Saturday, April 2, 2011

Staying Sane During Fertility Treatments

I have been asked by a few people why I would put myself through this. You radically increase your hormone levels, put yourself at risk for health issues, put you and your spouse under immense emotional and financial stress, and they ask all for what? For the miracle of creating a life that came from us. For achieving my ultimate dream of becoming a mother, something I have always wanted to be. I have said each time I will do what it takes to have a baby. I will go through as many IUI's as they see necessary before trying IVF as many times as they think will give us the best shot. If none of these attempts work, my husband and I would like to adopt, eventually. What then, can a woman do, during all of this chaos, waiting and sometimes isolation to stay sane?

The answer, whatever you want and/or need to do for you. Each previous attempt, I would rush right back to work because I had a not so understanding boss. I would pretend I was fine, happy and it wasn't really bothering me to go through all of this. I felt compelled to keep up the normal routine of life to distract me. Well, that didn't work because I was distracted, not fine and my emotions changed by the hour. What I needed to do to "relax" was stop what I was doing. Not worry about my crazy boss, pretending to be fine or worry if I was going to offend someone or come off as "bitchy" at any time. I should have carried around a sign that said, "I apologize in advance for anything I say or do or any emotions that may arise at any time that seem to you unwarranted." To stay sane, I needed to stay away from my normal routine. I felt angry at times that people were just going about their business when I couldn't. I was stuck, just waiting to see if I would be pregnant.

There are many things women can do to "relax". I use that term lightly because who can really relax and be completely calm during these times?? Not all of them for work for every woman. You have to decide what's best for you.

One of the biggest ways I plan to use in the future is meditation. I have found several nature Cd's  that help to really calm my nerves when I'm stressed. They have classical music in the background of birds chirping and waterfalls, etc.  I plan to listen to those first thing in the morning and last thing at night to begin and end each day in a calm way. Whatever music you like, listen to it. FYI--I did a science fair project in eighth grade that proved any music you personally like, be it heavy metal, classical, rock, etc, can soothe your soul if that's what you prefer! I tested heart rates and everything so take my word for it!

The next, and probably most important thing to me, is to rely on God. You can't pray away your situation, you can only pray for him to get you through it. I have a fantastic daily devotional that I read every morning, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Yes, it is extremely hard to "give it up to God" and not worry, but at least try! It can't hurt.

The third mechanism for me to stay sane is to not work. I don't need the added stress. Not to mention, I watch small children for a living and that would be somewhat impossible while on bed rest. I know not all of you have this option, I feel very fortunate that my husband is willing and able to let me do this. This has to be the second biggest factor in me being able to relax. I highly suggest, if at all possible, planning lots of vacation time around your attempts to lessen your load!

Another option to reduce stress for me is reading. I love to read. It's an escape for me when I'm not going through treatment, so I will definitely be reading during the whole process. I have a Kindle and I'm all prepared to use it!

All of us will watch numerous movies and TV shows to "tune out" for a while. Just be careful what you're watching! If you missed it, check out my earlier post on some of those shows!

Love on your pets if you have any. They are your "kids" right now anyways, correct? Be careful on this one as well, larger dogs could hurt you! I unfortunately won't be able to be around my two pups because of how excitable they are around me. We don't want any ruined embryos or ruptured cysts!

Make your husband give you mini massages if he doesn't already. My poor husband knows this technique all too well. I carry all my stress in my upper back and neck. The poor guy gets sore hands from trying to relieve all that stress for me. Check with your doctor if you want to go get a massage from a massotherapist!

If you really want to shop online! Nothing like a little retail therapy to lift your spirits and release those endorphins when you're down.

Mani/pedi. Need I say more?

This one's a little dorky, but it works for me. Puzzles. I  love solving puzzles. It could be actual puzzles, or word searches, crossword puzzles, sudoku, etc. If it helps, do it!

Talking it out. Talk to someone who will listen! Yes, of course your husband, but even sometimes he doesn't want to listen. Someone who is a true friend who may not even understand what you're going through, but is at least willing to hear you out and help calm your fears and anxieties (both of which, I have many!).

To do the above mentioned suggestion, you may want to join websites like Resolve and Inspire. I have links to both of those on the right side of my page. There you will find all kinds of infertile women, just like you! Inspire has been a huge confidence booster for me. There are women who get it and will cheer you on each and every day. It's fantastic!

Spend quality time with your husband where you aren't talking about what's going on with your ovaries. Find something that both of you can do together. That helps you, him and your relationship survive this stressful time.

If you are having a really hard time finding ways to pass the time and keep your mind off it, just resort to stalking people on Facebook and Twitter! (Partially joking)

In all seriousness, it is up to you. What makes you calm and relaxed may not be what does the same for me. If we all could, I would say take a vacation to somewhere tropical. But flying isn't good for the situation!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things You Really Shouldn't Say to An Infertile Woman

We've all heard them. The thoughtless comments or advice given by complete strangers and even our own closest friends or family. They say them trying to be helpful, but end up rocking your world with how rudely it came across. Words hurt even when they aren't meant to. I have heard these more times than I can count and I just want to scream every time someone says them to me!
10. You're still young, you've got plenty of time. You really shouldn't worry that much about it.
             --Thanks. I've been infertile since I can remember and will still be as long as I live, but you're right. I am young. Maybe it will happen in a few years for me. Oh wait, nope. I'll still be barren.

9.  Just adopt. I hear stories all the time of people adopting and then they end up pregnant.
             --This is a very real possibility for me and I don't take it lightly. I will after I continue to try to have my own baby that comes from the love of my life. We can't get to that point yet and how can you use those words so matter-of-factly? Have you ever faced the decision to adopt? No? Then don't give advice on it.

8. Just relax! You're trying too hard! 
            --One of my favorites which I am SURE you have all heard. Do you know how complicated conceiving a child actually is? For everything to magically line up at the exact right time is basically a miracle all by itself. So don't tell me to relax. If I relax, it doesn't mean my eggs will suddenly drop. It's not a matter of relaxing, it's a matter of saving up the money to grow follicles, which hopefully have eggs in them. Then hopefully those eggs are of good quality and so is the sperm. Hopefully they fertilize and create good quality embryos, which hopefully survive outside your body for a matter of days, only to be transferred back inside your body to hopefully attach like their supposed to if the environment is conducive enough for them. It's not a matter of me relaxing, it's a matter of science, but thanks!

7. Take a vacation. That's what I did and I ended up pregnant in no time!
          --Seriously? Let me refer you back to my response directly above! Being on vacation does not make my ability to conceive any more probable other than the fact than we would have more time to "try". But that wouldn't help, now would it?

6. Kids are overrated.
          --This one was a jaw-dropper for me. I couldn't believe what just came out of that person's mouth. How insensitive can you be? No, kids are not overrated, and how dare you say that to someone trying so incredibly hard to have them. If you have children, you are blessed! Accept it! Even if you said this to someone not knowing they are struggling with fertility, it's a thoughtless and unnecessary comment regardless.

5. My kids are driving me crazy!
         --I get it. Kids can be nuts sometimes and you do need breaks for yourself, your spouse and general relaxation away from kids. But honestly, I would give anything to be in your shoes. So if you could not complain about your kids to me, that would be great.

4. I have "X" number of kids, take one of mine!
        --Okay, this one strikes nerves every time I hear it. Again, insensitive. If you are a friend of someone who struggles with infertility, you really need to be more careful about what you say. Do a little research about infertility. Even though you won't completely understand it, it might help you to not be so careless with your words.

3. Have you prayed about it? Give it up to God.
        --Done and done. I assure you I have a strong faith and that I pray about it every day. Thanks for asking though. Feel free to pray all you want, and I know it is up to God's plan, but come on. Don't ask someone that question without truly knowing them first. I am a strong believer and in fact, newly elected leader of my women's group at church. I understand that I have to do the work of relying on Him in this struggle, but these procedures wouldn't be available, in my eyes, without God wanting them to be. Therefore, praying to naturally conceive a child won't work. I know I am physically "broken" and need extra help in that area to conceive a child. My faith in God will help me to understand this path I have to take, not magically make it disappear.

2. Do you have any children? Not yet. Oh well, enjoy it then!
        --I mean, really?!? This is another comment you should never make to someone whether you know them or not. You never know their reasons for not having children. Don't assume it's by their choice.

1. Are you pregnant?
       --Never really wanted to hit a woman so hard in the face before this comment. This one was actually directed right at me during my many attempts at IUI. Now, again, NEVER make this comment to someone AT ANY TIME! In case you are unaware, women can gain weight during fertility treatments due to many factors. These can include but probably aren't limited to: hormone fluctuation, no ability to exercise, bloating from hyperstimulation and retaining water. There, now you know. Don't ever be that rude, ignorant, insensitive, careless or thoughtless again. Thanks for ruining my day/week/month, I really appreciate it! You have a fantastic day though!

While it's not necessary to tip-toe or "walk on eggshells" around us, just try to use some common sense. As I mentioned above, if you are friends with someone going through this, do your homework. Don't pass judgment because YOU REALLY DON'T KNOW and don't give blind advice that probably wasn't asked for in the first place.  What we really need is someone to listen, someone to be there for good days and bad days. Infertility is such a hard struggle because it is so completely emotional and hormonal and it changes day to day. One day it could be a mood-lifter to search for baby clothes or items you "might" want on your registry. The very next day or week those same items can make the person want to bawl their eyes out for hours. Be sensitive and intentional with your thoughts and actions. Please. You don't know how much your words and actions can affect and/or hurt someone with infertility.

Which Infertility Myth should I bust?

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24-30th!

Hi everyone! I need your help. There is a challenge through RESOLVE's website. I can submit my blog for an award during that week if I have the best posting on a mythbuster about infertility. So all of you out there, which myth should I bust?? Let me know if there's one that's really bothered you or someone you know. Personally, I like when everyone tells you to just stay calm, relaxed and it will happen if you just stop trying. Awesome, right? I know there's a bunch out there so let me hear your ideas! Thanks and I'll be doing another post soon so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I am not a teen mom, octomom, or a pregnant lady in heels

Thanks to all of you out there following me! I can't believe all the responses and positive feedback I am getting. I am doing this for all of you! I am open to any questions you might have or ideas for posts. I can research something you weren't sure about and find the answers! Let me know and I will do all I can to help you out!

Now on to my rant about current tv options for women that are less than appealing to all of us out there struggling with fertility. Who else is annoyed by shows such as Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Kate Gosselin (should she really still be on tv?), the octomom, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant (a personal favorite of mine) and the newest one to hit the airwaves, Pregnant in Heels? Seriously? Oh wait, did I mention the Dugger lady and her too many to keep counting??  I get the fascination, but wow. I feel bombarded with guilt, shame and embarrassment every time I turn on the tv these days. Look at how easy it was for all of them! Why then, am I having such difficulty? I want to see a reality show of women going through fertility treatments. I realize the stress of going through the procedures is enough as it is without being on television, but something should be out there for information and comfort. I have even gone so far as to email the Discovery Channel, TLC, and National Geographic (ok, not really the last one) and pitch the idea to them. With statistics approaching about 1 in 4 women to be termed "infertile", you would think the trend in TLC's lineup would change just a little.  Just a thought I've had for a while. Thoughts?

TV watching is sometimes hard enough, but it becomes even more evident how infertile you are when it feels like everyone you know is pregnant. That was me last year during my 4 IUI and 1 IVF attempts. Nothing against my friends who were, I love you, but I wasn't pregnant. That's all I thought every time I saw you. I counted them all up and at one point or another last year I knew personally 9 pregnant women. Thank God I didn't have to go to 9 baby showers! That is hard! Buying baby gifts for others when all you want is just to buy them for your own baby. My poor husband was my only shoulder to cry on at that point. I didn't want to make my friends feel bad for being so blessed to be pregnant. I was happy for them, but I was just as equally unhappy that I was not pregnant. What's worse is being on the hormone shots at the same time. I believe I had some of the worst hormone raging rants! But I couldn't help it. That's just it, people who haven't been through this, don't get just how emotional you become. It's out of your control. If not a reality show, at least a sitcom of this part of a woman's life, I believe, would be completely humorous to watch. I mean, can you imagine all the crazy, emotional woman storylines they could come up with? I could give them half of their season just by listing off mine!

Well I'll save all future rants for when I'm on my shots in May so you all can see just how "colorful" they are! My husband will love the fact he won't have to be the only one to listen to them this time around!

Thanks again to everyone out there for your support and kind words. This has been an idea of mine for a year now and I'm so happy I decided to go ahead with it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not ovulating is not "lucky"

Back in high school when I was the "lucky" one amongst all my friends for not having a period, I had a sinking feeling I would have trouble having children in the future. My mom took me to the doctor to see if something was wrong and I was referred to a fertility specialist right off the bat. I didn't think much of it since he told me after the exam I shouldn't have much trouble getting pregnant when it was my time. 8 years later, I believe he's eating his words.

I continued seeing this doctor though since he kept reassuring me he could get me pregnant with little trouble whenever I was ready. Again, I began to question thi in the back of my mind. He was my regular OB/GYN and I decided to just trust him. He was the specialist. He knew what he was doing. He sent me every few years for an MRI making sure I still didn't have a benign tumor in my head (for what reason, he never made clear to me). I trusted his judgment--he was the expert. All throughout college I decided not to worry about it and continue being the "lucky" one without a period.

Then I got married. I asked my doctor again if I would have trouble getting pregnant. He said I would be fine with a little help from some medication. I asked if he meant Clomid and he shook his head yes. But he didn't elaborate any further. So I went with that. Whenever my husband and I were ready, we would just go to him for the medication and instantly be pregnant.

Well 2 years ago, we were ready. He took me off the pill 6 months ahead of when we wanted to start trying with the "medication". Of course no miracle so we ended up back in his office. Another MRI showing no tumor and we were cleared for fertility treatments. Wait, what? I thought he said I would only need medication. Hmmm. A little confused, but again, he was the expert. He asked me to come back and we would sit down and talk about my options/plan. My husband had to work that day so I went solo. I should never go solo to doctor's appointments. I hear one thing and I run with it! Then I get confused, panic and leave the office feeling completely anxious and nauseated because of all the words swirling in my head.

From what I "remember" about that appointment, I should have written things down! I remember my doctor explaining that we were not going with Clomid because it wouldn't work for me. However, he didn't explain why and I was so anxious I didn't even ask why. He just explained we would be doing IUI and starting me on some shots to help stimulate my eggs. To show how much I was confused, I even went so far as to ask, "well, how many times and when are we supposed to, you know, have sex to conceive? Isn't it like every other day?"  He just looked at me, smirked and said, "that's the point. You won't have to."  Oh, I thought to myself.  Don't I feel dumb. Okay, he's the expert. He left abruptly and said the nurse would answer any questions I had.  I couldn't think straight enough at that point, but the nurse went on to explain more about how we have to come back in for more testing and a teaching session on how to give the shots. Now, if you knew me all growing up, you would know that I had a TERRIBLE fear of shots. I can't even give blood because I faint. Well, I thought to myself, this should be interesting. What the heck did I just sign up for?

We went back for the lesson on shot-giving, which my husband is fully capable and good at doing (he's a pharmacist who gives flu shots every year). Yet, I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to give myself the shots. I wanted to overcome my fear for my future children. I had a hand (at least a little bit) in helping to create a new life inside of me by giving myself these shots. Easier said than done. When the time came for my first shot, I believe I started hyperventalating as I was sanitizing the spot on my belly. I even called my mom over in case I passed out since my husband was at work. I had to give myself the shots because they had to be given at the same time each day and his work schedule varied so I had no choice! Well, with a little handshaking, cringing and a little bruising afterward, I DID IT! Each time after that I was able to give myself the shot as well. That is one of my proudest achievements, as silly as that sounds. Not to mention a good way of de-sensitizing yourself since all fertility treatments involve are shots and blood tests. If only that would have been it. Little did I know it wouldn't work that easily and that would not be even close to the last simple "medication" I would need to get pregnant.

So looking back on it, not having a period, not so "lucky". From time to time, I did feel lucky. Especially in summer when it didn't matter what week we went on vacation and I never had to schedule pool time around any "special visitor".  Now, I would give anything not to be the lucky one. Not ovulating sucks.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don't think you're alone

For those of you who are struggling or have struggled with fertility issues, you feel absolutely isolated from your friends or parents or even other people with children. But you shouldn't have to. That is my purpose for this blog. I no longer want to feel isolated myself and I want to help other women in any way that I can. As a 28 year-old female, I have already had 4 failed attempts at IUI and 1 failed attempt at IVF over the past two years. My husband and I desperately want a family whether through our means or adoption. I am going to share our story of many experiences and I want to hear from you as well. I want to share ideas of how to get through the tough times, books to read, music to calm us, bible verses to rely on, new procedures to try, etc. You name it, I want to talk about it if it deals with infertility. We need to support each other and inspire each other with hope, alternatives and options! Let's walk this journey together and see where the end lies. I've known I would have to travel this road since I was 16 so I was more prepared than most. But it's still not an easy path for someone like me with unbelievable maternal instincts and qualities. I have lost and more importantly gained friends because of this struggle and I am starting to see the "bigger picture" out of all this. I know there is a reason for my struggle and I believe this blog comes out of that reasoning. I look forward to your thoughts and comments and sharing my experience with you. We will be gearing up for our next round of IVF in early June. Be ready for some VERY hormonal rants and blogs!