It’s been six months since my last post here, and much like my last post I am still not pregnant. It’s been almost a full twelve months since we’ve starting trying to conceive and are now in that small percentile of unsuccessful people who have not conceived after a nine/twelve month window. Right now I go from feeling angry and frustrated about this to feeling overwhelmingly sad about it. Mostly I just try to do things that don’t require me to think too much about it, because thinking about it inevitably makes me feel like I have to hold back tears and not just break down and cry. Which, subsequently, is why I haven’t said much here. Because writing about it means thinking about it, which means I have to try and sort through the tempest of emotions that I have about this fact, and I’m a little afraid I’m going to get swept overboard by taking that path.
Nonetheless, here I am. Talking (or typing, if you want to be specific).
I can’t really put my finger on why today was the day I decided to come back to this blog and offer a status update on things (which, really, is that there is nothing to update), I just had an overwhelming urge to get some things out of my head in the hopes that it will lighten up my heart a little. I’m not really sure how that is working, but then again I haven’t really said much yet. Mostly it’s just me hoping no one walks into my office as I periodically dab my eyes dry as I continue to muddle along saying, well, nothing.
Since my last visit here, I’ve had a slew of medical testing to try and figure out what is going on with my body and it’s mystery autoimmune/autoinflammatory problems. Including several tests that meant we had to take a month off of trying to become pregnant due to the nature of the test. To give you an idea, this year alone I’ve had: Chest X-rays, Chest CT Scan, Pelvic/Lower Body CT Scan, Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, Capsule Endoscopy and a White Blood Cell Scan. All strategically scheduled (as much as possible) around trying to conceive and limiting the time we had to pass on a cycle for testing. I have blood work down every other month to track my “off the charts” inflammatory markers and high white blood cells. I have doctor’s appointments with numerous doctors on a regular basis to be told what a “mystery” I am and that they still are uncertain what is plaguing me. And the real kicker is that I can’t take any medication for the inflammation because the medication that they use to treat the symptoms conflict with implantation and/or early fetal development. Although, everyone is in agreement that getting pregnant would likely put the symptoms at bay for (at least) the term of the pregnancy.
Oh…and I broke a tooth two weeks ago that resulted in needing two crowns. Just because I haven’t had enough to deal with.
Anyhow, dealing with all of that in addition to the whole (what is becoming) infertility thing is really wearing on me pretty hard this past month. To the point where I’ve been considering visiting a shrink (is that even a PC way to discuss this?) to help me get my feeling, thoughts and emotions sorted out. Because holy shit my head is just in its own space right now, and generally it’s not a good space. And distractions only hold everything at bay for so long. And man does my pocketbook wish that retail therapy was somewhat less effective for cheering me up.
Last month, earlier this month? (everything is kind of melding together), we went to speak with the fertility specialist at by OB/GYN’s office. They will be doing some testing and starting some early fertility treatments, and then forwarding me on to a fertility clinic if, after a short time, things have still not been successful. I was actually feeling pretty good about this when we went, because I am finally taking action and not feeling like everything is 100% out of my control.
While I was there I was at the right time in my cycle (since my period was a week early last month…which is a completely anomaly from every month prior) to do some of the testing, including an ultrasound and some blood work. The ultrasound showed that I had an egg ready to release, and the blood work showed that my estrogen was at appropriately elevated levels for ovulation. We were instructed to keep an eye on the Ovulation Predication Kit, but that we should fornicate starting when we got home. I was sent home with a small pile of lab work and times in my cycle to contact her back for scheduling more testing and the assurance that she would see me soon, and that everything so far looked good.
Except everything isn’t good. The weekend after I saw her, I went on a weekend holiday to Leavenworth with a friend for Oktoberfest. During that trip I started spotting. It was completely bizarre. I never spot. I never have early periods. I am like a clock that is always reliable – but maybe a few minutes late now and then. The spotting freaked me out a bit, because I still hadn’t had a positive on my OPK yet (and, in fact, still haven’t had one to date). So Monday morning, I call the doctor’s office to figure out what is going on. By all indicators, I should have had my LH surge, and I should have ovulated, and I shouldn’t be spotting. She sends me for blood work.
I get a call the next day that my progesterone levels show that I haven’t ovulated yet and that what she may have seen in the ultrasound may have been a cyst and it may have ruptured. This would explain my early cycle last month and the spotting this month – but not the estrogen readings earlier in the month. She indicated it was unlikely for me to become pregnant this month, but to go ahead and keep trying, and that we need to wait for next month once things have normalized again to begin most of the testing, or the data won’t be accurate or helpful.
So it’s like I finally feel some hope that things are going to start looking up, and that we have a plan and I can feel like I am doing something only to find out that I’m indefinitely on hold until my body gets its shit back together. Which is frustrating. And emotionally draining.
That being said, I did learn a lot of useful information meeting with the fertility specialist. Such as unique problems that women with high inflammation have with conception. Some of which are problematic to implantation. Basically my body is so keyed up, and my white blood cells so active, that they attack anything they deem to be foreign. This includes Robert’s sperm, as well as a fertilized egg. While that’s not definitively what is happening, it’s quite possible and is something that we will uncover doing the tests. That I can’t start yet. Because my body hates me.
Anyhow, one of the tests that we are doing is a Semen Analysis for Robert. We are supposed to schedule this test after I have ovulated, because I guess it wouldn’t do any good to waste those swimmers if they were needed. But since I haven’t ovulated yet, according to Clear Blue Easy (and apparently progesterone), we have been sitting on it. But I’m tired of sitting around WAITING. So we copulated the other night, and I told Robert to call and schedule the test this week before we go out of town next week. At least this way we can get some answers in the interim. Honestly, his swimmer being slow, or missing tails, or being of low count, or I DON’T KNOW whatever else can be problematic, is probably one of the best solutions for us. Because it’s a relatively easy fertility “fix”. Think “medical turkey baster” – and now your Thanksgiving will never be the same. You are welcome.
As part of the whole “you are now in the 5%” category thing, one of the joys that I get to partake in is fertility drugs. I was a little confused/concerned about this because 1) I am ovulating monthly (except for, apparently, THIS month); and 2) HORMONES. But after asking some questions, I have learned that because of my age this is pretty standard, even given the ovulation, because it releases more eggs to potentially be fertilized and increases your chance of conceiving by 20%. Of course it also increases your chance of multiples – but we don’t talk about that, just acknowledge that it’s a possibility. Plus Robert already has enough grey hair.
There are two main fertility drugs in use right now: Clomid and Letrozole. Clomid has always been used for fertility, but is exceptionally harsh on your body and has an army of side effects that accompany it. Letrozole, on the other hand, is actually a breast cancer drug that about 12 years ago was discovered to have a side effect that stimulates ovulation with significantly fewer side effects than Clomid. The fertility specialist indicated that they are actually moving away from Clomid treatments in favor of Letrozole for a number of reasons, with one being that it is easier on the body. Since my meeting, I’ve done a bit of reading on the two drugs because I’m not really in favor of dealing with the known side effects of Clomid. It actually seems that many professionals feel that Letrozole is the superior drug for fertility treatment, and another added bonus is that it seems that it also reduces the risks of multiples.
Of course, I can’t actually start treatment with these until we’ve done the other tests – which includes looking at my PARTS with dye and some form of radiology (I’m going to start glowing soon, I think), but flushes my lady parts out increasing fertility for the following two or three months. And of course, that test has to be done on a certain day in my cycle. Which means I actually need to HAVE a cycle, which my body is not agreeing with this month. Which is frustrating given that my cycle has been within a day or two of when I estimate it for tracking since I started this whole process. Which brings me full circle, really. If I still haven’t a) had an LH surge and ovulated; or b) started by period by the time I return from vacation at the end of next weekend I will be calling the doctor again. Because something is simply not right. And, damnit(!), I want to get this ball rolling finally. Preferably before the battery in my clock wears out.
Hating Pregnant Women
One of the other massive side effects of my year long struggle is that I pretty much hate pregnant women. It’s not their fault, it really is all me, but I would like to shove them all into, I don’t know, Montana, where I don’t have to look at them, talk to them, or acknowledge the fact that they have something that I very much want and regardless of how hard I try, for whatever reason, can’t have right now.
Robert tells me that this is irrational and unfair, and I know that he is right. But I don’t care. I hate baby bumps. I hate going to the store and seeing them. I hate hearing people talk about it on Twitter (mercifully, I do not Facebook). I hate sitting in the waiting room full of pregnant ladies. I hate shopping for holiday cards and seeing baby announcements. I hate walking past the baby aisle at Target, if I forget to circumvent it. Basically, if they made something akin to “beer goggles” that allowed me to completely ignore the fact that pregnant women exist, I would pay an exorbitant amount of money to acquire them.
It’s not that I’m not happy for these people. I am. It’s just that the constant reminders that I have, to date, been unsuccessful in this area of my life is very painful. And the longer I go without becoming pregnant, the more sad it makes me. Each failed month makes it a little harder to stay positive about the situation. I don’t expect anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility themselves to understand this, because you are simply incapable of doing so no matter how hard you try.
The other thing that is really quickly toping my “I’m tired of this already” list is sex. Please don’t be one of those people who tell me that if I’m not enjoying it, I’m doing it wrong. Or that I shouldn’t be “making love” if it’s not full of passion or some other crap like that. Because the truth of the matter is that when you are dealing with infertility sex is a chore. You don’t have to agree with me on this, but it’s okay because I am more than willing to concede that you are wrong.
There is no romance involved in the art of baby making when you’ve been practicing it for an extended period of time. At this point, it’s science. You have to schedule it into your day. You have to do it during certain windows of time. And you have to do it even when you don’t feel like doing it. To further hammer this point home for those of you who haven’t had the joys of experiencing infertility, you also have to have regular blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds on certain days of your cycle…every month. There is no magic. There is no spur of the moment, wind blowing in your hair, glitter raining down from the heavens. There is only a man in a white lab coat drawing blood from you, shoving things into uncomfortable places and telling you it’s time or it’s not time. You become a slave to your calendar simply so that you can keep some shimmer of hope alive that just maybe this will be the month.
We will talk about the overwhelming depression that sets in when you find out that no, it’s actually not the month, in another post. Because something that special deserves an entry all its own.
As you can probably tell, I’m not in a great headspace about this right now. My outlook on it varies from day to day, but this past month has been exceptionally hard for me. It was my hope that writing all of this out would be somewhat cathartic, and it was. I don’t know that it has changed my overall outlook or frustration with the situation, but it has, momentarily, made me feel a little better. So I will take those small victories where I can. I’m sure that things will start moving along soon, one way or the other. I’m not entirely certain what to expect, and I am hesitant to grow hopeful. But at least, for a period, I will feel like I am doing something to help my situation. And feeling even a tiny bit in control of this is something I desperately need right now.
And…that is what is new with me.