Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be Nice!

So if I've learned anything over the past 2 1/3 years, it is that the more you beat yourself up the more you live down to those ideas of yourself.  The uglier I felt, the less I cared about my appearance.  The fatter I felt the less I worked out and more I ate gluten.  The more I called myself lazy, the less I did.  I tore myself apart.  I got myself to the point that I felt like I deserved infertility.  I lived down to a person who I subconsciously thought DID deserve infertility.  I am pretty confident that I didn't invent this wheel.

We are human, and we want so much to control and understand everything.  We want good things to happen to good people, and bad things to only happen to bad people.  When it doesn't happen that way, we immediately try to pick apart why the bad thing happened.  Since we can't usually control the bad things, we turn to the "good person" and try to figure out the "reason" they deserved this.  It is a way for us to try to console ourselves and reason why it would/could not happen to us.  People do it all the time...think of the rape victim that was wearing a short skirt at night.  We blame her for wearing a short skirt or for being alone at night, or for both.  I must say, I've worn a short skirt before, and I've been alone at night, but I feel pretty confident saying I don't deserve to be raped. I may not be the prettiest, thinnest, smartest young woman in the world, but that doesn't mean I deserve cancer, to be abused, to have endometriosis or infertility.  Nobody does.  

So to occupy myself with all the free time I have while in nursing school, I am really working on not victim-blaming myself.  I mean, I'd be totally nowhere if it weren't for me. Not to mention, I don't foresee an immediate future where I wake up as Britney Spears, Katy Perry or Princess Kate, so I guess I'm stuck.  Therefore, I can choose to beat myself up all the time over what I don't have or can't do, or I can choose to be thankful and happy for what I do have.  

It's so easy to become so narrow-visioned when dealing with infertility...you put all your time, energy and assets into having a baby that you totally lose sight of everything.  When things don't go well, instead of turning to the things we do have, we seem to turn on ourselves.  Again, I can't remind you enough how infertility is mean enough on it's own.  You don't have to help it beat you up.  You can fight it from tearing you down by taking steps back, looking around and appreciating the things you have in your life that you want to eventually share with a child.  
(Since it's kinda blurry...)
Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul.
Peace and loving myself so I can best love you,

Mary Katherine 
"find though she be but little, she is fierce" ~Shakespeare

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Is not the easiest thing to do when it's not your checkbook you are reconciling.

I was asked how I keep going despite facing the everyday reality that I may never have the one thing I've wanted most.  The simple answer would be to say I'm a proud southern lady, but that would grossly underestimate the support system I have.  My husband, parents and friends have been shoring  me up. And, because I'm not dwelling and moping in my bedroom any longer, my support system keeps growing which only makes it easier to smile.

The other major component, is I don't allow myself to think like that.  It's not about 'it may never happen', it's about 'how we are going to make it happen.'  I don't know how it's going to happen, and I still have no clue when, but I know it will be amazing and completely worthwhile when it does.

It doesn't mean I don't have pangs.  I do, and I do often. Every newsbeat about an abused child, every random cramp and pain in my abdomen, every trip to the pharmacy for medications to control them are reminders that my husband and I have quite the battle ahead.  But I channel them into making me better, to keep working on myself so that when the time comes, I'll be better than I would have been when it didn't happen.

I don't ignore the sadness.  I still let myself cry in the shower, but then I get myself together and do the things that are going to make me a better mother.  Crying in my bed all day isn't one of those things.  I think I've learned the difference between feeling sad, and living sad.  To recognize the feeling, process  it, remove those things from your life that did not allow for it, and not beat yourself up for feeling it is reasonable.  On the other hand, to dwell on it, purposely avoid doing things that make you happy, beat yourself up for things that are not in your control, dwelling on only what has been lost, and living in despair would not be within reason.

Nobody in my life demands that I be happy about being infertile.  The best people in my life only demand that I do my best with what I've been given. They allow me to occasionally mourn, but remind me that I still have a life to live.  They love me and my bum ovaries.   They give me back my confidence that infertility took away.

I can tell you it was quite the process getting here. It's worth it, though. Remind yourself infertility is simply a disease. You did nothing to deserve it. You do deserve friends who will stick by your side. You deserve to still have fun and enjoy being a young adult. Don't take people telling you how so-and-so have it so much worse. Somebody's always going to have it worse, but that doesn't mean your pain should be minimized. There is no rule that only that saddest person in the world is allowed to cry.

Take in the lessons you are learning from this. I took so much for granted. Now, even though I've only been married for four years, I feel like BJ and I have already had a lifetime together and I can't imagine that there is anything we can't do together. I know I would still be blissfully clueless to what an amazing husband I managed to land without having faced infertility experience. You appreciate the little things, because they are worth so much more.

Fortunately for them, very few people will understand what you are going through. The truly good people in your life will still be by your side, including you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Always Something...

So today, a week and some change after every woman's favorite appointment of the year, I have been officially diagnosed with what is being coined "Evil Twin Syndrome".

Before I explain that, let's revisit what over a hundred thousand dollars (including insured coverage, of course) worth of fertility tests and failed fertility treatments have taught my doctors, BJ and myself. I have endometriosis.  My body does a pretty good job of keeping the adhesions at a minimum.  Unfortunately, my organs from the belly button down, including uterus, ovaries, intestines and bladder are inflamed.

What Dr. D theorizes:
In an effort to "fight" the endometriosis, my immune system works in over-drive, to try to keep adhesions at bay. This means it kicks the inflammatory response into high gear, but this is at a detriment to my ovaries and their ability to produce strong, viable eggs.  It is possible that my eggs get scrambled during their 72 day maturation cycle as my body dumps histamines and prostaglandins (same things that cause allergies and swelling after injuries) into my lower abdomen.   

It is quite possible that the damage to my ovaries is irreversible.  I will never know with certainty if better medical care in my teens and early 20's would have made a positive impact on my fertility, but it is a possibility.  I was told numerous times that my cramps were just part of the mystery of being a woman by medical professionals.  I am not sure why it took nearly 13 years for someone to suggest that I might have endo.  Abnormally painful periods are THE symptom.  I, as a young teen, apparently was not able to convey the fact that I was in real pain.  But here are the "typical" symptoms and what my response was back then:

1. Painful mestruation- YES!  I knew and used the term dysmenorrhea (painful periods) when I was 16...HELLO what 16 y/o says that?
2.  Heavy/Irregular Periods- Heavy no, Irregular HIGHLY!  3 weeks 12 weeks...my period don't care.
3.  Pain when voiding- Yes...I still go on crash diets and drink as little as possible every time I'm on my period so I don't have to to go the bathroom.
4. Painful Intercourse- One has to have sex, and I wasn't when I was younger. However, it wasn't until after my surgery that I even knew sex was painful for me, because for a brief period of time afterwards, and for the first time in my life, it wasn't...*SIGH* 
5.  Infertility- Well, back in my day, when I had to walk up hill to school both ways in the snow, MTV didn't offer us reality shows, so most of us did nothing to test our fertility...

But here is a list of symptoms that I did have that no pamphlet I was ever given, or medical "professional" asked me about.
I.        Waking up in the middle of the night biting pillow to keep from screaming.
II.       Diarrhea and dry heaves/vomiting from pain and too many prostaglandins.  
III.      Contemplating as I am leaning over the toilet heaving about how hard I'd have to hit my head on it to knock myself out.
IV.     Heating pads feel better than nothing, but mostly seem to have a placebo affect...which hell, you'll take it.
V.       Regularly blistering myself with heating pads, and it's still not hot enough.
VI.      The thought of lying still and trying to sleep is worse than pouring alcohol over fresh road rash. Seriously I would trade...
VII.     Sobbing into your pillow at the age of 16 about how you don't understand how you're expected to live like this month-to-month for another 20+ years.
VIII.    Being in high school and counting down the days until you can have a hysterectomy. 
IX.      Knowing for fact, that your period hurts way worse than ACL reconstruction...Just in case you're not sure...you tear your other ACL and scientifically conclude that you were correct.
X.       Setting an alarm for the middle of the night (every 4 hours) so you can take ibuprofen
XI.      Taking 6,000-7,200 mg of ibuprofen in 24 hours is really bad for you, but you don't give a shit if it gets you to a tolerable level where you can exist and perhaps even function in the world.
XII.      Pacing back and forth for 2+hours in the middle of the night while clutching heating pad to abdomen.
XIII.     Contemplating "falling on knife" because stabbing yourself in your uterus sounds like it might offer you relief.

Over time, you do get better at managing pain.  I can stay in bed with worse cramps longer than I could when I was 16...part of that is simply knowing that I've survived all my periods thus far, so I figure I'm probably and/or unfortunately (depending on my mental stamina that particular month) not going to die of my period.  I truly was scared of my period when I was younger, because the level of pain I experienced did not make sense to me or seem to compare to any of my peers. I was ashamed of myself.  I truly thought I was the wussiest little girl in the world.  My friends could take Pamprin and move on with their lives. I felt like my uterus was tying itself in a knot and taking everything else in it's sight with it.

It still blows my mind that some people don't like to use birth control that causes them to skip periods because they get uneasy about being pregnant.  While the intellectual part of me kind of gets that, every other part of me is astounded.  I truly hate my period. If I didn't think there was a miniscule, outside chance that I might be able to carry a baby one day, I'd have begged for a hysterectomy years ago.  I look forward to early, artificially-induced menopause as it is.  

However, as it turns out...the miracle of a hysterectomy may not be my savior after all.  I have officially started treatment for a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder syndrome.  The protective mucous layer on the inside of my bladder (similar to the one we have in our stomachs to keep our stomach acid from burning a hole through it) is either shotty or non-existent.  So my bladder hates urine because the pH is too high or too low and causes inflammation.  It hurts my bladder when there is urine in it. Ergo, I have an urge to go to the bathroom as soon as I have a minuscule amount of urine in it.  I pee ALL the time...have since I was a small child.  It's just always been part of the mystery that is MK, but apparently going to the bathroom 15-20+ times a day/night when you are not 9 months pregnant is a little abnormal. Who knew? Also, apparently my mom should have been able to fill out the "First time baby slept through the night," part of my baby book some time before my 30th birthday (it's still blank). Again, who knew?  When Dr. B brought this up a year and a half ago, I was like, 'what's your point?'  I have to go a lot, I get up and go...What's the big deal?

Dr. B theorizes it is a big deal because it could be contributing to the overall hostility that is my womb.  Ok, so now I'm a little more interested... IC could be egging on my endometriosis, which in turn eggs on the IC...and therefore creating the pent-ultimate hostile environment for my ovaries and frying my eggs. Hence why having both is sometimes referred to as Evil Twin Syndrome.  The symptoms of IC are almost identical to endo.  Chronic pain in pelvis, worsening during mestruation, pain with sex, yadda, yadda...

The cure? Of course, like endo, there isn't one.  They don't even really know what causes it.  There are some treatments...Elmiron, pill which helps build up the mucous layer, and anti-histamine because histamines and prostaglandins are the devil-incarnate (this is not medical fact, yet, but it may be my doctoral dissertation topic one day)...And of course, dietary changes.  Obviously alcohol and caffeine are out along with carbonated beverages...  My Keurig that I love will now be collecting dust :(. No citrus fruits, which are positively my favorite food group. :(  Soy (again...AHHHHH! This is soo hard!!! It's in EVERYTHING!) No yogurt, deli meats, pistachios, ketchup, spricy/brown mustard, vinegar, spicy foods or artificial sweeteners and preservatives, foods with lots of potassium...
(Getty Images)
Anyway...new goal in life is to give my pelvic organs a good 18 months of vacation so they can heal.  I truly would like for that to happen, and then not being in pain all the time would be icing on the cake.

Peace, Love and Better living through chemistry,


Monday, August 6, 2012

Due Date

So this weekend would have been my due date.

Would have been, but it's wasn't.  Instead of a crib in the would-be nursery, I have a desk.  Instead of mother goose, I have Grey's Anatomy (the book not the dvd's :) ). Instead of being sad about this, I'm motivated.  I would love to have a child, don't get me wrong, but I am truly thankful to have this opportunity to go to nursing school, now, before I have a child running around.

Let me quote myself from around a year ago in "The Emotional Tests":
"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 other...so again, I'm stuck on this ride until either I give birth, or hit menopause."

Hands down...I think this is the most ridiculous statement I've said on this blog. (Excluding my post-HCG test blogs, which are too painful for me to re-read just yet).  To be fair to myself, I'm sure it was inspired by a fertility memoir written by a 40-something...but still, c'mon July 2011, MK...buck the ***k up!  (See Mama, I am learning...) 

So let me show you this little gem:

Or, translated for those of who can't stand the French:
I'm not forty yet...I'm not even darkening 35's door...I got a little time, and I had a little work to do on myself.  My desperation for a child, was, in part, desperation to have something I was proud of in my life.  I was not happy with my life as it was, and mistakenly thought a child could distract me from that.  I gag at the thought of what kind of mother I would have been.  Controlling, impossible expectations, over-bearing, helicopter, angry mama bear are all things that are coming to my mind.  I'm kinda glad I'm not my own child!  

I think, even though we'll never know until we know, that this experience has softened me a bit.  I might not take every possession away from our child for making an A-, now...I'm KIDDING!  But I seriously am contemplating selling back the Tiger Mom book to McKay's (STILL KIDDING!).  I will just be so dad-gummed appreciative of the fact that I get the chance to be a mother, the little things seem to wash away.  Straight A's, piano lessons, getting into the right dance school, gymnastics, looking like they just stepped out of a Brooks Brothers for Kids catalog...those things don't seem as important as they once did. 

The other thing about a break is that it lets you focus on you as a whole person instead of just your ovaries.  You do deserve to be happy. I deserve to find happiness with or without children.  My husband deserves to be happy without children. We deserve to just be happy, today and from tomorrow on regardless of our reproductive systems. 

So today, I graciously accepted a prescription for Depo-Provera (Actually, I kinda begged, but that's for a different installment of this blog...). Twenty-six months later, I can close the door on this chapter of our fertility journey and enjoy being pain-free for the first time in over two years.  I can enjoy my husband, my friends, and my life without fertility trauma.  I can accept we may possibly be the oldest parents at our child's kindergarten graduation. Just think how much I'll have improved by then!

Peace, Love, and Margaritas,

Mary Katherine aka MK 2.0