Hope Schmope

I’m having trouble figuring out how I should feel about this cycle. Am I allowed to be hopeful? Do I have reason to? And I know we always have some hope, because otherwise why would we keep doing this? But I’m talking about real hope. In my last two or three cycles, that kind of hope has been nearly dead. Like, so close to death, it’s on life support. There just hasn’t been much to make me feel like any of my recent cycles were going to be any different than the cycles before them, you know?

But this time, we’re switching things up. The changes for this cycle are:

  • Increasing Clomid from 100 to 150mg
  • Adding a trigger shot
  • Using progesterone suppositories after ovulation

I’ve also decided that I need to feel like I’m doing something more than just going to doctor appointments, so I’ll be doing a few extra things to pretend that I actually have a little bit of control over all this:

  • I’ll be using Softcups after intercourse to keep my husband’s precious liquid close to where it needs to be. (These are generally a period solution, but I’ve heard they can help in TTC too. And for $10 with shipping, I decided, why not?)
  • After sex, I usually stay in bed for 10 minutes before getting up and moving around. I will be changing this to 30 minutes now. We even bought a nice wedge pillow to keep my booty elevated for that half-hour.
  • I plan to dine on some pineapple core after ovulation…if I can stomach it.

All in all, that is a total of six things that I will be doing differently this cycle. I mean, that must increase our chances, right? Even if it’s only just a little?

But how do I keep from being all, “Oh, man, this cycle is going to be the ONE!”??? Because I don’t want to have that much hope. It will only lead to heartbreak if I’m wrong. And logically, I know it very well might not be The Cycle. If Honey’s sperm morphology is really as bad as they say, making all of these changes may not do a damn thing. But it’s hard to convince my heart of that. It’s hard not to get my hopes up. I’m finding this balance between hope, expectations, and logic a tricky, tricky business.

Countdown to the End of a Dream

My daughter’s (very small, but very lovely) birthday party was this afternoon  and, on Wednesday, she will turn two. As the first birthday presents arrived, I realized there is no denying it anymore: Cupcake is growing up. She’s not a baby anymore. It’s been two years since what was, until recently, the hardest period in my life came to an end. Two years since the baby I longed for and dreamed of filled my empty arms.

This momentous occasion should be one of joy, of celebration. And it is. Nothing, no amount of sadness, can stop me from appreciating and rejoicing in the life of the child I was not certain would ever exist. Of the child I wanted more than anything else in this world and the next. But with this day also comes a rock of dread sitting in my stomach. I imagine part of this is normal stuff that mothers feel as they watch their tiny, helpless babies morph into real people with their own opinions and desires. But for me, it is more than that. It is tangible proof that time is passing. The clock is ticking. And nothing in my life is changing, evolving, or improving.

There was a time when I expected to have a ginormous belly for my daughter’s second birthday party. I do not. I do not have a baby bump of any size, in fact. And then I prayed that I might become the mother of a second living child by my 30th birthday. As the calendar pages flip one-by-one for this month, though, that dream is fading. My next hope, my forever hope, is to have another baby in my arms by the time my daughter celebrates her third birthday. I have always wanted my children to be two to three years apart. To make that happen, I must conceive in the next three months. Cupcake’s second birthday is the start of the countdown. And while I know that the world will not end if this doesn’t happen, and that I will welcome any baby whenever s/he comes, it is hard to see your dreams diminish. It is hard to accept that the way you envisioned your future may be nothing more than fantasy.

Please do not mistake this whiny, listless post as a lack of gratitude. I know I am lucky. I am reminded every day as I read all of your blogs that I have been given a great gift. So many of you would give anything for one child. I am forever thankful to be in this position of worrying over having another baby. If it comes to it, my daughter, sweet beautiful precious perfect Cupcake, will have to be enough. She is enough. I love her more than air, water, and chocolate and I couldn’t ask for anything better. But having just one child is not the dream. Having a big family, a house full of noise and laughter, screaming and too many toys, is what I want. Having now what I never had as a child is what I want. I want that more than almost anything. (And yes, I did say almost, because good God, I do not want it at the sacrifice of the life of the child I already have or that of anyone else I deeply love…but that it is it. That is the only thing more important to me than this.)

And as days like today pass me by, it feels as if that dream I have been holding onto is slowly slipping away.

The Two-Week Wait

Things look promising.

As most of you know from my post on Monday, I got a positive ovulation test on CD14. The four days since then, my BBT has been over 98.0 (before that it was mostly 97.2-97.6). Also, the OPKs have gone back to being completely negative, my cervix has dropped, and now I have creamy-ish CM. So far, so good, I would say.

Which I think makes it official. I’m smack-dab in the middle of the 2WW. My first since starting this blog. And please God, let it be my last.

Is that being too optimistic? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know:

  • My Honey and I had sexy time the two days before ovulation and the day of. I hope that’s enough.
  • Every time that I have ovulated while TTC (those two measly times in the last two-and-a-half years), I have conceived, even though it was on CD19 in 2010 and CD 22 earlier this year.

That’s not much to go on, but it’s enough to give me hope. And so that’s what I do…all day long, I hope, I pray, and I analyze every possible little symptom or clue my body alludes to. It’s too early, of course — anything I feel now is probably an unpredictable fluke — but I can’t help myself.

So in this moment, I’m feeling more positive and hopeful than I have in so long, since my miscarriage I think. It’s a (slightly terrifying) relief to finally be trying again. And to be at a point where we’ve actually got a shot at a miracle. (Even though ovulating on CD14 feels like a small miracle of its own.)

So for today, I will try not to worry, try to have faith, and try to just enjoy the possibilities. I’m feeling like I can handle anything right now. Even my sister. We have a phone date scheduled for this afternoon to talk our hearts out.

I’m so freaking scared!

Another CD14

It’s CD14 and my body is doing weird things.

For five days now, I have had egg-white mucus and my cervix has been high. In fact, I went straight from bleeding during my period to this EWCM…no sticky or creamy mucus at all so far. And last night, my cervix was so high that I couldn’t even reach it — and my mucus was the clearest and stretchiest of all.

On Saturday, I also started feeling things in my lower abdomen. Pressure, which has continued ever since. Today, tenderness too. This is not new to me. I have felt it three times before during a Clomid cycle. Swollen ovaries. It scared me significantly the first time, but now I’m less concerned. Especially knowing that, two out of three of those times, I ovulated.

Through Saturday, my OPK tests were very negative. As in, there was no second line at all. Yesterday, that second line did appear and was quite clear, but the test was not positive. And then today, there was this:

Um…that IS positive, right???

I think that’s positive!  But I’ve seen so very few of them, I can’t even be sure of that.

And honestly, it does seem a little too good to be true. After all, as far as I know, I have never ovulated this early in my cycle. Never. Certainly not since I started tracking it back in 2010 when we were trying to conceive Cupcake. I have also never even had ovulation signs (the EWCM, ovarian pressure, or dark test line on an OPK) so early. Now, I have had a few (maybe 3, 4, or 5 in the last two years) false-positives on an OPK, so I’m afraid to trust this…and yet, I have never seen a false-positive before CD20 and then, they have still only been questionably positive — like, is the test line as dark as the control line?  Or not?

And I suppose it’s possible that this positive test means nothing at all. That my hormones are wacky and tomorrow the test will be clearly negative and my temp won’t rise and I won’t see that second line again…or I will, in a week or so, when I’m feeling desperate but also dread it so late in my cycle.

I don’t know.

I guess the only way to be sure I have ovulated is to watch my temperature. Even that, though, is not completely reliable as my BBTs have not been very stable this cycle — generally 97.2 to 97.6 but it’s different every day (97.2 one day and then 97.6 the next and then 97.2 again) and there have been a couple lower than that range and several higher. Not sure why. Is it the hotter weather here? Not being very strict about exactly what time I temp? Or just that my body is royally screwed up?

Either way, right now I am feeling confused, curious, and a little bit hopeful. This is a feeling I’m not so accustomed to, so I’m going to hold onto it as long as I can.

Today will be a good day.

If I was an eternal optimist…

I would believe that maybe I did ovulate those few days ago when the second OPK line was nearly as dark as the first. Even though it was cycle day 30-something. Even though I was on progesterone. Even though I knew all hope was lost.

I would wonder if my constant exhaustion this week was a sign. A sign of you-know-what.

I would ponder that ugly red pimple in between my breasts and smile because I know the last time I had a pimple there was, oh, about three months before my daughter was born.

I would be convinced that I’m peeing more lately not because I’m drinking so much water but because something in my body, in my uterus, is making it happen.

And I would think that the cervical mucus that makes a puddle (yes, a puddle!) in my underwear is a good thing because, you know, the last time I had this much CM was during my pregnancy with Teddy Graham.

Yes, if I was an eternal optimist, I would still have hope.

But I’m not and I don’t. I think I used to be one of those types, but I lost my optimism early. Instead, I know it must be the progesterone.  Right?  I finished it a few days ago and I’ve never had any noticeable symptoms from taking it, but what other explanation is there? I just wish my body would stop teasing me.

Because here is the truth: I’m not an optimist, but I am a liar. I will always have hope. As long as there is God and magic and miracles, I will hope.

Thanks & Stuff

First, I want to say a couple big thank yous…

To those of you who responded to my post on faith…thanks for the stories you shared, the support you offered, and the prayers you have said. I do so need and appreciate them.

And to those of you who responded to my post about my many overwhelming worries…thanks as well!!! You guys offered some great advice and gave me a lot to think about.

And with that being said, I present to you my plan going forward (though, being a woman, I have the prerogative to change my mind at any time):

My next cycle (#2) will proceed as planned. I finished the progesterone yesterday and am now waiting for the flow to begin. I will then take “just” 100mg of Clomid and annoy God with my constant prayer (i.e. begging and bargaining), while also crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Part of why I’m choosing this route (no monitoring, RE, trigger, etc.) is for the simplicity of it (less stress, I imagine, though certainly not stressless) and also for practical reasons as it will be a busy month and I’ll be out of town for a few days next week. Not to mention, I have always taken this route and it has always worked. So far.

If this cycle ends with a glorious BFP, I will then request for a beta draw every other day until I see a heartbeat, at which point I will ask for a quick u/s every other week until the end of my first trimester (when I may just buy a doppler, so I can find a new way to obsess). I guess then I will not only be annoying God (please God don’t let this baby die too, please let there be a HB, please protect my embryo, please have mercy, please please please pleeeease), but I will also be irritating my OB with my paranoia. I’ve warned him already…but I don’t know if he really understands what he’s in for. And that is, of course, only if I build up the courage to demand what I want and need. I’m a bit like a timid twelve-year-old girl in that way — not very good at standing up for myself or being assertive. Work in progress, remember?

If this upcoming cycle ends with the stupidest-of-stupids BFN, I plan to have all my blood work redone so PCOS can be ruled out once and for all, maybe also have a baseline u/s done on my ovaries (to verify there are no cysts), and perhaps request to be monitored for my third cycle.  I may also try to charm my doctor into letting me try dexamethasone or Metformin…and/or increase my Clomid dosage.

And if I don’t ovulate at all? Well, the plan will probably compare to the BFN plan, except I will most definitely be begging the doc to increase my Clomid or try Femara and give me a trigger shot…anything that will just get my body to release a damn egg.

As for going to see an RE, I’m still hesitant, mostly because of money matters. Our health insurance does not cover infertility. Like, at all. And so I’m scared that once I go see a fertility specialist, all coverage will stop. So far, we’ve been lucky enough to have every ultrasound and all lab work covered 100%. Not to mention, seeing my OB only costs us a $30 copay. I like having money. I like having no doctor bills. I like being able to, instead, save for baby items and a stay at the Labor & Delivery unit sometime in the future. I don’t want to spare every penny possible in order to expand our family. I will, if necessary…but I’m not ready yet, and I’m still hopeful it won’t come to that. After all, I’ve been pregnant twice and have not needed an RE thus far. After two cycles of Clomid at 100mg and two at 150mg, though, I think it will be time. Sigh. I know all of you RE-veterans will laugh to hear this, but the thought of it sort of makes me want to barf.

Also, one other note…as arminta suggested, I took a pregnancy test. A good suggestion, but futile in my case. It was a BFN. In fact, that single control line was so dark and bold and in-your-face with “You’re NOT pregnant,” I found it sort of rude and obnoxious. So no worries, guys…I’m not pregnant. Go figure. I mean, really? A surprise, unexpected pregnancy? That only happens to OTHER people.

Which means I was getting a close-to-positive OPK for one of two reasons: 1) My LH was just wonky for a few days for whatever lame reason. Or 2) I actually ovulated. I’m pretty sure #1 is the winner, but either way, the tests have gone back to being completely, undoubtedly negative and that has helped me to breathe a sigh of relief. And so now I just wait for my period. And in honor of the Olympics, all I have to say about that is this:

Let the Games begin!

(Okay, I know that was cheesy and hardly even accurate, as all of this is more akin to torture than a game, but it was the only closing to this post that came to mind. Please forgive my lameness.)

Crisis of Faith

I had another post all written out and waiting to be published, a diatribe of my most recent worries and anxieties, but I think I’m going to save it. I’ll post it in a day or two. Instead, I want to talk about faith. I’ve tried to avoid discussing this sensitive topic for fear of offending someone as I know we all have our own set of beliefs, whatever they may be. However, my faith is a part of me, as is my current struggle with it, and it seems inauthentic if I fail to talk about it in this venue.

Today’s church sermon was about learning to trust God when the seas are stormy and when life is not going how you planned. Appropriate, you think? Our pastor, the man who baptized my daughter last year and has two young children of his own, was diagnosed with a serious brain tumor just this last December. After several surgeries as well as speech and cognitive therapy, he is doing well now, though it was touch and go for a while and he still has some months of recovery ahead of him. However, through it all, he has managed to glorify God’s name. His wife, who spoke in the sermon today, confessed that she struggled with accepting God’s plan, with even believing that He had a plan at all, but in the end was able to make peace with it and to see that God is good in all things.

Me? I’m having a bit more trouble with that.

It’s no secret to my IRL friends and family that I’ve struggled with my faith ever since my miscarriage. I have been very honest about it. I’m mad at God. When trying to conceive our first child, I bargained with Him and promised if he gave me a child, I would go to church more. I have since reneged on that promise. This month, I have gone every other week. Last month, I didn’t go at all. It’s not that I have made a conscious decision to do it…but if I find an excuse to do something else, I will. I have also found excuses to not read my Bible, to not pray, to not donate to the church offering plate. I’m still trying, but I’m finding it harder than ever to be faithful.

Apparently, my faith wasn’t very strong to begin with. Right? I mean, it’s easy to have faith when things are going your way. I went to church every single week when I knew I was pregnant with our Teddy Graham. But it’s much harder to have faith when your heart is crushed and you just can’t make sense of why.

And it’s not that I’ve stopped believing in God. I haven’t. I don’t think I ever will. I remember reading in a recent post on Baby-Making Merry-go-Round that Mrs. Green Grass believes our core values are formed fairly early in our lives and I think she’s right about that. Though we are talking about very different situations, I was raised to believe in God from infancy and even if my whole world was destroyed and I was the only one left standing in it, I don’t think I would stop believing. That’s not the type of crisis of faith I’m having. Instead, I’m just struggling to trust. To understand. To accept. And to once again believe in the power of prayer.

Because I did a LOT of praying when I was pregnant with Teddy Graham and we know how far that got me!

When I was TTC the first time, I often cried out to God and sometimes I was angry too, but it was never like this. Then, it was easy to say to myself: Oh, well, maybe now just isn’t the right time. Maybe God knows something I don’t. Maybe we’re not quite ready. And when I finally did get pregnant and everything fell into place perfectly, it was easy to see His Plan. But it’s much harder to understand why God would give us the child I have been praying for, only to take him away a few weeks later. What’s the point? Really!

And the truth is, I still have no answers. This is not some post where I am here to convert you. Or convince you of the goodness of God. Or encourage you to summon faith when it’s hardest. I’m still trying to figure all of that out myself. In my heart of hearts, I do believe God is good, and there is a reason for all of this (every single bit of it. Every. Single. Bit.), and things will work out perfectly in the end. I believe that! But it’s still hard to reconcile the good God I believe in with the One who has taken away my itty bitty babe.

So what I got out of the sermon today was this: He gives and He takes away. We don’t have to like it. We can pray for something else. But in the end, we just need to trust. Even when there are no answers. Even when we can’t understand it. It is all too big for our little human brains to understand, anyways. We just, quite simply, need to have faith.

My husband asked me yesterday if losing our li’l Teddy has given me a more three-dimensional view of my faith. The answer is yes. Surely. I am learning that faith is a lot more than praying for what you want and thanking God when He gives it to you. It is also finding a way to be thankful and to praise God’s name in the times when you are alone in the wilderness of life, just trying to survive. But what I should have told my husband is: “Yes, but it’s a work in progress.” I still can’t make sense of so very much. Why me? Why all of us? Why now? Why like this? My faith in God is not perfect, not unwavering. It can — and has — been shaken. But I have been told countless times that that’s okay. It’s okay to be angry with God. He expects it and He can handle it. This, again, is just all part of the journey I suppose. Part of the TTC/IF journey and part of my faith journey as well.

With time, perhaps, I will find my answers. Or I will grow to accept that there aren’t any, or I am not meant to understand them.

As with so many areas of my life, I am forevermore a Work in Progress.


P.S. So, so sorry about this very long post. Especially to all the ICLWers…I know you have a lot of reading you want to do and I’m sorry for monopolizing your time!  I’m failing miserably at suppressing my long-windedness. And I confess, there’s another long one just around the corner. Stay tuned to hear about all the heavy worries weighing on me over the weekend!