Monday, December 23, 2013

More Than You Know

This weekend, Bobby and I talked about infertility. In many ways, we're not in the same place. In fact, he wouldn't even consider us "infertile." He absolutely believes we will conceive on our own, in God's time. I admire his faith, and wish mine was that strong.

He doesn't research infertility like I do. He doesn't know what CD we're on, or keep track of when we should be having sex. He isn't consumed with the thoughts that we may never have a baby like I am. He's convinced we will.

We were in church one Sunday several months ago and calculated the number of married couples in our church that don't have kids/aren't pregnant. Actually, Bobby noticed this. He leaned over and whispered it to me--these are the infertility thoughts that consume him.

Three. There are three couples in our church of of 200+.

One couple is in their late thirties, and I don't know their story. I don't know if they are childless by choice or struggled with infertility.

The other couple is in their early-to-mid thirties and was open about trying to conceive when they first were married. She never got pregnant, and as far as I know, they never sought additional treatment.

The third couple is us. We are 25 years old.

After reading so many infertility blogs, I feel ridiculous. I am 25 years old (26 in early February). I am NOT old. I'm not even old in fertility years. But in Baptist Church Childbearing Years, I'm ancient. And that's why my struggle is so hard. Many of the couples in our church are younger than us. They're in the 19-24 range, with two kids. Most of my college friends who moved away and began flashy, exotic careers wouldn't even dream of having children until they hit 30. Many are 25-26 and working towards professorship. They'll consider children once they officially receive tenure.

My mom was 34 when she had my older sister, 37 when she had me. This is why my parents have never pushed us about giving them grandchildren. To be honest, I don't know my parents' full story. We don't have the kind of relationship where I feel I could ask about past miscarriages or infertility struggles. They married young--my mom 21, my dad 23. My dad was military and stationed in London. They moved around Europe for several years while he was serving, and I assume they didn't plan to have children during that time. However, after moving back to the States, they still didn't conceive for 10ish years. And I don't know why.

Of course, I'd like to know why--perhaps my mom's experience could help with my own struggle. And I'm sure my reluctance to ask them seems strange to those of you with close relationships to your mothers. We just don't have that. We've never been close, we've never shared that kind of personal information.

What Bobby sees in his family is a much different situation. His parents married young as well, his mom was 22, his dad 21. His mom had Bobby at 25 and his brother Steve at 27. Two years later, they divorced. In 1996, his dad remarried, and three and five years later (at ages 35 and 37) he had two more sons. His wife (Bobby's step mom) was 31 and 33. There was little pre-planning, no fertility treatment. I don't know how long they "tried" exactly, but they were only married for three years before that, and from everything they've said to us, I doubt they tried much before year two. Because Bobby's dad has produced four sons at different stages of his life, Bobby assumes he is fertile (and he's also convinced we will have two sons--but that's another story).

So this weekend, Bobby and I talked about my fears and worries, and I attempted to explain to him exactly how much having a baby consumes me. I think about it all. the. time. I always know what cycle day it is. I'm examining toilet paper for cervical mucous, I'm over-analyzing anything that could possibly be a symptom, and I'm googling like a total maniac.

His response: I think about it more than you know.

I love this man already, and those simple words flooded me with gratitude. We're in this together. For better, for worse. We already know we make a great couple without kids. No matter what, we'll be fine. We still may not be in the same place exactly, but that's okay. We're still on the same journey.

Together.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Get Pregnant, by Frank Jr.

I'm doing it again. I'm setting myself up to be disappointed.

I'm pretty sure I have pleurisy--I contracted it the summer after I graduated high school, and my doctor told me then that if you get it once, you're likely to continue getting it. So every few winters or so, I have this incredible chest pain and it hurts to breathe. Bending over to pick something up is the worst part. I feel incredibly heavy, like a weight is pushing into to my sternum through my lungs. I started getting that feeling last night. Since it's lung pain, it hurts my back to sit upright on the couch, but lying down forces more pressure on my chest and makes it hard to breathe.

At Bobby's basketball game last night, I finally caved and dug in his med kit for some Tylenol. Let's be real, Tylenol does very, very little for pain. But I turned down Advil and Aleve from the scorekeeper, because Tylenol is safe. I do this every month in the two week wait. I'll cancel my blood donation or suffer through a horrible sinus infection or only take Tylenol, because, well, I could be pregnant. And I've worked so freaking hard for this baby that has never yet existed, I'm not about to take any medicine that could harm it. In a few weeks, my period will arrive or I'll cave and take a pregnancy test. It will be negative. And I'll hate myself for cancelling my blood donation, I'll kick myself for suffering (and forcing Bobby to suffer) through sleepless nights of sniffling and wheezing. And I'll pop an Advil, just to give a giant middle finger to my body and the world.

And it's ridiculous, right? All of this avoiding caffeine and alcohol and medicine. Because NONE of my fertile friends avoided these things. Bobby's cousin didn't know she was pregnant until six months. SIX. FREAKING. MONTHS. How does that happen? So why do I have to be so careful about everything I put in my body just to help my chances of getting pregnant. Chalk that up to the list of things that aren't fair about being infertile.

Plus, whenever I hear about avoiding alcohol, it kind of makes me laugh. I don't have any concrete statistics on this, but I'd guess somewhere around 50% of babies are conceived with alcohol playing a factor. It always reminds me of that Friends episode, where Phoebe is a surrogate for her brother, Frank Jr. Just before the transfer, Phoebe asks if there's anything she can do to improve the chances of the IVF working, and Giovanni Ribisi, in his awesome white trash deadpan suggests, "I know! Why don't you get drunk! That worked for a bunch of girls in my high school!"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Little of This, A Little of That

I think it's CD 21, so technically I'm probably in two week wait territory. However, every time I start thinking that way and ease up on our mandatory timed intercourse, my period is a week late, and all signs point to a late ovulation. So the plan is to stick to sex every other day until my period hits. Not only does that mean more sex for everyone, it also eliminates some of the "waiting" part of the two week wait.

Of course, that meant I kind of forced poor Bobby to have sex with me on Tuesday night when he got home from an away basketball game. He was drained after an emotional game--they won on a buzzer-beater!--but he also had to endure an hour and a half bus ride home with 30 high schoolers. And then as soon as he walked in the door he was jumped by his wife who was demanding sexual favors. He's mentioned in the past that he feels like he can't say no...not just because of his baby making desires, but because he imagines 16-year-old Bobby confronting him. If 16-year-old Bobby saw me turn down a smokin hot naked chick throwing herself at me, he'd punch me in the face. I appreciate his sentiments, and his ability to "power through" some of the less desirable timed intercourse sessions.

In non-(in)fertility news, I may need to quit playing volleyball. In the summers, I play in both a women's and co-ed sand league. It's a lot of fun, relaxed, and a good way to get outside and be active. In the fall/winter, I play in an extremely competitive indoor women's league. It's fun, but it's also exhausting. We don't practice as much as we should, but since everyone on my team (and almost all the other teams) were at least D3 college athletes, we're extremely competitive. Our season isn't going well--we lost one of our best players to a broken foot early in the year, and three of the other women are pregnant. We hate that we're losing so much, but we don't have the time in our schedules to really practice as much as we need to. I think this season has been more frustrating than fun, and it's wearing on me. I don't want to give it up (it's hard to get on a new team), but I might have to admit that I'm not as good (and definitely not as fast) as I once was.

I'm actually still healing from a pretty bad bone bruise I got on my knee three weeks ago, and last week I definitely damaged my other knee. They were both dumb plays, and I dove too late. It was a lazy lack-of-hustle play on my part, but I do feel like I'm picking up way more of the court than usual, since my pregnant teammates are trying to avoid diving. Last night our setter was gone, so I actually got to set, which was awesome. I've played setter from fourth grade all the way through college (I'm five feet tall, what else am I gonna play?), but our setter on this team is very, very good. She likes to play a 5-1, so we do. This year, I've transitioned to an outside hitter. I do enjoy playing back row now, but my hitting isn't great, and I'm not super comfortable with all the blocking rotations. I feel like I'm wandering around a lot, unsure of where I'm supposed to be covering (which is funny, because when I'm coaching I feel like I know where everyone should be at all times. Guess it's just a different perspective being on the sideline than being in the middle of the court). It was really fun to be back setting and feeling like I was commanding the court and totally comfortable in my role. I need nights like that more often.

There's a blog post coming that I really need to write. I just can't do it yet, because it'll make it real. My best friend since I was 10 years old is 33 weeks pregnant. We've always been in the exact same stage of life together, even dealing with a year of infertility. But she overcame it and I didn't. In just a few weeks, she'll have a baby and I won't. Our relationship is going to change, and there's nothing I can do about it. I know I need to explore these feelings, but for now I'm ignoring them.

We're having Christmas at my parents' house with my sister this weekend. At least there won't be any baby talk there! My sister is three years older than me (29) and separated from her husband. She's a retail manager of a home improvement store and lives in a trailer park with several cats. So even though I'm not giving my parents any grandchildren, I'm still the most successful sibling!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meet Cute

It's how two characters meet in a movie. 
Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in, 
and they both go to the same men's pajama department. 
And the man says to the salesman, "I just need bottoms." 
The woman says, "I just need a top." 
They look at each other, and that's the meet cute.
- The Holiday

The meet cute is the basic staple of your romantic comedy. Two characters who are strangers and would likely never meet are suddenly thrust in a situation where they not only meet, but converse. There's instant emotion (positive or negative), and a relationship becomes inevitable after that moment. It's adorable. Right?

This is not how I met my husband. We "met" in about second grade. While I can't remember for sure, I doubt there was an adorable connection on the playground. In fact, he was hardly on my radar. The first time I remember him was when our classes were combined in fifth and sixth grade (he was a grade behind me). He was this weird super-athlete, super-nerd hybrid. Despite the fact that I was one of the most athletic girls in our class, he never picked me for his kickball team (he was ALWAYS captain).

That year, our school started this mini advanced placement class called "Enrichment Class" for about 8-10 students. Enrichment Class took us out of our general classroom during our Reading class, so it was for students who excelled in Reading and English. Since language is my strongest subject, I was chosen. So was Bobby. However, Enrichment Class wasn't focused on English or Reading--it was an advanced Science class, which is my nightmare. It was pretty obvious I didn't belong. I was a good reader, but terrible with all the science work we did. For one project, Bobby and I were assigned as partners. He convinced our teacher to reassign him, because I wasn't "enriching" him.

In junior high, we became sort of friends. He was nicer to me, but we never hung out outside of school. We had a lot of classes together and my girl friends and I liked to tease him about being so smart (I was an obnoxious junior high girl). He was also still an excellent athlete, so that impressed us. Eventually we started dating in high school (I think his totally romantic words were: Wanna be my girlfriend?). There was never a meet cute.

I bring this up because I often think about this in relationship to fertility. Bobby and I are seriously considering adoption as our next steps. It's something I've always wanted to do--I just assumed it would be after I had three or four of my own children (ha!). I'm looking at agencies, comparing international to domestic options, and budgeting. All I can think is Why is this so freaking expensive!? It's not fair. Babymaking shouldn't involve dipping into savings.
$10 for a cheap bottle of wine.
$5 for some lube.
$6 for some candles.
$3 for Barry White's All Time Greatest Hits CD.

And let's be honest--NONE of that is necessary. Those are luxuries. Totally unnecessary to pound one out for free in your bed (or on the floor, as we did this weekend while my in-laws were here). Sure, having kids is always going to be expensive, but making them shouldn't be. You shouldn't have to take out a loan, borrow from your parents, borrow against your life insurance, spend your retirement fund, or take out a second mortgage just to try to have a baby.

But all of this is reality when your sperm and egg refuse to just meet cute the romantic way.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bed

This is about to be an awkward sex post. Read at your own risk.

As I've mentioned, my in-laws are coming today. It's CD14, and right around ovulation time. This is our last cycle before I go to my doctor in January, and I'd love for scheduling an appointment to be the ironic event that triggered our pregnancy. My in-laws will be here for three days, so we're hoping to only need to have sex once in that time--on Friday night.

So...here's the set up. Our bedroom and the guest room are at the back of the house, separated by the bathroom (no shared walls). How inappropriate is it for us to do this with them in the next room (younger brothers will be downstairs in the safely insulated and sound-proofed basement)? Our bed is loud--like extreme porn-scene loud. It's on casters, and our floor is hardwood--what happens next is science even I can understand. Plus the amount of squeaking our bed frame does when one of us shifts our foot in the middle of the night is ridiculous. Obviously some WD-40 would cure this, but let's be honest, we live alone. The only people the bed squeaking annoys is us. And we're lazy about fixing things like that. I'm not actually sure how much noise our bed makes during sex...as I'm paying attention to other things--but I'm assuming it's a lot. Especially as last night when we were trying to fall asleep and Bobby was restlessly rolling over. It sounded like a freaking symphony of mice until I yelled at him to "STOP. MOVING!"

We're thinking something like blanket-on-the-floor, or leaning-against-the-wall, or maybe even a throw back of sneaking to the backseat-of-the-car.

This is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever written. Oh, the dilemmas of the infertile. Any advice for emergency ovulation sex when the in-law are around? Or any other funny stories of places you managed to make it work?

Or am I the only crazy one, and most people would just skip this month...?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why Do You Hate Kids

Today someone asked me if I had kids.

I know that question is on a lot of infertile bloggers "Do Not Ask List," but I honestly don't mind it. I'm assuming they scan my left hand, see that I'm married, acknowledge I'm of childbearing age, and ask an innocent question. It's also a question I can answer with a quick "Nope, no kids. How about you?"

When I started my current job a few years ago, we had a staff potluck lunch. According to office tradition, my new co-workers were able to bombard me with questions about myself. As a sort of private person, I was nervous going into this, but everyone was very kind. They asked about my college, previous work, parents, siblings, husband, house, pets, etc. At the time, we had been married less than a year and we were still actively trying NOT to get pregnant, and someone asked if we had kids. Without even thinking, I just said no, and moved on to the next question.

Most of the time I'm asked if I have kids, it's by either a stranger (and I can say no and move on), or by someone who has very little knowledge of my past, but is genuinely interested in getting to know me--like my new co-workers. I have no problem with the question "Do you have kids?" I find it similar to "Did you grow up in Minnesota?" or "Where did you go to college?"

The question I DO have a problem with generally comes from people I do know, and know I've been married for three and half years. People in my church, or the parents of kids I coach. They like to ask: "Why don't you have kids?" It comes off as accusingly...and somehow always sounds like, "Why do you hate kids?"

Since I'm still dealing with my infertility anonymously, I generally answer that we're really enjoying our lives right now just the two of us, we're busy coaching YOUR children, or that I'm just too darn lazy and selfish take care of another person 24/7. Do you realize how much HGTV I would miss!?

So...your least favorite kids questions?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Frozen Fingers and Cervical Mucous

It's EWCM day! That literally grossed me out just typing that. I'm actually not convinced about the state of my mucous--it's sort of been a liar in the past. It's only CD12, and since my cycles are generally close to 30-35 days, I kind of doubt I'm ovulating. We'll have sex tonight--you can never be too careful! Bobby's basketball team does have a game tonight, and there's nothing like a high school boys basketball game to get me ready to go!....wait, what?

Our coaching schedules always makes baby dancing a little tricky. We've got to settle for either a quickie after work before games, or wait til post game when we're usually drained (and let's face it, sometimes upset--neither of us are Bobby Knight, but we don't like losing. Okay, I'm way worse than him...thankfully, my team is better and doesn't lose as often!)

This is only about half a post, and I'm blogging because I'm procrastinating. I need to go put gas in my car, but it's 9* outside with a -6* windchill. I'm not exactly excited to go stand outside for 10 minutes and pump gas with -6* wind whipping me in the face. I recently learned that it's illegal to pump your own gas in some states. What is that madness? I want to move there! Pumping gas in the winter is something I seriously dread (which is why I let me tank get close to empty--a really mean thing to do for my fuel line...not to mention that I would die if I went in the ditch and couldn't run my engine. I would freeze in about 12 seconds).

Okay, time to suck it up and go fill my car. I don't have anything planned for the next few hours, so my poor fingers will have time to thaw from their frost bite.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Wishful Thinking

Everything is covered in at least a foot of snow around here, which I guess is pretty good babymaking weather. We stayed in most of the weekend, after venturing out to go Christmas shopping on Saturday morning. We have our first of many Christmases this weekend with Bobby's dad, stepmom, and two teenage brothers on Friday, and then his stepmom's whole extended family has a Christmas party on Saturday. Since we're having a house full of guests for a long weekend, that meant deep cleaning our house and hiding all the babymaking paraphernalia.

The last things we need is for Bobby's dad and stepmom to find out we're trying. They're the first set of grandparents who starting "pushing" us for grandkids (Bobby's dad is the oldest sibling, and he's the only one who's not a grandpa--but both his brother's and sister's kids had babies while they were still in high school...so that wasn't really a contest I wanted to win). To be fair, they really aren't pushing. They just make a lot of comments about how they'd like to be grandparents--and then are quick to add "But you guys just wait until you are ready!" Which used to be nice, but now I just want to add, "We are ready! We're just infertile!"

I'll admit, I'm not a great daughter-in-law. I purposely adjusted my schedule this week so I'd be working late when they arrive on Thursday (however, Bobby has basketball practice, so he'll be coaching and leaving me alone to entertain his family for a few hours). I'm honestly really okay with Bobby's dad and stepmom, it's his younger brothers that are rough. They're somewhere around 12 and 14 and awkward. I'm good with teenagers. I'm a coach and a coach's wife. We have the kids over to our house all the time. We help out in youth group. They love us. But Bobby's brothers are something else. Aspergers runs in that side of Bobby's family, and while neither of the boys have been diagnosed, I wouldn't be surprised if they're somewhere on the spectrum. I don't try to be a mean sister-in-law, but they are the most awkward around me. Part of me understands--they probably don't have much interaction with 20-something females, other than maybe a teacher. They've known me since they were about 6 or 7, but I don't see them very often, and I'm sure I make them uncomfortable. So, I'm preparing myself now for an awkward evening.

Okay, that's probably enough confessions for one day. I'm assuming I will ovulate sometime in the next two weeks, so we're having sex every other day until my period arrives. I was planning on doing the OPK route again this cycle, but I didn't really want to bring anymore TTC paraphernalia into the house while we have company. We're hoping to just get lucky. My period should start on Dec. 29--so I could reasonably find out I'm pregnant on New Year's Eve...the same day Bobby proposed to me four years ago. How's that for poetic?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Patty and Selma

When I think about my ovaries, I imagine they look like this:
Yes, my ovaries look a lot like Patty and Selma Bouvier from The Simpsons. They are crabby, chain-smoking old maids. 

In reality, I know very little about my ovaries. I went to a Christian high school where they didn't teach sex ed. All of our biology teachers skipped the chapters on reproduction because they were too embarrassed to teach. I literally didn't know the science behind conception (beyond sperm + egg = baby) until college. I didn't know much about ovulation cycles until it had been a year and I still wasn't pregnant.
A lot of my friends did "natural family planning" when they got married, and all of them ended up pregnant within a year. So my strategy when we decided to start trying for a baby after I went off the pill was to have lots of sex. My friends who were natural family planning couldn't keep themselves from getting pregnant using thermometers, calendars, and apps, I didn't imagine I'd need anything high tech to get me pregnant (interestingly, two of my high school classmates got pregnant in high school--even with no sex ed...how hard could it be?).

Science is not my thing. Not even a little. All of my report cards in elementary school came back with the same note from the teachers: Lilee is a bright student. Although she struggles in math and science, she is extremely hard working and creative.
Every. single. one. contains the word "creative." I talked to my former advisor from college after she'd given me a recommendation for my current job. She told me she was worried about the things she said--they were all good, but she kept using the word "creative" to describe me, and hoped my prospective employer didn't take that the wrong way. So yes, I'm more creative than analytical. But in my infertility, I've found myself taking an analytical approach--despite how unnatural it feels.

I tried charting my cycles. It was worthless. I tried OPKs. Also worthless. I've tried having sex every day, every other day, every three days for an entire month (okay, the every day thing didn't work out. Husband wore out). Nothing was helping.


I googled. Oh, how I googled. I read everything I could on women's health. I read over and over again how exactly conception happens. I studied like I was going to be tested (I felt like I was...after all this work, the next BFN would definitely be a failing grade). I was sure that if I could just understand the science, then I could control it.

And then I felt stupid. Like that third grade girl whose teacher's only comment on her science fair project was that it was "creative." Like that senior in high school, desperately making up songs to memorize all the muscles for an upcoming health quiz. Like the college sophomore who managed to scrape a C- in Earth Science. Earth freaking Science. Like about rocks and stuff. Like the girl who got two (2!) answers correct on the entire fetal pig dissection test. I can't get pregnant because I'm dumb.

Part of me is pretty sure we haven't conceived because we can't get the timing right. And we can't get the timing right because my ovaries are Patty and Selma. They do whatever they want. What my cycle will look like is a big giant question mark trailing from their cigarettes. I have no freaking idea when I ovulate. My side hurts, my face breaks out, I leak cervical mucous, and get negative OPKs. We have lots of sex. My period doesn't start for six more weeks. The next month, not a single symptom the entire month, no positive OPK, we have lots of sex anyway, period starts after a perfect 30 days. WTF, Patty and Selma? What are you doing?

I have to say, I was incredibly reassured when I found jAllen's blog Mine to Command. Not only is she an awesome writer and storyteller, she works in women's health. She's intelligent and she knows science. She's never specifically said this, but I'm pretty sure she got better than a 5% on her fetal pig dissection. She's super smart and educated in all things fertility. And she's infertile. Reading her blog finally allowed me to cut myself a little slack...maybe I'm not infertile because I'm dumb. Maybe I'm just infertile.

I'm seeing my doctor in January. She's my primary, and I haven't gone because last time I asked her about fertility she pretty much shrugged me off. I was 24, and she told me not to worry. We'd been trying for about six months, and she basically assured me I'd be pregnant by the time I saw her for my next physical. The problem is, I don't really have any other options for doctors. I live in Minnesota...and not in Minneapolis/St. Paul. My clinic is small. There is no RE care available within several hours.

When I go in, I suspect my doctor will do some blood work and prescribe Clomid. However, that's about the extent that my fertility "treatments" will go.

So right now, I'm trying to reign in Patty and Selma, learn my ovulation schedule--which at the moment appears to be falling when my husband's dad, step-mom, and two pre-teen brothers will be staying with us. Errrmmmm (Marge Simpson noise).