Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The emotional tests...

After spending the last couple of blogs sounding like I work for a fertility clinic, I thought I'd take the time to explain the non-biological side of things. Knowing that everyone is going to experience their own life struggles with a unique perspective, I realize I can only give you a taste of what it has been like for me. According to the message boards for fertility treatments and websites on dealing with infertility, I follow a pretty typical pattern.

Overview...Cycle Day (CD) 1 being the start of your period...

CD 1- Devastation as you are clearly not pregnant
CD 5- starting to feel hopeful despite your best efforts to remain realistic
CD 14- about the time you ovulate, you are super excited and trying hard if you get my drift...
CD 18- anxious beyond anxious, and over-analyzing any possible symptom that may or may not be directly related to pregnancy, even though it's way, way too early.
CD 21- for me anyway, I bounce between despair and hope, despair and hope...
CD 25 to start of next cycle- Depressed...Endometriosis gives you tons of painful symptoms as a preview of the hell you will experience when your period actually starts (for me, anyway). At this point, I pretty much know the battle for the month is lost.
CD 1- Devastation and repeat!

Sound like fun? It's not. Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride...I know I'm a Type A personality and a little more high-strung about things (my husband is looking at me like, "Ya think?") however, that doesn't diminish the anguish that even the most patient of souls experiences while on this ride. The worst part of the roller coaster is that you can't disembark. Well, you can, but that means you have chosen "child-free" living as infertility types like to call it (sounds pretty awful to me at this point). I suppose you could always take a break, but for me, I am scared of missing a chance. Even if I tried to take a break, I would still know when about I was going to ovulate and when I could start expecting symptoms one way or the again, I'm stuck on this ride until either I give birth, or hit menopause.

OK, so you deal with all that in a typical month, and that is just what you alone are dealing with. Add in, of course, your partner. He is at least disappointed and probably worried about you if not worried about the lack of success. Throw in your job and the turmoil that is life outside of you, and you can be totally sucked into a pit of despair. Your plate is pretty full, so little things drive you over the edge. For instance, you break one of your favorite glasses. It's completely your fault, the stars are aligned against you, [insert Higher Power] has abandoned you, etc. and so forth...not exactly a fun place to live.

Anytime you want something you can't get, your brain begins to home in on it. Suddenly I began to notice that everyone was pregnant. It sure feels that way. College teammates, sorority sisters, co-workers, and friends were all sharing their happy news. Even better, people that brag that they weren't even trying or are completely honest that it was not planned. I work in a high school, and thanks to sources like MTV glorifying teen pregnancy, I get to spend part of my time coming up with graduation plans for my teeny-bopper mothers-to-be! It's a combination of being hyper-focused on one thing, and the fact that 92% of the population doesn't have any problem conceiving.

In May, for instance I had three friends that were due on three consecutive days. I am genuinely thrilled for all of them, but it was also a punch in the gut because it reminded me of my own shortcomings. I found out about these pregnancies in early fall while BJ and I were still trying on our own. So it was especially difficult when May came around and I was no closer to getting knocked up than my husband was. I'm not an idiot, and I know that there is no finite number of babies that are allowed to be born in a given time period. Am I jealous? Of the fact that most other people don't have any problems, yes. That I have less than 2% chance of making a baby with my husband the romantic way while everyone else can, yes. But of their babies? Hell no. They are three of the cutest babies I've seen, and I'm thrilled that I may get to be a small part of their lives. Plus, when I do have a child, I totally expect to get a ton of hand-me-downs...and with the money we are spending, we could use it! (I'm kidding, but there are some months where it sure feels that way...)

Tons of fertility support services suggest not going to baby showers, not doing hospital visits, etc. Well, if it works for you fine, but the last thing I need is to ostracize my friends anymore than I already have. I got to visit one of the new moms and take her some dinner. I ended up holding that precious baby girl for hours. It totally re-energized my efforts and reminded me why I was putting myself and my husband through this Hell. I opened up to my friend about what we were dealing with and she was totally perfect about it. Very supportive and positive, and not being able to wait until I had super-chapped nips. She treated me normally which is just what I needed. Thanks!

The thing I struggle with the most when continuing to try to function in the "real world" is the stupid things people say. Maybe, it's being in the south, but apparently once you get married, it is an invitation for people to ask, "So, when are you gonna have kids?" I think even I'm guilty of this from before I had any clue I'd have difficulty. My plan had always been to be tenured before giving birth. So the first couple of years I carelessly answered with, "We'll probably start trying during our third year of marriage." No problem, right? Except, now lots of people knew when to start asking again, because we still haven't produced an heir. What do you say? If you say you are trying, you either end up with tons of unsolicited (not to mention totally unhelpful and frequently inaccurate) advice, or phrases like, "You aren't giving it enough time," and, my personal favorite, "It will happen when God wants it to happen." My response to that is He sure gave a lot of people the skills and talent to help those of us with fertility issues, and how do you know He doesn't want me to be knocked up right now, too? For the most part I find myself telling distant relatives and acquaintances that BJ and I are happy to have each other for the time being. The best part of this response is it's not even a lie. I can't imagine how I'd get through each day without him. I thank my lucky stars everyday to be matched with my perfect mate.

Recently I've hit a rash of, "why don't you just adopt?" As if wanting to have your own child is selfish?! None of the people who asked me this were childless, nor were they adoptive parents, so in hindsight it's easier to take it with a grain of salt. First off, neither BJ or I are ready to give up on the idea of having our own child, and no doctor has given us any reason to think it's impossible for us. Secondly, our odds of coming home with a baby after one round of IVF are higher than coming home with a baby from our first attempt at an open adoption. Domestic adoption is more expensive than even an IVF cycle. So right now we are choosing to spawn our own child with a little help.

Anyway, it probably doesn't sound like I'm the most fun to be around right now, and you are right. I have good days and bad, the bad can be real bad (like don't get out of bed, answer the phone or even turn on a tv, bad). There have been a few days where BJ gets to come home to un-showered wife still in her pjs weeping. My happy-go-lucky glow has certainly diminished. I'll be the first to admit that an anti-depressant wouldn't be a terrible idea, except for the issue of potential birth defects. (Have you seen those bad drug commercials? Well, I'm convinced...) Also, I have enough fleeting moments of hopefulness and excitement, that "happy pills" wouldn't allow me to experience, either. So I deal the old-fashioned way and try to keep myself super-busy. I try not to give myself time to be sad, which is definitely harder during the summers as a school employee. None of this seems like a permanent condition, and I do think my happy-go-lucky glow will come back, but I do feel forever changed by this experience. We take so much for granted, and I've had to take a step back and learn to re-appreciate the things I do have.

Peace out,

1 comment: