Friday, January 31, 2014

Minnesota

Yesterday was pretty miserable. I finally had to admit I was, once again, not pregnant. I also had some pretty bad cramps, we got another six inches of snow, and I could not stuff food in my face fast enough.

Since I really slacked off on grocery shopping last weekend and had already made two trips to the store this week to pick up individual meals for the night, I was done. Back when Bobby and I were first married, we were really intentional about still dating each other. On Thursday nights, we would get dressed up and go out. We wanted to keep things special, continue to romance each other, and refuse to fall into a routine of not making the effort to impress one another. It lasted a year or so.

Yesterday, to both avoid going grocery shopping AGAIN and to GET OFF THE COUCH and avoid yet another night of watching Netflix, I decided we would go on a date. We got quite a few gift cards for Christmas, so it would be a free night out. I'm also very much dying of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) right now and needed to get outside. I needed fresh air. I needed to stop staring at a computer screen at work for six hours and then going home to stare at a TV for another six hours before going to bed.

But my stomach hurt and I was in a bad mood.

It did not help matters when I went outside after work to discover that the company that plows our work parking lot did not plow until AFTER all of us were at work. So all of the snow was now pushed between and behind our cars. It had also snowed 3-4 inches during the day, so I had to stand in a giant snow drift in dress pants while brushing off my car. I also needed to give something to Bobby, but he was going straight to basketball practice and not coming home first. Since I drive past where he parks anyway, I just put the papers in a zip lock and stuck it under his windshield wiper (I don't carry his truck keys). BUT this meant I had to stand in a second snow drift and brush off his truck--which is very tall and I can barely reach the top of the window, even with an extendable scraper.

Date night was off to a great start.

Once I reached our house, I realized there was no way my car was going to make it through the drift in our driveway unshoveled. Many of the side roads on my way home weren't plowed, and I had almost gotten stuck at several intersections. I was NOT going to get stuck at the end of own driveway, especially with no one else home to push me in. This meant I parked in the street and again walked through a giant snow drift, nearly up to my knees.

I was just going to leave it for Bobby to shovel, since he usually takes care of it. I do most of the inside cleaning and he takes care of the outside work. But I knew he wouldn't be home until at least 5:30, the driveway would take close to an hour and half to shovel, and I still really wanted to go on a date.

I bundled up and got shoveling. Good lord, it was heavy. I was muttering to myself most of the time about how much it sucked. My stomach was still aching, and the whole thing just felt unfair. Not only was I not pregnant, I have to shovel snow (there's a connection there somewhere...you just have to be PMSing to make it).

We've had a lot of snow this winter. Well, to be fair, it is Minnesota, and we have a lot of snow every winter. But THIS winter just seems worse. Schools were cancelled on Monday and were two hours late on Tuesday--but not for snow. For excessive cold. It was -50 windchill. -50!? I can't even... Oh, and this week was the second time this month they've been cancelled for cold. Plus another day or two for snow. Why do people live here?

On either side of our driveway, the snow is piled up close to four and half feet high. Probably more at the ends. That means every scoop I shoveled had to be lifted nearly over my head and thrown into the yard. If you've never shoveled wet snow, you're missing out. It is literally harder than any other workout I've done. It works every single muscle in your legs, butt, back, abs, shoulders, and arms. It took me close to two hours to finish our single-car wide driveway.

It did not help that I got many smiles, sympathetic head tilts, and even some outright laughs from the motorists driving by. Yes, I'm a small person. Yes, I'm shoveling a driveway by myself. My uterus is also leaking out of my body right now, so just try me. I dare you.

Our next door neighbors are snow birds. They're in their 80s, so they leave in mid-November and return the first of May. They have a man (possibly their son) who comes over and blows out their driveway when it snows. Well, he showed up after I'd been out there for a good hour. I only had the bottom quarter of the driveway left...the worst part.

Those of you from up north know what I'm talking about: the end where the snow plow shoves all the snow from the street into the last 3-4 feet of your driveway. It's solid chunks of the heaviest snow, plus its mixed with sand and salt. It took me nearly 45 minutes to do those three feet (it was close to 18 inches deep). The guy shows up, blows out the neighbor's driveway and leaves all in the time it takes me to do the last quarter. And believe me, I had some not very kind thoughts for him. Seriously, how hard would it have been for him to push that thing over and do a couple swipes for me? It would have taken him five minutes to blow it out--compared to my 45 minutes of shoveling. I tell you, chivalry is dead.

Growing up, my family didn't have a snow blower until I was in high school. Anytime it snowed a lot, our neighbor across the street would come blow out the end of our driveway for my dad, usually because my dad was out there shoveling when the neighbor finished his own. No one has done that for us. Our neighbors suck.

By the end, I was just wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Gone was the coat, sweatshirt, and scarf. It was seriously hard work. But at some point, I noticed my cramps were gone (of course, my back and shoulders were now aching way more, but that's beside the point). I was annoyed we still live in this stupid, frozen state, but I was thankful for my body. I know I've been complaining at how broken my insides are, but I was grateful that I'm strong and can bend, lift, and shovel. We live near the high school in town, and at one point three high school boys piled in a jacked-up truck drove by and yelled, "Show us your tits and we'll help you!" I laughed...though I'm embarrassed to admit how long I contemplated taking them up on that offer.

So many times, I thought about quitting. Just leaving it for Bobby. But I wanted to go on a nice date with him, and I knew he'd be really appreciative of not having to shovel. I was grunting, sweating, and maybe even swearing a little, but I finished it. It felt good. It felt good to work hard, sweat, and accomplish something so big. Bobby was so happy and took me on a wonderful date. We talked and laughed and had a great time.

This was really rambling and long, but it's how I spent my day yesterday.

Also--who's ready to make the move to Minnesota?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mermaid

When I was about 15, I remember being at one of my best friend's house. We were lying on her living room floor, paging through Seventeen magazines and gossiping about cute boys. I can't remember the circumstances exactly, but I think it was near spring break because my family was going on a big vacation in a few weeks--and I lamented to my friend that I was really hoping my period would show up on time or even early, because if it was late, I'd have it during the trip.

My friend's mom overhead me say this, as she was in the kitchen nearby. She poked her head in the room, and I've never forgotten what she said: "If your period is on it's way, having sex will make it show up!"

Now, I have no idea if this is true (or why she even told me that--I was 15! Plus, there were exactly ZERO boys I knew interested in having sex with me at the time), but I've always remembered this.

On a semi-related note, last night I decided to dye my hair a deep auburn. I'm a natural blonde--well, I used to be. Over the summer, my hair lightens quite a bit, but in September, I begin getting serious roots as my hair darkens. And every year, it seems to be getting even darker. I've been walking around with "almost-ombre" hair for several months now, and I decided to change it. I used to keep my hair reddish in high school, and that's when my husband fell in love with me, so he likes when I keep it red now too.

Well...the dye went a little rough. Since this blog is anonymous and I don't post photos of myself, I'll just give you this link. This is a fairly accurate depiction of my current hair color. I'm not sure if Bobby actually likes it, or is just a really, really nice guy, but he was into it. In fact, he came into the bedroom where I was working last night ran his fingers through the front of my hair and said, "I want to have sex with my new wife."

Since I figured my period was on its way anyway, it couldn't hurt. I might as well get this thing started (sexy, right? Infertile sex is so hot).

**This next part is going to be kind of gross. Read at your own risk.**

Bobby and I are not a fall-asleep-cuddling-after-sex kind of couple. We're a clean-up-and-shower couple. I know it's not nearly as movie-esque to grab the sex towel and and run to the bathroom shortly after, but I'm sorry, I do not want to sleep in a pile of jizz. Plus I get UTIs and bladder infections really easily. My hoo-ha needs to be cleaned out.

Well, the jizz was definitely brownish pink last night. It appeared my friend's mom was totally right about sex getting my period started.

Except it didn't actually work. At least not over night. I was still leaking jizz this morning (as I always do after sex), and it was still brownish. I assumed I'd start bleeding in a few hours. I have not.

I still don't have my period yet. I was so sure it was coming, I even put today as Cycle Day 1 on the app when I took my temperature this morning. But so far, nothing.

I guess I'll be dyeing my hair again so Bobby will want to have sex with his new, new wife tonight.

Does anyone have a theory about this? Does having sex actually make your period show up, or is this just an old wives' tale? Any other ways to make a period on it's way show up?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Still In Limbo

I should just take a freaking pregnancy test.

I have a box of three hiding in the bottom drawer of our bathroom cupboard. They're just waiting there, ready to be peed on. It's Cycle Day 36. Yesterday, I was pretty sure my period was about to show up. Today, nothing. My face is starting to break out a little, but that could just be stress, and the fact that my face still thinks I'm 15 years old. I'm constantly hungry, but really, what else is new? I've been having some slight twinges of ovary pain--like how it feels when I'm ovulating. I really don't know what that means, but it could just be normal stomach pangs, I'm just attributing it to Patty and Selma because they can be real jerks. My boobs have been sore for a week now--and that's really the only symptom I have no answer for.

Well...unless my dear husband Bobby is to be believed. Because according to him, I have "period butt."

What? You've never heard of it? Sounds totally made up? Don't worry. It is.

Bobby insists he can tell when I have or am getting my period--by the feel of my butt. It feels "nicer." It's apparently more toned, firmer, and all-around sexier. It's no secret that my husband is an ass man. Sure, he's got the normal fascination by boobs, can certainly enjoy a great pair of legs, and appreciates curvy hips. But let me tell you, Bobby could have written Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back." That man is all about the butt.

Yes, I've tried to tell him "period butt" isn't a real thing, but then he complains, "It's the one good thing about your period, why can't you just let me enjoy it!" Touche.

So I guess my second symptom of impending period is my butt.

I know, I could just take a pregnancy test and this would all be over. It would be negative, I'd start my period in a few days (or just skip this month and chalk it up to another anovulatory cycle), and I could drink my body weight in caffeine or hard liquor.

But I guess I like the torture.

No, that's not it. What I don't like about getting a negative test is the finality of it. It means I'm NOT PREGNANT. I never was. It's time to stop kidding myself and start trying to figure out when (if?) I'm going to ovulate next. Right now, I'm still in limbo. My period still hasn't shown up, so I could be pregnant. As long as I don't know, as long as I don't take that test, I'm not officially NOT PREGNANT.

I know this is dumb. I'm setting myself up for disappointment. It means holding toilet paper inches from my face trying to detect if my discharge really is slightly brownish, or if it's just the poor lighting in my office's bathroom (I'm totally grossed out I've done this more than once today). It means that I'm totally kidding myself.

I know my body. I know it can be a real dick. I know that I'm about to get my period. I've been doing this since I was in sixth grade. I know what menstruation looks like. I'm just still desperately trying to hold out and be one of those women that just "took a test and SURPRISE! PREGNANT! I had no idea!"

I'm never one of those women. I'm the woman with period butt.

And the Award Goes To...

Since it's Hollywood Award season right now, and I'm one of those freaks OBSESSED with watching all of the award shows and live-tweeting them, let's just say I'm in the mood for this one. 

Thanks to Kelsey at KinderCoaster for nominating me for the a Liebster Award. Of course, I'm totally flattered just to be nominated, but I'll admit I'm probably only going to play along for half of this thing. Kelsey is a wonderful blogger--I just read her whole adventure start to finish recently (yes, I have job where I can do this sort of thing). She's a fellow infertile, and also a fabulous first grade teacher. Her art projects are just adorable! Check her out.

There are some rules I think I'm supposed to post, and nominate others, but I'll just answer her questions. If you are reading this, consider yourself nominated! (And you can also steal Kelsey's questions to me, because I'm not creative enough to make up my own.)

This also feels like those email forwards in junior high I used to be obsessed with...so here's a little reliving of my dorky past.

Kelsey's questions to me:
1. What is a little-known fact about yourself?
Before I ever wanted to be a mom, I always, always wanted to be an aunt. I hate that I'm not a mom, and that I'm still not an aunt either. My sister separated from her husband a few years ago, and my husband's brother is 23 and not likely to get married/have children anytime soon (and probably shouldn't be allowed to...he lives on our basement couch occasionally and still thinks "shower" and "lots of Axe body spray" are interchangeable). If I can't be a mom, I'd at least like to be a really great aunt. This seems like a double unfair card I've been dealt to not be either.

2. What are your favorite hobbies?
I love playing year-round volleyball and softball in the summer. So I guess my hobbies are sports. I also like crafting and thrift-store shopping.

3. What bores you to tears?
Science. Anything involving lots of math and numbers. Most documentaries.

4. Favorite genre or type of reading?
I love memoir. This probably started when I was a writing major in college and we read a ton of non-fiction. I like the personal quality and good writers create really compelling non-fiction essays and memoirs.

5. Book recommendations?
JoAnn Beard's Boys of My Youth is way up there on my list of memoirs--it's definitely what influenced my senior writing capstone. Tina Fey's Bossypants was hilarious. One of the best books I read last year (I know, late to the game) was Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's not a memoir, but the style is written like nonfiction and it was fantastic.

6. Most annoying thing to hear as an infertile woman?
"Why don't you guys have kids?"/"When are you going to have kids"

7. Do you have pets? Tell me about them! 
No pets. I desperately want a dog. Specifically this dog. I'm just kidding, that thing is not a dog. I'd really love a golden retriever, lab, or German shepherd. My husband is not sold on pet ownership--I know he's right; we're really way too busy to be good pet parents right now.

8. Are you an Early Bird of Night Owl? By choice or by circumstance?
I'm actually neither. I hate, hate, hate getting up early in the morning. I get up around 7:15 a.m. and manage to get to work by 8. And I hate it. I would sleep til noon every day if I could. But I'm not really a night owl either. I'm wiped out by 10 p.m. (sometimes earlier). I'm really more of a 1:30 p.m kind of girl.

9. Guilty pleasure/s?
Bubble baths, Netflix, Project Runway, gummy candy--best if used in combination, like on a home-alone, Saturday-night binge.

10. Best piece of advice/encouragement for others on the IF journey? AND/OR Please share any infertility-related, Oprah-style "Aha Moments."
Well, I'm the wrong girl for advice. I'm pretty new to infertility, and it's a big struggle all the time. I have not really found a good balance of being hopeful and constantly being disappointed.

My encouragement is to find others going through infertility and join forces--either real life friends or through the blogging community. We all need support. Even if it's just someone to say "that sucks, I'm sorry." Infertility feels incredibly lonely already; finding friends is so necessary.

**Now forward to 10 friends and your crush will surprise you with a secret. If you don't, you will have bad luck next week and your crush will start dating your worst enemy...**

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Do Believe in Fairies

Today is Cycle Day 31. No period. Not even a hint of sore boobs. No breaking out. No cravings. No bloating.

My last cycle was 26 days, so I guess my period is late. However, my average cycle length (according to the app on my phone) is 47 days, so I guess I still have a ways to go. This is why I hate my body. I haven't tested yet because I hate, hate, hate seeing Not Pregnant yelling at me from a urine-soaked stick. I'd rather be surprised by underwear full of blood, as gross as that is. I'll test on Cycle Day 35. Maybe.

This is also unfortunate because it means my two-week wait is really more like three weeks or more. And waiting is not something I'm good at. Because when I wait, I consult Dr. Google. I read forums. I find evidence that I'm pregnant. I calculate a due date. I figure out when I can tell my parents. I think of a clever way to tell Bobby.

And then the little fantasy is over, and I feel like an idiot.

I want to stay positive. I don't want to become cynical. But cynicism has become a security blanket to protect me from inevitable disappointment. For many years, I would comment "when we have kids..." about something I want to do, or something I'll never do. It was natural. I always assumed I would have kids. But I've found myself not using this phrase anymore. I don't know if any of my friends or family have noticed, but I'm careful about it, because I'm much less sure that I will have kids someday. Sometimes I'll say "if I ever had a kid..." in a way that sounds off-handed, totally non-committal, almost like I don't care either way.

I played Tinkerbell in our school's Peter Pan play my junior year. The most terrifying moments of the performance were late in the second act as I lay on the ground, very sick, and nearly dead after drinking the poison Captain Hook had left for Peter. After furiously shaking me, Peter ran to the edge of the stage and admonished the crowd to once again believe in fairies. And if they did believe, to clap their hands, so I could get well and live again. Every night of the performance, I lay there terrified that the crowd wouldn't respond. What if no one clapped? Or thought it was dumb to participate? What if only a few responded? Should I get up after a pause anyway and continue? Should I just keep lying there until they clapped? I had a near panic attack every night.

WHAT IF NO ONE BELIEVED IN FAIRIES?

But they clapped. Oh, how they clapped! Thankfully, we had wonderful crowds every night, and they gladly participated to help me live. Each night, I'd glance at the audience through my eyelashes as I lay there during Peter's long speech to them. Many of them--mostly adults--leaned forward in anticipation, already prepared to begin clapping for me, even before Peter Pan made the request: If you believe in fairies, clap your hands! I loved that for even just those few moments, they allowed themselves to be caught up in the fantasy--perhaps remembering the childhood story and films of their past--and anxious to relive those feelings. For just those few brief moments, they believed in fairies.

I've often wondered about "believing." I know that I believe in God, and in Jesus, and the love of my Heavenly Father that covers me and saves me. I believe that God is absolutely in control and knows and cares about my infertility. He didn't cause it, but he allowed it. I believe he could change it, but I also believe God respects the science he has created. And sometimes science, biology, nature...it isn't fair. I believe that God is faithful and always keeps his promises to us. But God never promised that he's going to give me a baby. 

What about other things I believe in? Do I believe there is really power in positive thinking? I know women who subscribe to Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques, and swear by the power of "positive energy" and "picturing themselves pregnant" while receiving acupuncture and doing yoga. Some of them got pregnant, some didn't. Were the ones who didn't, the ones who didn't believe enough? The ones who didn't really picture themselves pregnant?

So, on Cycle Day 31 when there's nothing left to do, sometimes I'll take a few moments at my desk at work, or sneak into the guest bedroom at home. I'll wrap my arms around my belly, breathe deeply and imagine I'm really pregnant. I take cleansing breaths, filling my lungs with all kinds of positive thoughts.

And sometimes in these moments, I let myself believe in fairies.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When to Say Enough

I'm just barely down the road of this infertility journey. If I look back, I can still see the the cozy home I left only a short distance behind me. I was a newlywed, still on birth control, desperately trying NOT to get pregnant because we lived in a studio apartment and because we wanted a few years to enjoy being young and childfree.

It was August 2012. My birth control pills ran out earlier that spring, we ditched the condoms on our second wedding anniversary--August 14, 2012. In less than a month, we'll hit 1.5 years of trying to conceive. Of course, on and off during those 1.5 years, we'd use condoms again for a few months. I'd figure out that I didn't want to give birth during volleyball season--thinking I could still keep coaching if I wasn't "too" pregnant or had a small child.

I know that 1.5 years is a quick blink compared to the lengthy infertility journeys many bloggers are currently on. I know that I'm only 25 (for a few more weeks), and that my chances are significantly better than those a decade older than me. In some ways, that makes it worse. I'm in prime baby-making years, and yet my body is still failing me. I should be incredibly fertile right now, perfectly suited for carrying and delivering babies, but something is wrong. Things are not working as they should.

Every single month, starting my period or getting a negative pregnancy test is heartbreaking. If I really do the math, it's probably only been about 10-12 months. That doesn't seem like that many when I look at it, but every one of those months has been painful. Every month, I look in the mirror, at the sad eyes of girl who's belly and arms are still empty and ask how long will I keep doing this.

And every single month I wonder when I'll decide I've tortured myself long enough.

When do I give up, cry Uncle! and decide that I just can't keep going through this anymore?

I know that saying enough is an intensely personal choice. And it looks different for everyone. Sometimes, the choice to stop treatments on yourself is the choice to use a surrogate or the choice to become a foster parent or adopt. For some, it's the choice to focus on being the greatest aunt in the world while living childless.

But here's the thing. I'm not actually doing any infertility treatments. Heck, I'm not even competently charting my temperatures. I quite buying OPKs. The only thing I'm actively doing to combat infertility (other than marathon sexing with my super hot husband) is keeping a notebook of dates when my period has started over the last year and a half. And that's likely the way it will stay.

I know this makes me rare, but IVF is not for us. I thought I might come around on the idea the more I've read infertility bloggers' stories. But I haven't. Deep in my heart, and even in my mind, I know that it's not the right choice for us. It's totally my opinion, but I didn't come to it lightly. I'm so happy that science has something like IVF available to women. I think it's an amazing option for many couples, and the right choice for them. But it's not for me.

I know there are many options in between unprotected sex and IVF, and we would consider them. But we're not there yet. Right now, our "infertility treatment" is going to be continuing to have unprotected sex, an option we could legitimately sustain indefinitely. It's not breaking our bank (although Pre-Seed is pretty darn expensive for a tiny tube!), so we really could keep "trying" forever.

But it's not the "trying" that's the hard part. It's the failing. It's staring at blood in my underwear every single month and wondering what I'm doing wrong, what am I missing that's making this not work right. Why the heck was this cycle only 26 days when the last three have been over 35? It's the waiting. It's avoiding caffeine for two weeks every month, refusing Advil, and cutting out lunch meat. It's the hours I spend googling, reading, and crying in the shower, wondering why I can't just spontaneously get pregnant like everyone else.

When do I say "Enough!"? When do I go back on the pill and give myself a break from all of the heartache?

I know that 1.5 years isn't very long, but believe me, it's been long enough.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Statistics

Her living room was immaculate. Exactly what you'd expect from a professor of literature and the head of a liberal arts university's English department. When she entered the room, she handed me a cup of strong tea, with just the right hint of peppermint. Even in her own home--out of the classroom, away from the university campus--she looked sophisticated and polished. She drew her legs beneath her in the high-backed paisley chair opposite of me and studied the fireplace.

"I know you're struggling with your project, Lilee. That's why I invited you here."

She wasn't my academic adviser, and I had only taken two of her classes. I was genuinely surprised she'd taken an interest in my studies.

"I heard your talk in Hagen's office. You're worried about your Statistics project." Her eyes were soft, no judgement.

"I'm not good at numbers, things like that confuse me. I'm not sure I'm going to pass the class." I was worried about my grade. I was worried that I was too stupid to understand how I even needed these statistics in my future career. And with the final project looming, I was making myself sick over all of it.

"Lilee, I have a son," she said, her gaze was intent on the fire.

I didn't know this. She had never mentioned this in class. I knew she was unmarried--and I had wrongly assumed she also childless.

"Oh?" I think I said. Or something else equally inane.

"His name is Thomas. He's 24--only a few years older than you."

I didn't respond. The way she was talking made me nervous. I immediately sensed there was something...different about Thomas. I waited for her to unfold the story.

"I was young when I got pregnant. My college boyfriend didn't stick around to help care for Thomas. To him, to the doctors, to everyone, Thomas is an incredibly rare statistic. One in four hundred thousand."

I was starting to see where this was going. I swallowed. "I'm so sorry."

"Thomas was born with a rare disease. He's improved from birth, but there are still complications." She paused. "One in four hundred thousand. Those are pretty good odds, right?"

I studied my hands in my lap. "I guess."

"Of course they are! I'd take those odds any day. You see, Lilee, statistics are tricky things. For you, you've probably never heard of cloacal exstrophy, because you're young, and it's rare. Why would it even be something you'd worry about?

But for me, and for Thomas, being the one in four hundred thousand, it's everything. It was our whole life for many years, through many procedures and surgeries. Most people wouldn't worry about a statistic like one in four hundred thousand. But I do. And it's made me view all statistics differently now. Does this make sense?"

It did. My project took a new turn. I passed the class. And I've never forgotten Thomas.

I still worry about statistics, and that fear has been compounded once we started trying for a baby. I'd google everything, but anecdotal evidence on TTC forums, stats on WebMD, all of it was basically worthless. Apparently, I was the 1 in 8 that it takes longer than a year of unprotected sex to conceive. I was on the wrong side of "average" for my period to return to normal within a year of stopping birth control pills. Three weeks ago, my doctor told me the average, healthy couple will conceive within four months. Well, it's been 19 months. That four-month statistic does nothing for me.

I have fears about IVF success-rate statistics, because until a clinic can guarantee a 100% take-home baby rate, it doesn't really matter. It's not like you get 80% of a baby. For some people it works, for others it doesn't. I'm sure the couples with failed a IVF find no comfort in their clinic's 94% advertising sound-bite boasts.

And yet, I still look for statistics. What are the averages for a 25-year-old who's been trying for nearly two years? What is the success rate of monitored Clomid cycles? How many do most couples need? What are the odds my husband's sperm is normal?

I guess I'm still hoping that someday, I'll fall on the right side of these statistics.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BFF

Growing up, my mom was a teacher at my school. It meant I spent a lot of time at the school outside of classroom hours. She'd stay late for conferences, or grading papers, or cutting letters for bulletin boards, and I'd be forced to find something to do--or get asked to help. The summer before my fifth grade year, the school hired a new teacher. She had a daughter, Emma, who would also be starting fifth grade.

It was perfect. My sister was three years older than me, entering her teenage years, and totally uninterested in playing with a boring 10-year-old. But a new teacher's kid meant I had a built-in friend. Someone who would also be stuck at the school after hours. Not only did we have that starting point, we had basically everything else in common. We both loved volleyball and would spend hours in the fall peppering on the schoolyard until it got dark. We were both budding writers, and we'd pass a notebook full of adventure stories back and forth writing a book, one chapter at a time. We had the same taste in music, the same mocking critiques of our teenage older sisters, and the same level of boy-craziness--not enough to be like the "other" girls that we made fun of, but enough to pass notes about Don's new haircut or Josh's cute jeans.

We were inseparable. In the spring of our sixth grade year, one afternoon, Emma passed me a desperate note: I started Number Three. I instantly scribbled something back--words of solace and sympathy--"Number Three" was our code for period. I have no idea why, but it had it's own secret hand signal. The other girls in our class made fun of Emma. Some were obviously jealous of her "womanhood." I promised her we'd get through this--we'd figure out tampons together. I kid you not, two days later my period started. Of course, that made all of the other girls even more jealous. We were part of this secret club with the junior high girls now--we were women. No other girls in our class started menstruating for at least two years. Somehow, that sealed that our friendship was something special.

In high school, we spent every weekend at each others' houses. We both started playing varsity volleyball as freshman--and endured the hazing together. She was the starting middle hitter and I was her setter. Her boyfriend (now husband) even lived at Bobby's house for a few months his senior year. It made for perfect date nights for our new four-some. I've shared every secret I've ever had with Emma, and she with me. We made it through break ups, parents' job changes, different universities, and marriage. Emma and I waited together, both in long-term relationships while everyone around us got engaged and married. After five years, her boyfriend proposed to her--two weeks before Bobby proposed to me. We were in each others' weddings--only two months apart.

After a year of marriage, Emma and her husband moved across the country. It was the first time we were really far apart. We'd gone to different universities, but we were only ever a few hours away. And we'd plan our weekends home together, or spend the night in each others' dorm room. But this move--it was hard. At the time, Emma was really the only friend I had left with no children. And now she was several states away. She still came home to visit her family for holidays, and we always picked up where we left off. We could talk for hours with no awkwardness between us--despite having neither seen or spoken to one another in months. We'd talk about kids--how EVERYONE had them so fast, but neither of us shared why we didn't have our own kids--other than "not wanting to yet."

This August, I was at a Vikings pre-season game and received a text from Emma. So...Remember that promise we made each other when we got married about having kids? I felt like I swallowed my heart. I knew instantly.

I texted back: No...are you pregnant?

Yes. And you better be too by next week!

Ha. Um no thanks. But yay for you!

I was losing my best friend. I just knew it. This changed everything. She sent me a long email later that week explaining that she'd been really sick and being pregnant wasn't what she expected. She ended with, I feel like a traitor to young married women without kids everywhere. I'm counting on you to keep me sane and let me secretly vent about how ridiculous young mothers are. I NEED you.

This was it. I wrote back that I'd been off birth control for over a year and half and that we were "sort of" trying. She instantly answered, gushing that they too had started trying right around the same time we had, but (same as me) once she went off the pill, she didn't get her period for the first year. However, they were moving ahead with their plans to move overseas. She'd even begun researching fertility doctors in their area, but with the new job, they would be spending a year or so living in Iowa, getting ready.


So...for the many conversations over nearly two years where the two of us would talk about how ridiculous it was that EVERYONE we knew was pregnant and obsessed with kids...we were both secretly trying to get pregnant and both struggling through infertility.

Emma's baby is due in a few weeks. She's invited me to come stay with them this weekend (they live in Iowa now--yay! much closer!) and spend quality best friend time together before this baby comes. Part of me is so excited to see her, part of me isn't. I don't like talking about babies. I've stopped hanging out with many of my close friends because all they talk about is babies...and they don't seem to get the hint that I'm not interested. I hope, hope, hope that things with Emma will be different. I'm hoping that because she knows some of our story, she will be sensitive. Yes, she's enormously pregnant--it's hard to ignore--and I do want to hear SOME about this baby, I hope the focus on our weekend can be on other things.

Mostly, I feel incredibly afraid that this is the last time that Emma and I will be in the same life stage. From now on, she will always have a kid and I won't. Even if I have a baby in the next few years, she'll still be "ahead" of me. She'll be talking toddlers and preschool, while I'll still be in breastfeeding and bassinets. I know the core of our relationship will never change, but losing even just part of what makes us so close is heartbreaking.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Au Naturel

Yesterday I replenished my drink cabinet with Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, I did 40 minutes of "fertility yoga," and stocked up on all kinds of healthy food.

I considered calling my acupuncturist and scheduling something with her again--although I haven't seen her in nearly a year. And she's expensive. The tea was $3 in the health food section, the yoga was free on Youtube, and the healthy food needed to be bought anyway (our holiday and post-holiday eating has been VERY bad).

Right now, I'm choosing to go natural. I'm not sure I believe the yoga does anything to help my infertility, but I could definitely stand to be more flexible. I don't know if I believe that the tea is anything other than a warm drink--but I like tea. And it's still really cold here.

BUT...I'm not sure I have to believe all these homeopathic remedies for them to work.

I guess I'm in the camp of it's not hurting me, so why not? Nothing I do believe in has worked so far, maybe something natural will.

I saw an acupuncturist last year around this time. It was during the stretch from November 2012 to March 2013 where I didn't get a single period. I saw her 4-5 times from December to February. I liked it. Even then, I'm not sure I believed it was going to work, but it was sort of a panic move after my doctor saw me in November and didn't do anything to help me. I needed to do something. So, I let some lady stick needles in my body while I listened to Enya in a really, really warm room. I treated it more like a massage or a visit to a tanning bed than medicine. It made me relax, take some time for myself, and leave feeling better--rejuvenated--though probably not cured. The sessions were something like $90, and I couldn't justify continuing to go every week. I saw her for nearly three months and my period still hadn't returned. I just quit scheduling sessions and came to the conclusion that acupuncture just didn't work for me.

It was disappointing, but I got busy. During the summer I play community softball on Tuesdays and sand volleyball on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I'm so busy and enjoying the freedom to be outside doing something I love three nights a week, I tend to not dwell on my infertility.

But the winter is the worst. It's my break from coaching. I'm stuck inside many nights, and because of this I let my working out schedule slide. My preferred exercise is running. I don't do well with treadmills, ellipticals, or videos. I like to be on pavement, hair in the wind, sweat running down my face, physically pushing my legs to go farther, faster. No indoor workout has ever felt that way. Since I live in Minnesota, I can't get outside until at least March during the good years, generally closer to April or May if I want to avoid freezing my lungs or slipping on icy sidewalks. Since I'm inside so much, just sitting around snacking and getting fat, I tend to think about infertility ALL THE TIME.

So, it was time for a plan. And somehow that plan ended up being "go natural." I'm trying to eat healthy, lose some of that holiday weight, go herbal, and do yoga. It's not a great plan, but it's something for now while I save money for a real plan.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Finding My Thing

There are a lot of things I'm not very good at. Math, for one. Or bowling, skiing, walking in high heels, cooking, science, mornings. Plus, many, many other things, I'm sure.

Here's the thing: I really believe that everyone has at least one "thing" that they are amazing at. Like, could go to the Olympics in that category if it were to exist. This belief is why I constantly try new things--because I haven't found my thing yet. I can play piano and guitar, but I'm not awesome. I'm a good volleyball player, but not Kerri Walsh. I can sing on tune, but I'm no star. I haven't found my thing yet.

What I did find out this week though, is that my thing is definitely not Basil Body Temping. Add that to the list of things I'm bad at. A year or so ago, I tried it for the first time for a couple months. My cycles were like 60-75 days long, and I wasn't really ovulating. There was no pattern, so I gave up.

A few days ago, I decided to give it another go (I started on like CD11, so...not sure what the plan was there exactly...). I've been temping for three days, and I already know I'm bad at it. The plan was to temp immediately when my alarm goes off at 6:04 a.m., even though I normally hit snooze for about an hour while Bobby gets up and ready for work. However, the last three days, I've woken up around 4 a.m. and only kind of fallen back asleep. I'm basically lying there restlessly for a few hours before taking my temp--not exactly ideal for consistent results. 

But--I'm not about to start setting my alarm at 4 a.m. to take my temp then. That is not a pattern I really want to get into. Not to mention how annoying that would be to Bobby who has to be at work by 7 a.m. My doctor suggested I get back into temping, though I'm not sure it's going to tell me anything, other than I'm a bad sleeper. And it's frustrating because I used to fall asleep moments after lying down and only wake up after my alarm went off, feeling like I'd been in a coma for a year. I was such a hard, deep sleeper for most of my life. And now, the only time when that would be useful, I can't sleep for more than a few hours in a row.

My mother-in-law has recently become involved with essential oils and herbal supplements. She keeps suggesting I take Melatonin for sleep (only when I mentioned I wasn't sleeping well, she doesn't know we're TTC). I'm afraid to even google that, because I'm sure all get all kinds of conflicting results.

My question is, has anyone had success with BBT?--and how! Share you secret! Or whatever essential oil helps you sleep (lavender probably)? Or Melatonin?

Also...if you have found your "thing," what is it?

The Dark Side

What I'm about to write is going to be grumpy, depressing, and snarky.

I'm not like this in real life, I promise. I'm a really happy person. My nickname in high school was "Bubbles." The adjective most often used to describe me is probably "quirky." My laugh is loud and out of control. People think I'm funny--even my high school kids who are too cool to think anything is funny. I feel like I need to include this disclaimer because this blog is a sad, depressing read. But that's because it's the one place I allow myself to be angsty.

My husband and I recently started watching Dexter on Netflix (late to the game, I know, but we follow like 30 shows already, it's hard to keep up!), and I commented on how unnecessary all the voiceover is. I find it over the top in driving home that "tortured soul" point just a little too hard. And sometimes I feel like I'm doing that with this blog. I know you get it. Infertility sucks. My experience sucks. Waiting sucks. Doctor's visits suck. It's all horrible. 

So this is probably a sad place to read, but it's because I'm always happy other places. My personal blog where I normally write is much lighter, and usually funny. It's where I write about my day, funny things that happen to me at the grocery store, pointless things I've been pondering, and dumb things I say to strangers. When I come here to write, I allow myself to be sad. 

Because all of these things need to be their own post, but I’m too sad to think about them, here’s a fun bullet point list of things that are making me mad/sad/annoyed/frustrated right now:
  • Finding out that one of the girls I used to coach is pregnant. She’s the first of my former players that I know of to get pregnant, as she was a senior the first year I started at my current school. I think she’s 20 or 21. She got married last summer to a guy who is in the Navy. They were married, moved to Georgia, spent less than two months together, and he’s been on a submarine ever since. And she’s pregnant. How’s that for timing? What the freaking heck?
  • My doctor said she didn’t want to put me on Clomid because she’s worried about multiples. I’m not totally convinced I’ve ovulated since coming off birth control. She’s worried about me having triplets when I can’t even get a normal period!?
  • My best friend is 35 (or 36?) weeks pregnant. They started trying right around the same time we did, and struggled with infertility for about 1.5 years. I just can’t imagine us not being in the same life stage anymore. We’ve been best friends since we were ten. It literally hurts my heart to think about.
  • We spent New Year’s Eve with friends, several of whom commented in passing on how we “need a few kids.” Of course this was mostly after Bobby was playing with the host’s kids and being awesome, because he’s like that. Honestly, if I were with someone else (who was a little less passionate about children), I may never have kids. I’d really like them, but I’ve never been baby crazy. I didn’t babysit as a teenager, I’m the youngest sibling. I was like 17 before I changed my first diaper. No one’s ever said, “Oh you’d make such a great mom!” And you know what, I’m not sure I will. I’ll be okay. Average, probably. But Bobby...everyone comments on how good he is with kids. He’s literally best friends with all the kids in the room only minutes after walking in. He’s just awesome at it. Countless times I’ve heard how great he’ll be as a dad. And it hurts that I can’t make him one.
  • I have so many “plans” for what kind of parent I want to be. I want to break down gender boundaries, especially for my girls. I’m going to discipline, even though it’s not popular. I’m going to have respectful, functioning humans who don’t think the world revolves around them. I’m going to show that I can be a “working mom” without being a “tired mom.” I refuse to believe that “Pinterest stress” is a real thing, and I’m going to break down this ridiculous “mommy war” fad. And yet...there’s a very real possibility I won’t do any of those things. I may never be a mom.
  • I want to adopt. I always have. But I absolutely don’t believe that adoption is infertility treatment. I don’t want to adopt to give our family a child. I want to adopt to give a child a family. It’s not a solution for us—it’s a solution for the child who needs a family. This is still something I’m working through in my own mind, and something that’s hard for Bobby to understand.
  • There’s a couple in our church in their mid-30s who adopted two boys after struggling with infertility. I’d really love to talk to her about her journey. I know she’s somewhat open about it, because she has a blog, though it’s mostly about homeschool and recipes. She occasionally shares things about adoption, and she is a full-time foster care parent. I love what she’s doing—but I’m not sure how comfortable I feel asking her to tell me about her life. I don’t know her well, but I would like to. Why is it so weird to make friends when you’re an adult?! Why can’t it be like...look we have something in common, wanna share my juice box? Isn’t that what this whole blogging community is? It’s so easy here, but I know her in real life. There’s actual consequences...like she could be really uncomfortable and hate me. Or she could tell other people I’m infertile. Or we could end up being great friends. It’s a dilemma.

    I promise there are good things happening in my life too. We’re nearly done with our kitchen remodel. Things are really great at work. Bobby’s basketball team is doing well. I’m excited about some fantastic clothing finds from before Christmas. Someday I’ll write more about the good things. For now, I’m ranting.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Holidays

I took a hiatus from coming here over the holidays. I didn't write, I didn't read any of the blogs I follow. The plan was to find out I was pregnant on New Year's Eve, maybe earlier. I wouldn't even announce it here--just quietly delete this blog and slip out the infertility community. I would pretend to all my friends and family that we had always planned to get pregnant now, and never tell anyone we'd actually been trying almost two years.

On Christmas Eve, I got a surprise.

We were getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at church--dressing up, doing pretty hair for pictures, all the traditional stuff. I went to the bathroom shortly after supper to find my thong filled with blood.

Yup. Merry Christmas to me.

My cycle was 25 days long. No warning cramps, no bloating, no icky period feeling. After several months of 35-50 day cycles, this one was suddenly short and without any warning. And I was in the home of my single, never married, 63-year-old aunt.

Luckily, I found a tampon in my makeup bag, but I had to keep on my bloody underwear for the Christmas service--I didn't have much other choice, plus I'd already made it that far. What the bloody hell, right?

Though I am not proud of what I did next.

I still had to figure out something for overnight. I'm kind of sensitive, so I can't use tampons over night. I found a small panty liner in my suitcase (I have backup stuff shoved all over my traveling things, just never what I really need!), but I didn't have any extra underwear other than one thong to wear on Christmas Day.

Well...while I was getting ready for bed, I snuck into my aunt's room and "borrowed" some of her underwear. They were pretty much what you would imagine a single, 63-year-old woman wears. I cannot even explain how much Bobby made fun of me that night. But I am nothing if not resourceful.

I got through the holidays, and I'm currently on cycle day 15, so of course we're back to marathon sex sessions. It's also been in the -30s out, so I'm pretty sure we're not alone in that.

I had a doctor appointment on Jan. 2, and the first words out her mouth when she came in were, "Still not pregnant? Let's see what we can do." It was comforting, but nothing was really solved. She wants Bobby to get his sperm tested and for us to keep trying for 4-6 more months. That makes sense since my cycles are just starting to become regulated. I'm feeling better about our timing. If nothing happens in the next 4-6 months, she'll refer me to an RE. Apparently we'd only have to travel about 45 minutes, but that's still not very convenient.

I'm not sure we're ready for treatments yet. We're not quite there. Bobby still believes 100 percent that we'll conceive naturally. I hope he's right. Maybe I should listen to him more. He is always the one that's telling me make sure you pack extra underwear...