Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In need of inspiration

Thursday is my suppression check.  I'm both excited and nervous.  I'm nervous they're going to find a cyst again, nervous that everything is not sufficiently quiet, worried that they'll put us on hold.

Today I'm trying to keep my hopes up, listening to music that will provide me a sense of peace and purpose.  This song from Charlotte Martin summarizes everything a little too well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Am I being selfish?

First off, thank you all for your feedback yesterday.  It helped guide me as in the decision making process. I decided after a lot of thought to simply send a card to the family, expressing our sympathy.  I don't know where the funeral is being held and contact the mother would equal a long conversation trying to pretend that everything is fine, which right now it's not.  So the card will do.

A fellow blogger, Gee, recently wrote a fantastic post that I wanted to expand on.  The second to last paragraph touched on a persistent thought that I've had since our diagnosis.
On sleepless nights I worry about this, that my overwhelming desire to be a parent is not because I think I would be a good one but because I'm looking to fill some inner deficiency. That pursuing extraordinary measures to conceive is the height of selfish, adolescent self-centeredness. That I'm just jealous and obsessed and petty and everything an adult shouldn't be.
Or, the way I think about it: Do I want to be a parent simply because everyone else is?  Is my desire to have a child selfish?

I'll be honest, there are many days, especially as the end of this month nears, that I have my doubts.  We're filled with this image of Mother from the time we are little.  This person gives of herself daily, putting herself second to meet the needs of her children.  Everything she does, every thought, every action is all meant to protect her children, allowing them to prosper.  In short, a Mother is a selfless person.  And as I struggle with infertility, I feel that my actions are more self-serving.  I've doubted that I really want children, that my pursuit of treatment is simply to fulfill a selfish desire.  And that through my actions, I am unworthy of having someone call me "Mom."

But in my calmer moments, I reflect on the fact that most fertile women probably never ask themselves these questions.  Or if they do, usually it's after their toddler has hit the terrible twos.  And when I actually watch most mothers, it becomes obvious that they are not entirely self-less; that their relationships with their children is fulfilling a need to love and be loved.  Sure, they make sacrifices, but their are also many rewards.  Despite what we are lead to believe, motherhood is not an altruistic act; it is both selfless and selfish.  And that's the way it should be.

The cruelty of infertility is that it robs us of the chance to love.  Suddenly, something that is so pure and simple is gone and we begin a journey filled with uncertainty.  Some of us will be lucky to resolve our infertility through pregnancy (either through treatment or not), others will come to a cross-roads where they will need to pursue adoption or decide to live child-free.  But one thing is certain, to make this journey, to make these decisions, requires that we be selfish and self-less.

A purely selfish person wouldn't spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments.

A purely selfish person wouldn't subject themselves to cycle after cycle of drugs that alter your body physically and emotionally.

A purely selfish person wouldn't muster the courage to congratulate a friend/coworker/family member following a pregnancy announcement, and then cry quietly in private later.

A purely selfish person wouldn't spend hours filling out paper work for an adoption agency nor subject themselves to the months of waiting and uncertainty.

A purely selfish person wouldn't even consider parenthood.  It's not on their radar.
(BTW: I've met couples who made the decision early on that they did not want children.  I don't put them into the same category as a selfish person because children were on their radar.  There is a difference)

Everything is do in life has some element of self-interest.  We rely on our environment to produce the food eat, provide the water we drink.  We require shelter to protect us found the elements and clothing to protect our bodies.  And we also require love. Without love, life is hollow.

My main point of this rant is that I think anyone who has walked for a little while on this path has reflected on whether they are pursuing parenthood for selfish reasons.  Ultimately, in my opinion, it's that reflection will make/has made them better parents.  We have to work harder than most to build our families.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

What would you do?

At some point in your life, every girl has a best friend.  They're the ones you talk on the phone with all night, go on adventures with, hang out with at school, etc.  Some of us are lucky enough to grow with this person from childhood into adulthood.  Otherwise find that their best friend changes as they move through the different stages of their life.

The BFF that made a particular impact on my life (outside of Grey) is Jan.  I met Jan when I was 13 yrs and I was instantly attracted to her wild behavior and ability to laugh.  Over the years, the bond formed more deeply: we learned to drive together, attended concerts with garage bands, teased the boys and even spent a couple of Spring Breaks together.  I became a part of her family (sang at her mother's wedding, helped move her father into his new home) and she became a part of mine (holidays, visiting my grandparents, etc).  In short, for a time, we were like sisters.

In 2002, after I had been in Seattle for only 4 months, Jan moved in with me for 7 weeks.  She had been engaged for about a year and was having doubts about the relationship.  Her mother encouraged her to go see me (hell, she bought the plane ticket) and we ended up spending the summer as roommates in a one-bedroom apartment.  Jan was the one who found the one of my favorite coffee shops in the city.  We went to Mt. St. Helen's together.  She even humored me about a guy I was seeing, but was clearly treating me poorly.  She disliked him so much, that during a game of frisbee, she made sure to throw the disc in a manner that had him running all over the park.  Apparently many people were amused.

At the end of the summer, we had a serious discussion about her going back to the midwest to end her engagement.  The plan was, if the discussion with her fiance didn't lead to some serious changes, she would end the relationship, I would break my lease and she would move out to Seattle.  Considering all that happened over the summer, I really thought they were through.  Imagine my surprise when she called me a few days later and announced they were buying a house.

As I think about this now, that decision was kind of the beginning of our currently relationship.  Shortly after returning home and buying the house, we started to lose contact. Though there was the occasional phone call, in general I didn't hear from her. Jan was married 3 months after Grey and I and shortly after, she was electrocuted at work, resulting in a lot of pain.  Through communication with her mother, I was able to learn the particulars and began a one-sided letter writing campaign in hopes of maintaining some sort of contact.  We reconnected in 2007 after her mother was able to help with establishing a phone call and again in 2008 shortly after the birth of her son.  During that visit, outside of briefly holding the baby, Grey and I were ignored.

I remember calling her when we were starting our TTC journey and chatting excitedly about what to expect and wishing each other the best.  And then, as had happened in the past, all phone calls went unanswered.  At the end of 2010, when it was clear something was wrong, I tried again to contact her.  No response.  This time, though, I was hurting too much to pursue contact.  We haven't spoken in almost 2 yrs.

Yesterday, I received an email from Jan's mom telling me that her father had passed.  Her dad has never been in the best of health, nor has he really been willing to take the necessary steps to improve his situation.  But I do know the pain that comes with losing a loved one.  I'm torn though.  A few years ago I would have called right away to see how she's doing and to offer my sympathy. If necessary, I would spend the next month writing letters just to let her know that I'm thinking of her. But, right now, I'm emotionally spent. I can't be the hero in this situation.  And I tired of being the one to reach out.  I'm tempted just to send a card and leave it at that.

So I'm in need of advice:  what would you do?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Human Nature?

The holidays are a time that brings out the crazy in most people.  As people come together to celebrate the year, we are bombarded with messages of materialism, pressured to present our homes in a seasonal manner and told that everything needs to be perfect.  This usually leads to humanity at its worst; headlines of "Black Friday Mayhem" always appear (this year, pepper spray is a big theme), aggression increases in daily life as people prepare to travel or receive guests and there's a major focus on making sure there are enough presents to open.

Can I ask, is anyone else sick of this?

Yesterday, Grey and I had a lazy Thanksgiving. Originally we planned to spend the day skiing with friends, but when we realized that it would involve crossing the US/Canadian border with my injectables, we decided not to chance it.  Instead, we slept in, woke up around 10 am, made love and began preparing dinner around noon. Instead of roasting a turkey, we roasted chicken. We made pumpkin pie, green beans, herbed stuffing and mashed potatoes with the skins on them. Grey called family and spoke with each of them, catching up with where everyone was at.  We ended the evening with some tea and cuddling on the couch while Jax and Dais enjoyed a small helping of chicken and some whipped cream.  In short, a perfect day.

It hasn't always been this way.  When we were first married, we played the whose-family-are-we-visiting-during-which-holiday game.  Which meant either 4-5 hr car trip or flying to the midwest.  With my family, there was always the rush to prepare everything, race over to the aunt or uncle that was hosting and then spend the next few hours making small talk, always under the instruction not to bring up the elephant in the room.  Sometime is worked, but there were holidays were it didn't.  And the aftermath from the events, usually involving one person being unhappy, always took months to recover from and the stories have become legends.

It was hard not to reflect on this yesterday, as it was one of the first holidays that my stress-levels weren't through the roof.  Opening the local paper resulted in some of that stress returning, as story after story reported various incidents around the country regarding early morning shoppers.  And I began to wonder: why do we do this to ourselves?

If you google human nature, you'll find a nice overview on Socrates and his view on the subject.  Socrates is said to have studied the question of how a person should best live and believed that the best life and the life most suited to human nature involved reasoning.  Yet when we talk about human nature in a non-academic context, usually it's associated with primitive behavior, usually in the absence of rational thought. The high we receive from dashing through crowds to save a few dollars, to yell at that individual who cut us off in traffic, to send that enraged emailed because the item we ordered won't be here in time for Christmas: we chalk all of it up to human nature.

This year, in light of my upcoming IVF cycle, I'm rebelling.  As I'm suppose to be as calm as possible this upcoming month, I've decided to share that with everyone around me.  For the next 30 days, I will smile at strangers, perform small acts of kindness, laugh more and find pleasure in the things around me.  I'm determined to make this experience, no matter the outcome, a turning point.  A reverse-Grinch if you will.  And I'm hoping it's contagious. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I'm thankful for . . .

I'm thankful for having a warm, dry home.

I'm thankful for being employed, especially in a position that I love.

I'm thankful for my general health and that I'm healthy enough to be able to live life to the fullest.

I'm thankful for friends who have supported us on this journey.  They've helped me through some dark hours.

I'm thankful for my family.  Though small, there is a lot of love and laughter.

I'm thankful that 8 1/2 years ago, I found my partner in life.  Grey, I can't imagine my life without you.  You're my other-self.

Finally, I'm thankful for this community; for all you've taught me and all the support.  Though I'm only beginning to know all of you, your words have helped me as I prepare for this cycle.

My first award!!

Given to me by Kayla at Life is Simple, It's Just Not Easy

Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers 
with less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

The 5 Blogs below are the ones that I want to pass this award onto:
Alissa at MissConception
Gee at Geebaby

Thank you again, Kayla!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


When I was little, one of my favorite activities was to daydream.  I'd spend hours weaving stories in my head of a heroine (usually with dark hair and green eyes) off on some adventure.  In my mind, she would leave all she had known and find herself in a new land.  She would attempt to integrate herself into her surroundings or she would seek out adventure.  You get the idea.  Daydreaming was my way of escaping from the world I currently existed in.  In that world, there was no loneliness, no heartache, pain was temporary and the sky the limit.

I've fallen out the the practice of daydreaming.  The way I've coped with stress in my 20s was to go on adventures with friends: some of which involved simply hikes, others that have become legends in their own right.  It was fairly easy to distract myself from what ever crisis I encountered and most things were resolved when I was able to think clearly.

Today I am on Day 5 of Lupron, with one more day of BCPs to go.  And I'm driving myself a bit crazy thinking about how December 1 can't get here fast enough.  Because of this, I've spent the past few days thinking more and more about techniques I've used to cope during times of stress.  There are simple things I can do to make the time go by: go for a run, grade, meditate, go for a walk, knit, etc., etc.  The frustrating part is that no matter what I do, the waiting always looms.

Grey and I were talking about this last night on the way home.  He had had a particularly frustrating day at work and, because of the weather, wasn't able to distract himself with a bike ride.  As he grumbled about delays caused by miscommunication, he made the connection about how frustrating it is to wait for something so that you can move forward, whether that be for work or for life.  And how at times, the only thing you can do is distraction yourself during the wait.  It's not laziness, it's survival.

Today, I've made myself a schedule of distractions: the morning will be spent finishing plans for dinner and doing the necessary shopping. Early afternoon will involve a run, followed by a long bath.  Late afternoon will focus on grading and preparing for the coming week.  Sounds good, right?

How about everyone else; what do you do to distract yourself while on this journey?

Monday, November 21, 2011

November ICLW

My first ever ICLW.  Welcome all!  Here's a quick introduction on me and our journey.

1) My name is Cristy. My husband, Grey, and I have been together 8 1/2 years, happily married 7 1/2 years.  Yeah, I know. Very fast engagement.  But when you find the love of your life, it's hard not to want to be together.

2) We are the proud parents of two furbabies, Jaxson and Daisy (both 9 years old). Both add so much light and laughter to our lives.  Both have extensive back stories.  I'll share in the near future.

3) Contrary to everyone else we know (family, co-workers and friends) we can't get pregnant.  We've been trying for 2 years to conceive with not a single BFP to date (despite all the tears, cursing and threats to the universe).  After doing the IUI route, we are now preparing for IVF #1 this December.

4) To deal with the stress caused by infertility and being surrounded others who are able to conceive just fine, I knit.  And I knit a lot.  To the point that I now have knitting injuries (no joke) and more yarn than should be tolerated.  I have a niece and 2 nephews, so they are current recipients of my many projects, but I've also made fertility socks for women undergoing fertility treatments.  To date, I am 3 for 3!

5) After almost a year of being a lurker, I decided to take the plunge into blogging.  I'm not a writer (nor do I pretend to be), but the community I've found through the blogs I've followed has helped give me strength and hope as we make this journey. I look forward to meeting new bloggers as well as coming out of the lurker closet with the old.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mission: Optimism

The past few days I've been riding the emotional roller-coaster.  Some moments I'm incredibly optimistic for the future, seeing good signs and hearing stories of hope at every turn.  Other moments, not so much.  Part of the lows are being fueled by the drugs on currently on, another part is the weather, but the truth is the doubt and pessimism are coming from a part of my subconscious.

On October 31, results from a study were released concluding there is a link between mood and mortality.
Headlines on this research titled "Happy people live longer" began to circulate and many began to speculate why.  Many wanted to know how this data was collected, as there is really no standard to measuring "happiness." But where a lot of attention went was wondering what choses these individuals were making that was extending their lives. Did they take more vacations? Laugh more?  Did they turn down that career-forwarding job and opt for something that was less stressful?

It's no secret that there's a direct connection between mood and fertility.  Alice Domar, one of the leaders in the field of mind/body intervention just published a report showing a significant difference between IVF success rates between the control cohort and the cohort that participated in a mind/body program.  The connection is so striking, that RESOLVE has many links on its website promoting finding support following diagnosis and prominent bloggers, like Keiko Zoll, began talking about the importance of remaining optimistic during treatment.  Women in the trenches of infertility are encouraged to laugh more, focus on the positive and even quit overly stressful jobs, all in the hopes of boosting their fertility.  Some may scoff and announce "BS," but the data is hard to deny.

So, based on this, what's my issue?  I know all of this. I've participated in a mind/body program.  And I love doing yoga!  The problem?  Well, like most pessimists, I'm lazy.  It's been easier to feel sorry for myself and focus on what I don't have.  A big part of it is that I'm tired of defeat: I've charted, peed on more HPTs than I ever dreamed of, meditated, avoided alcohol and even say a psychic (not my proudest moment).

It wasn't until this morning, with help from Jay,  that I realized I've been pouting.  Sure, it's not fair that half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned and that most of expectant mothers have never experienced (and never will) the heartache of longing for a child.  But that's not where my focus should be.  My focus needs to be on the fact that though I'm here, there's hope.  There's a good chance of all of this working, so I need to stop focusing on all the things that could go wrong and instead focus on where I'm currently at.

In the spirit of that, today is being spent rallying support, opening up to friends and busting out the knitting needles.  Grey and I are planning a ski trip and preparing for Thanksgiving.  And instead of focusing on what I don't have, I'm choosing to focus on what I do: an amazing husband, two awesome furbabies, a job I love and hope.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Maybe this could work . . .

As December rapidly approaches, I've found myself fluctuating more and more between optimism and pessimism.  I've sufficiently driven myself crazy analyzing IVF success-rate stats from various clinics as well as spent more time than should be spent with Dr. Google.

A major reason fueling this concern about IVF not working is that over the summer, 3 separate couples I know had failed IVF attempts.  The one that hit home the most was the couple that's around the same age as Grey and myself.  The aftermath of the summer was facing the reality that there was a chance that IVF wasn't going to work.  And it's something that I've had in the back of my mind until this week.

I've been spending November being a cheerleader for a former co-worker/ current friend who has been finishing her IVF cycle.  I've watched in awe as she made the decision to transfer only one embryo and last Thursday she received wonderful news that she's pregnant.  My first thought when she emailed me was "finally, some good news."

Then Saturday, I received an email from a friend who had started IVF this summer, but ended up freezing her embryos because of OHSS.  She was given the all-clear to proceed with embryo transfer at the end of October, but I hadn't heard from her in a while.  She had finally wrote to let everyone know that the transfer had worked and she was finally pregnant.  The amazing part of this whole story is that they were suffering from severe male factor and were told initially that they would never get pregnant, so the news was completely amazing.

Then, yesterday, I received a surprise email from the one summer couple that they had secretly done an embryo transfer and that her second beta came back over 1000.  I was floored!  Shocked that she managed to keep this a secret from her entire support network, but equally happy that finally they had received such amazing news.

So, in less than 10 days, I've received a more than enough validation that IVF can work and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Yet, I'm still so very scared.

2011 has been a year where I've finally started reaching out to others who are on this journey, seeking support and comfort.  During that time, most of them have finally been able to become pregnant or resolve their infertility through adoption.  These women have been the strongest and most supportive group that I've encountered during this whole process.  They get it because they've lived it.  And now I've terrified that come December, I will lost them.  That things won't work out and I'll be left behind to deal with the aftermath.  It's such a selfish thought and one that I'm embarrassed to admit I'm having, yet there it sits.  Ugly and everything. I hate that it exists

I'm spending this morning battling the fear, attacking each moment of anxiety with positive thoughts in an effort to restructure my mood.  Strangely enough, there are moments it's working, but there are also moments when distraction works far better.  The seed of hope has been planted, but I'm working very hard to get that seedling to grow and thrive.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

And we're off!

Prior to infertility, IVF was one of the procedures that everyone knew something about or knew someone who knew someone who had gone through it.  The jist of this conversations consisted of 1) it always worked, 2) said couple always had twins or triplets and 3) it was as routine of a procedure as having your teeth cleaned.  Mind you, I have enough of a background to understand how sperm met egg in a petri dish, but all the details were lost on me.  Mainly because it wasn't something I ever thought I would have to go through.

Fast forward to January 2011. I began meeting other couples dealing with infertility and, of course, fertility treatments were a common topic, but it wasn't until later conversations that IVF protocols even came to mind.  As one couple talked about their first IVF, it became apparent that everything I thought I knew was complete BS (minus the biology of sperm meets egg).  So like any curious bystander, I began asking questions, reading IVF blogs and doing my own research.  In addition, I watched and supported each group of couples as they each went through the procedure.  I celebrated the joy of good news, cried with them during bad news, but also learned about the different aspects of IVF and what to expect along the way.

Grey and I had our first appointment with the RE regarding our IVF cycle this week.  The goal of the appointment was two-fold: the first part was to receive education regarding the injectable medication and the second part was to do a mock transfer. A mock transfer is a procedure to measure the depth and angle of your uterus in order to determine the best way to insert the catheter, taking away the guesswork during the actual transfer process and reducing any errors that could occur along the way.  In general this is usually fairly quick and painless.  What can take the most time is waiting for your bladder to fill if you didn't know you weren't suppose to pee prior to the appointment.  Something worth noting prior to the actual transfer.

What I've been learning throughout all of this is how important it is to ask questions, even though everything seems obvious.  Even though I may think I know what will happen and what to expect.  But most importantly, I'm learning that things are not always as they seem.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

No baby on board

Throughout this journey, there are many things that, once not on the radar, immediately become a reminder one's inability to reproduce.  Baby bumps, Cadalac strollers at the park, open debates about breastfeeding during work hours, etc.  All of these, for the most part, I've been able to handle.  My main conclusion has been that none of these things are meant to actively broadcast one's ability to reproduce to the rest of the world.

There is one exception to this, though.  Baby on board stickers. Within the past 12 months, it seems like the stickers themselves are proliferating like rabbits, attaching themselves to vehicles from all walks of life; from Lexus SUVs, Toyotas & Hondas all the way to Ford F150s, they're everywhere. I'll admit, pre-infertility I really wouldn't have given it a second thought, but now I find myself filled with rage simply at the sight of them, feeling as if they are taunting me.

The past couple of months, these sightings have become more and more of a problem.  Only a few months ago, I was your typical pedestrian/bus commuter. I was happy to enjoy my 20 mins walks to and from the bus stop, then spend the next 20 minutes catching up on reading or enjoying the scenery during the ride to work. Most importantly, I was happy to have someone else do the driving.  With the fall, though, that all change when I started my new position.  Suddenly I've found myself driving over 2 hours a day to and from work, putting me in the midst of drivers from all walks of life.  And that was when I became aware of the plethora of these stickers.  Seems I can't even escape reminders of infertility while on the road.

I've been thinking about this more lately, as we start our IVF cycle.  What is it about these stickers that as me seeing red?  My best guess is that the whole purpose, from my point of view, is to advertise to the world why you're so special.  It a look-at-me-I-have-a-baby attitude that makes me think the parents are less concerned with the safety of their child and more interested in special treatment.  Kinda like the "my child is an honor student" stickers.

But because of infertility, it now goes deeper than that for me.  These stickers are a painful reminder that I don't have a baby on board.  That after 2 years of trying, we are no closer to bringing home a child.  And on that end, it sucks.  I can deal with the bumps, the strollers, the unexpected pregnancy announcements and even the questions.  None of it is meant to be malicious.  But to be reminded of that painful reality while in traffic is a bit too much.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Playing the waiting game

October has been a month of attempting to be patient.  Since our finally IUI, we've be scheduled to do IVF in December.  The initial idea was to take some time to allow all the previous drugs to leave my system while attempting to reclaim something of a normal life.

I have a problem, though: I'm not a patient person.  I was the kid who woke up early on Christmas morning, eager to open presents.  I hate long lines, loathe crowds and am that crazy person who gets upset when someone cuts in line (another story for another time). Usually I deal with my impatience with activities ranging from constructive (knitting, craft-making, etc) to less than constructive.  Still, it's a problem, especially now.

My period is due any day.  More specifically, it's due tomorrow.  Once it comes, I get to graduate from sitting on the fence and start the first round of medication for IVF.  Starting meds means I'm no more waiting; I get to start doing something regarding my inability to conceive.  I finally get to have some control over the situation.  And I can finally move from the realm of wondering if this is ever going to happen to the realm of "well at least I'm trying to do something about it."

In the meantime, I'm stuck playing the awful waiting game.
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved