Friday, December 20, 2013
Guest Post: “It was the worst of times…. Another infertility story”
There is a deep feeling of pain every month, one you hopefully will not become used to. But for many of us, it’s all to familiar a feeling: you got your period this month, again.
We had hit the 18 month mark before I had to stop counting. For the first few months, aunt flow came with all my familiar cramps and pains, and I would smile through the rest of the week with shrug: it was healthy not to get pregnant right away. Then the second half of that next year, I would get a little more down trodden, but I had nowhere to turn. By the end of the first year, I was a mess every month when the “crimson tide” started, because I knew it meant one thing…Not pregnant yet.
I didn’t have a lot of support. My family thought I was too young to start a family: every time it came up, the infamous “I’m too young to be a grandma” would rear its head, and I would just smile and nod, pretending that I wasn’t doing everything I could to get knocked up. My husband didn’t truly understand my anguish, because as a man you just don’t worry about these kinds of things. My girlfriends all had different agendas, finishing school and finding careers. My first doctor shrugged me off as a fat, young girl that needed to hold her horses. At 23, I was hit with this feeling that I would not ever get the family I had dreamed of as a kid.
I watched friend after friend post new baby updates, and with each one, I found the “hide” setting. I wanted to be happy for them, but I couldn’t be happy. My husband’s close friend from work had a new baby boy, and I broke down in our bedroom before going to see them, while he watched not sure what to say. A cousin in the family got pregnant: no job, not married, not readily paying her bills and moved back home with her mom shortly after finding out she was pregnant- and hasn’t left- and it was all on accident. Barely out of high school, she couldn’t take care of herself, much less the dead-beat father she was trying to support and a new baby. But she was given the greatest miracle in the world, to be a mom, and I was a bitter because I wanted it to be me!
It broke my heart. I cried myself to sleep. I laid awake guilt ridden at all hours of the night. I kept a journal about how unfair it all was, and how broken I felt. No matter how much I tried, or how much I wanted to get pregnant, my body just wouldn’t. I watched the months tick by, and knew that all these “delays” were adding up. It would make the difference between my husband’s Grandmother meeting our daughter –he was her favorite grandson- because her health did not allow her to stay with us that long. I blamed myself a lot, and brought myself down. I let myself hit the lowest of lows, truly believed that this was just not going to happen for us. In order to write this post, I went back through those old journals, and it made my heart hurt all over again.
I have mild PCOS: the cysts on my ovaries were not very large, and the extra chemical progesterone was only mildly over what it should have been. We had my thyroid tested, and all came back clear. I could grow facial hair like my husband, and had gained weight over the years that I really didn’t link up with the PCOS until now. I was one of the lucky ones, where in a 12 month span, I would only skip a period 2 or 3 times because I hadn’t ovulated that month. My first doctor did not run additional tests at all, other than the basic ultrasound, and left me with the diagnosis to see her again in a year and lose weight. Notice how I said first… if you don’t like or agree with your doctor now, do you think you will later, when you do get pregnant? Ditch any negative nancies now, and find a new OB/GYN that is willing to help!
After the close to two years of trying of trying, I really stopped counting. I looked up adoption, starting writing up a biography about us, and started looking up what kind of fees I would need to pay, and how I was going to save up for them. I forced my husband to see his doctor –and let me remind every one of you beautiful, hurting ladies: it takes two to tango here! His test results were similar to mine: again, we were sent away with a diagnosis of lose weight, try harder, and then it’ll work. I then turned into some sort of monster: I blamed him for not taking his vitamins, drinking one more soda than he should have, putting his left shoe on before his right… Things that were totally unrelated became a bullet point on my vendetta list. I went from sobbing emotional sad-sack to bitter bitch-zilla in a 10 minute span (influenced mildly by Clomid) and I was not fun to be around, even to myself, I would realize later.
I won’t sit here and tell you what the magic trick is to being okay with not being okay. Take a moment to yourself, don’t just pretend and smile through the day. There are days you are going to need to cry it all out, nights you just need loud music, or a quiet hot bath. It gets much harder before it will ever be easier, but it does make victory so much sweeter. Here’s the thing: you can throw as much as you want into your fertility, but there’s never a guarantee that it’ll be enough. Take each month in stride, make positive changes, and do what you can to help yourself.
I’m no expert, but I do have some experience in the area. If your doctor is unwilling to help you, there are a lot of things you can do to help yourself. Start by knowing as much as you can about fertility: learn how to track your cycles, find those ‘super foods’ the internet talks about, cut out the bad things from your life, like smoking, before you begin to try. My favorite book was “The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant” by Heidi Murkoff. I read it three times through or more. There’s certainly a lot to learn, and a lot to change. Because it takes two, you also want to help your partner make changes too: quitting smoking, reducing alcohol and coffee intake, even switching to different underwear. I highly suggest you both take a prenatal vitamin: part of this suggestion though, I would use an empty bottle of vitamin whatever and fill it with prenatals, if your partner isn’t as on board as you are. Folic acid for him is equally as good as it is for you! Sperm is, however, made in advance, so what you are using today was actually “created” 3 months prior. Changes on your partners side will take effect 2 to 3 months later.
Use the time you have before being pregnant to do things you wanted to learn to do: I am thankful I had a chance to learn to crochet before we had baby-on-board. I got a second dog, and trained him before we got pregnant (another blessing in so many ways!). I could financially prepare for what we were going to need, and the delay was a good thing, that allowed my husband to change jobs to something more reliable, with a higher wage which was nice too. Maybe it’s a trip to Hawaii you’ve always been dreaming of, or learning professional photography. Keep your partners feelings in mind too: maybe there’s something he would like to do before baby too, and squeeze these simple pleasures and new hobbies in beforehand. For secondary infertility, enjoy your first child just a little longer. Make a few fun outings that you don’t normally, like a road trip to the beach, and just enjoy their excitement. Soon, you’ll have to try to find time for two, and you’ll miss these days.
In the end, do what makes sense to you. Your mind knows what it wants. If you just need to rant, or cry, or hit something, find a constructive way to do it! You are doing all you can, and good things really do take time. Surround yourself with people you can talk to, doctors whom you trust and respect their advice, and who are there to help you through your struggle, not just shrug you off with a “lose weight” or “get older” verdict. There is no magic trick to getting pregnant, no wonderful pill you can take and make it easier. Anyone who has never had trouble getting pregnant has no idea what it feels like, and they give bad advice –take it with a grain of salt. Talk about it, even if it’s just to a word document on your computer, or a notebook at home, and let go of all your frustrations and unwind! You are not ever, ever alone in this journey!
So, my last piece of advice. Go into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that “We are going to do this!”. Repeat every day. You really are going to be able to do this, in your body’s own time. And, that feeling every month? It makes it totally worth it in the end!
Amanda P. is a soon-to-be mom from Arizona. She works at an airline call center and also has a website that you can check out here. Sending Amanda lots of well wishes, as she is due to give birth February 2014!