from past cycles.)

I am not sure why I am in a negative place, but it probably has something to do with my past week and the holidays.  I never understood when people talked about the holidays being a hard time.  I have always thought that no matter what your troubles, the holidays would always be the best time--full of joy and laughter.  But this time around, it is hard.  At this time last year, we could not imagine having another Christmas as a family of two.  All the toasts between hubs and I were to our last year of a Christmas with just the two of us.  When we traveled, we talked about how different it would be next time, me either being pregnant or cradling our baby.  That's why having the holidays come around without that dream being realized is quite difficult.  We've talked a lot about moving forward with the new year and pointed out that we will be toasting to our health and happiness and leaving baby out of it for the time being.

My past week has been fairly difficult as well.  Just a lot of mama and baby talk surrounding me daily.  Can I tell you how unbearable it is to sit there with multiple mamas chattering about nothing more than baby related talk?  Feeling invisible?  Feeling out of place?  Feeling like my heart is being ripped out of my chest?  I'm sure many know the feeling.  While I understand this and have no doubt I will do the same thing when I finally reach that point of motherhood, when I find myself in such a situation it makes me want to get up and walk away.  One mama at a time, please.  Because then it's a conversation.  I am not sitting there listening, giving my mind time to wander.  In case you've picked up on this, a wandering mind is not good for me.  In the future, I will be more mindful of the conversations I walk into.

In the same vein, this week has brought multiple pregnancy announcements, over two consecutive days.  The first came from a dear friend--probably the sweetest, kindest person I have ever known.  I am unbelievably happy for her and her husband, but it was one of those 'we weren't trying, just seeing what happens six months into our marriage' conceptions.  Because of our close relationship, I have known of this, or the possibility of this, since literally the day after the baby dance that caused it all.  There is something to be said of not being caught off guard with such news, as was the case with the second pregnancy announcement that occurred in a staff meeting with cheering and clapping and whoops and hollers--all when I just wanted to burst out into tears.  

I have no doubt that negative thoughts will affect my mind and body and that no amount of perfectly timed baby sex can help me conceive if I am literally at my wits end with the realities of being infertile for a year and half.  I understand this, but I still hope and obsess and read into even the tiniest of sensations.  I've been here before.  And inevitably, when you're at this point is the moment where everyone around you tells you to just relax, see what happens, don't worry about it.  While I appreciate their sentiment and encouragement, at times it just makes me want to scream.  I'm sorry, did you miss the fact that we have been trying for a year and a half?  That while I have never been told I am infertile, I have been diagnosed with a fertility condition and have been told that it will be hard for me to conceive?  Yes, I understand that the idea is magical--try without trying, without worrying.  After all, these same people say, it worked for them...and them...and them.  Yes, it worked for all these people without fertility issues who are either five years younger than me or are the people who truly started "trying without trying" in a time period where they didn't mind waiting.  That was never the case for us.  When we began trying, we wanted a baby.  The pressure was on right away.  Not to mention the fact that with incredibly irregular cycles, I knew from the get-go that something was wrong.

I have talked many times here about a good friend who has been an incredible support through all of this.  And as I sat with her yesterday, we both sat dabbing our eyes as we wished for the end of the year.  Reflecting on why this time period seemed to be increasingly hard, I said, it is just with holidays coming around again, I'm wondering when this will be over.  Wishing for the end.  For a new beginning.

My two week wait is officially up on....drumroll please....Christmas Day!  Perfect.  Way to bring a landmark date into the picture, fate.  One that requires my ever-spinning head to weave more fantasies of perfect ways to receive and share baby news.  Though I get frustrated when my husband says this, I don't expect it this time around.  While talking with my friend yesterday, she shared the same assumption with a fitting anecdote:  The holidays people generally get off work for are substantial. With them come detailed preparations, large scaled gatherings and commitments, and often a sizable amount of money.  It is wonderful to have the time off, but often one is exhausted from all the holiday festivities and goes right back to work without having relaxed much at all.  Why, one asked, can't I have a holiday like Columbus Day?  or President's Day?  where I do not have high expectations of others and no one has any expectations of me.  So, she said, I don't think your news will come on Christmas.  Maybe on a Columbus Day.

I suppose that sums up where I need to gently be guiding my fickle mind.  There is no point to having great expectations of the future that fit neatly onto a timeline in my head.  It is meaningless to fantasize of how incredible it could be to share baby news on Christmas.  Maybe on a Columbus Day...or another similarly ambiguous day of the year that suddenly becomes our most precious moment.  Maybe that will be our day.  Now, if someone could just circle it on a calendar for me, I would greatly appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A whole new world

I am trying madly to get back here these days, but it's been hard all due to my crazy work.  Unlike earlier, I am not trying to put ttc as far out of my mind as possible to get through.  On the contrary, I am actually having a wonderful natural cycle. natural as you can when you are desperately trying to conceive!  Our "natural cycle" includes pre-seed, OPKs, supplements, and now my new favorite thing in the whole world...

Before we began having "baby sex" we always used condoms.  So, you would understand our delight after having unprotected sex for the first time.  We were blown away!  It was a whole other world!  While the act is incredible, I have always found the aftermath fairly... disgusting.  I was now feeling less sexy than ever dealing with the leakage, propping myself up to counter this, having to use a towel, and on and on.  Imagine my new delight when I used an instead cup for the first time.  Blown away!  A whole new world!

For those of you reading this who don't know about instead cups, they are actually polyethylene cups designed for your period.  I first picked them up because I had read so much about them being effective for ttc.  The idea is that it keeps the sperm inside and closer to the cervix rather than it leaking out.  I am still not sold on this idea for really increasing our chances, but I thought it couldn't hurt to try.  It took a few times to get the courage to stick this rather large thing up, but once I did, it was incredible.  I now feel it is my duty to tell every woman I know about these!  It wasn't all that sexy, but a quick insertion under the blankets as opposed to the alternative seemed fine to me.  And then, just as a tampon, you don't feel it at all and the best part....drumroll spillage!  You can lay how ever you please without worry!

Ahhhhh.....I have entered a whole new world.  A much cleaner, little more sexy world where I feel like I can actually keep my dignity after doing the deed.  Initially, this was done purely to increase our chances conceiving, but I do believe that I just may have to use these far more often.  Try it.  It's amazing.