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Six Years Ago Today

Six years ago today was a very dark day. We had been struggling to conceive our first child for well over a year. I had just learned that a close, childhood friend had given birth to her son just days before. I was about to take a pregnancy test that I knew would be negative. And it was time to finally accept that the Clomid wasn’t working and we needed to try something else.

I didn’t know then what was in store. I couldn’t have know then, on that dark, lonely day, that I would give birth three times in the next six years. I was sad and scared, desperate and distraught. And yet, everything was about to change. Because six years ago tomorrow, I would get a positive pregnancy test. My very first. For the first time in forever, I would see two lines on that pee stick instead of one. What a glorious moment.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of a day of celebration. A celebration of so much hope, anticipation, and joy. But today? Today, I remember what it was like before. Before this all began. The heavy heart. The quiet house.

Six years ago today, I was in so much pain. I will never forget that.

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Big. Fat. FAIL.

On Sunday, I took the 1-hour GTT to screen for gestational diabetes. Last night, the results arrived in my e-mail inbox.

FAIL.

Well, that’s not what the e-mail actually said, but that’s essentially what it meant. My blood sugar should have been under 140 one hour post-sugar drink. It was 151. That’s not a horrific number, but it’s high enough to mean I’ll have to return for the 3-hour test this weekend.

Of course. This pregnancy has been textbook so far. Everything has been going so smoothly. Life has been perfect. Of course something has to go wrong.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I cried my eyes out last night over this, and again twice this morning. I mean, I sobbed. Until my face was swollen like a puffer fish. Until my head ached. Until my eyes were the bloodshot peepers of a drug addict. Until, perhaps, my brain and heart bled. I think I may have even said, “I’m going to kill my baaaabeee!” More than once. Yes, I’m being melodramatic. I know this isn’t the end of the world, as my mom kept reminding me while I cried into the phone. I know that, if I do indeed have GD, it’s manageable. I know Skittle can, and probably will, be okay.

But.

I’m just so disappointed. Disappointed that my perfect pregnancy has to throw me a curve ball. Disappointed that I have something new to worry and obsess over. Mostly, disappointed in my body and myself. My stupid body, that does so little right. And my stupid self, because I have had a much stronger sweet tooth in this pregnancy and because I have let myself indulge at times. I now regret every damn bite. And I feel such guilt. This is all my fault.

I wish I had prepared myself for this possibility, but I never saw it coming. With my first pregnancy, I passed the 1-hour test with flying colors. (One hour after downing the sugary drink, my blood sugar was a fantastic 96.) I’ve also taken the three-hour test before, in screening for PCOS, and I failed the two-hour blood draw, but never the one-hour. Now, I’m scared I’ll fail the one-hour and two-hour, which would then give me the GD diagnosis. And what could this mean? Why is there such a huge difference in my body’s response this time??? Is it the Metformin I’m taking? Is the test wrong? Is it the sugary treats I’ve had? Or is it that, just as in everything else, this pregnancy is turning out to be truly, truly different from my first?

I don’t know, but I’m sad. I’m scared. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I feel like all enthusiasm about this pregnancy has drained out of me and now I just feel dread at the weeks that lie ahead. I know I’m overreacting. Please don’t mistake this as my wishing I wasn’t pregnant at all. I am so, so happy and thankful to be here. I am totally in love with our Skittle. But I’m feeling horribly worried and fearful once again. And I’m realizing just how much is still out of my control. And how far we yet have to go.

And in other news, apparently I was also tested for anemia. And yes, my iron levels are a little low. Which would maybe explain why I needed three naps yesterday. Luckily, this one is easy to fix (in theory). But still…  Throughout this whole pregnancy, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. And now, I guess it has. I hope it has. I hope this is it. I hope the bad news stops here.

The Failure of a Friendship

In the last few months, there has been some talk of floundering friendships in the ALI blogosphere. I am specifically thinking of posts by Daryl and Trisha, but I think there may have been others too. And recently, I have come to realized that it’s time to acknowledge I’m part of this club too. I anticipate that this will be a long, tedious post, so you have been warned. I just really am feeling the need to get this off my chest and out of my head.

My friend Kat and I met the first day of our sophomore year of high school. We clicked immediately and bonded over geometry homework and boy drama. She was a cheerleader and I was not, she was popular and I was not, but that never stopped her from becoming my friend. I was lucky in that, though I was chubby and shy, I was well-liked by most everyone and never bullied, teased, or mistreated by my classmates for a single day. And Kat accepted me completely.

We were never best friends in the same way that my declared “best friend” and I were. We didn’t have sleepovers. She didn’t call my parents “mom” and “dad.” She didn’t accompany my family on weekend road trips. She didn’t spend more time at my house than hers. But we were on the phone almost every night, doing homework together or gossiping. We passed notes in class. And during the summers, we e-mailed regularly and met for coffee or lunch every few weeks. She was not a classic best friend, but more of a closeted one. She was the one who knew me best and understood me completely (as we were very much alike). She was the one I trusted and told my secrets to.

After graduation, things didn’t change all that much. She went to California for college and I went cross-country to Florida, but we still remained connected. I visited her during my spring break and, during the summers, we would meet at Starbucks as often as we could for 3- or 4-hour marathon chats. That was our “thing” and it seemed to work for both of us.

Until it didn’t anymore.

As time passed, and she spent less and less time in our hometown in Idaho, it became harder for her to give me any of her time when she did come to town. As I did everything I could to accommodate her schedule so we could once again meet for coffee, I grew weary. And angry. And it’s then I realized this had been the definition of our whole friendship. I had spent years accommodating her. We always planned things around her plans, not mine. I always went to her house to study or chat; she never came to mine. After nearly fifteen years of friendship, she still could not tell you where my parents live because she has never been there. I was always the one to e-mail or call her to see if she could meet for a coffee date; she never contacted me. To this day, I am still the one who will first send an e-mail to just “check in” and see how things are going. Maybe it’s because Kat has never needed me as much as I have needed her, but I don’t know if she has ever made the first move to nourish our friendship, and certainly not recently.

Was I sick of it? Am I sick of it? Yes and yes.

But our story didn’t really end there, in Idaho, with me giving up and her moving on. First of all, I am not really one to give up. I will cling to the last threads of friendship until they snap. I have said it before on this blog, but let me repeat: I am not good at letting go. And so instead of letting us both go our separate ways, I made a desperate move: I asked her to be my Maid of Honor after Honey proposed to me. And she said yes. She was ecstatic actually, which thrilled me to no end. I told myself the reason I had asked her was because she was my closest friend, and responsible, and someone I loved and trusted, and all of that is true to a point. But really? I was just trying to cling to friendship that was already on life support.

From across the miles, Kat and I shopped for bridesmaid dresses and brainstormed showers together. But when it came time to actually throw my bridal shower, she admitted that she couldn’t really afford it. She had spent every last penny on her own wedding just months before (which I flew to California for, mind you) and she thought my bridesmaid (a cousin) should give the shower instead. The problem? My cousin also lived out-of-state and couldn’t do it because of work. Kat eventually relented and agreed to give the shower, but only after my parents offered to buy her a plane ticket so she could fly to Idaho to do it.

The shower was lovely, but the weekend was not. I had dreams of us spending all weekend together, making plans, going to dress fittings, shopping for the last-minute items I needed. Maybe even sharing a late-night dessert at a local diner, or having an early morning breakfast and coffee together. But all I got was the dress fitting. The rest of the time she spent with her family and other friends, and I was once again pushed to the back-burner. I should not have been surprised, but I was. In fact, I was crushed. It was my wedding that was approaching. And it was my parent’s money that had brought her to town. Couldn’t I be a priority for once?

In the end, though, she was truly there for me on my wedding day, and that’s what mattered most. We continued to keep in touch afterwards and I once again accommodated her schedule so that I could see her every time she came back to Idaho. It was a lot of work and exhausting trying to be her friend, but it was important to me. I didn’t want to lose the connection with the girl who was my Matron of Honor, someone who was such a huge part of such an important day in my life.

And then Infertility happened. To both of us. I went through it first as we tried to conceive my daughter. I was hopeless and broken after only a few months, and Kat said all the wrong things to me. She told me to relax. She told me everything would be fine. She told me what a great option adoption can be, multiple times in multiple e-mails. She’s right, but I was just at the start of my journey. I was not at any place where I was ready to consider giving up my dream of carrying my own child. It hurt me, but I tried not to take what she said to heart. I knew she didn’t understand.

But three months before I gave birth to Cupcake, Kat and her hubby started TTC as well. And a few months later, she admitted to me that they weren’t having any luck. Her cycles were far too close together and Clomid was not helping. I felt for her. I hurt for her. She e-mailed me almost daily for weeks, maybe months, with questions and fears and concerns. For the first time in our friendship, she needed me. And I won’t lie, it felt really good to be on the receiving end of it. But as she fell farther and farther into the depths of fertility treatments, she started withdrawing. It broke my heart a little, because I was doing everything I could to support her and be there for her. I was being the friend I had needed when struggling through my own journey. But nothing I said or did brought her back to me, and who could blame her really? I hadn’t needed to take the steps that she had in TTC. And I had a baby, the very thing she coveted. The last I heard — and this was over a year ago — she and her husband were in the process of deciding between IVF and adoption because they couldn’t afford both.

Kat has done a lot of things wrong to me. With some time and perspective, I have come to realize that I have been used at times. She’s been my friend when it’s convenient and easy. She is willing to ask and to receive, but less willing to give. Surely, I have been a better, truer, more loyal friend to her than she has been to me. But I know not all the fault lies in her hands. I have been a needy friend. I have tried too hard, and at times depended on her too much. I have perhaps had unfair demands or expectations. And — the thing that is really unforgivable in my eyes — I, too, said the wrong things to her in the early days of her fertility treatments, even when I should have known better. When Kat would worry over the future of her womb, I said once or twice that I worried too if I would ever have another child. Ugh. I know. At the time, I felt I was sympathizing with her, but now I just see it as insensitive and unfair. (Though, in my defense, I did later sincerely apologize for the thoughtlessness of such comments, and I have never made that same mistake again, to her or anyone else.)

Kat and I still connect over e-mail every now and then. She still doesn’t have a baby. We e-mailed back and forth a few times after my miscarriage. She asked what was wrong and, for the first time, I decided not to tell her. I just didn’t know if she could offer me the support I needed and, quite frankly, I was afraid to get a response such as “At least you can get pregnant” or “Just be happy you have Cupcake.” So I just told her I was grieving a very personal loss and didn’t really feel like talking about it. It took her weeks to respond with an “I’m sorry” and that’s when I decided our friendship was pretty much over. I can’t tell her things anymore and I can’t trust her to be there when I need her. And without that, what sort of friendship could it be but dead?

But here’s the thing: even that revelation has not been enough to force me to move on. Not completely, anyways. Because just a couple weeks ago, I e-mailed her again. While I don’t communicate with Kat much anymore and I don’t know where she’s at in her own family-building journey, I felt like it was my responsibility to inform her of my current pregnancy before announcing it on Facebook. I hate being ambushed by pregnancy announcements, and I wanted to be kind and try to protect her from such a surprise. This is just an excerpt of what I wrote in my e-mail to her, after telling her my news:

I don’t know anymore where you are at in your journey to have a baby, and I suspect you’re in a much better place than I ever was while going through this, but I wanted to tell you this privately before going public on Facebook next week because I have always hated being blindsided by pregnancy announcements. I wanted to show you the same sort of respect and sensitivity that I appreciate. I do totally understand if you’re not the in mood to be congratulatory and I will be happy to block you from any FB pregnancy posts if you prefer — no hard feelings, I promise. I hate that anyone else has to go through this, but I have more than one friend who is struggling through infertility in some way and has kindly asked that I don’t include them in this sort of thing. You can just let me know if that’s what you want.

I think that’s about the best I could do. It took her ages to respond to me — she still hadn’t when I began this post, which is what prompted me to write it in the first place — and once she did respond, it was short and sweet. Something like, “Congrats. Work is nutso. I bet Cupcake will like being a sissy.”  And that was it. So different than usual, so unlike her and the long, rambling e-mails I am used to. A part of me wants to make excuses for this. Maybe she doesn’t have anything happy to say. She doesn’t have her baby yet. She’s hurting. Of course she doesn’t want to share in my joy. I would be truly okay with that if I really believed that was the honest reason why she didn’t sound like herself in her e-mail. And yet… Yet, thanks to Facebook, I know she has attended baby showers, 1st birthday parties, and enjoys spending time with “squishy” babies on a regular basis. She does not appear to find it difficult to surround herself with other people’s children.

So now I’m feeling insulted and annoyed and exasperated and done. Just completely done. I really mean it this time. And I realize as I type this that I am now sounding like an addict trying to convince the world of the untruth, but that’s not it. I. Am. Done. Certainly, I won’t turn Kat away if she ever contacts me on her own, but I will no longer be the only one in this relationship who keeps making an effort here. I can’t keep being the only one who tries to be a friend, who tries to keep our friendship alive, who believes that we had something between us worth cherishing forever and ever. I just don’t have the time or energy. And, quite frankly, I just don’t care that much anymore. I have other friends who fulfill for me what Kat used to. I don’t need her now. If that makes me a bad friend, then so be it, I guess.

It is so hard to accept, though, that the girl who commiserated with me over our scary geometry teacher, the one who stood up for me when I got walked all over in Spanish class, the one who gave me advice when I lost my virginity, the one who stood beside me and held my bouquet when I said “I do” is no longer someone I know. Maybe not even someone I want to know. I suppose it is normal to grow up and grow apart, but it is still sad. Still one more thing in my life to grieve.

But I have been through worse. I have been molested. I have lost too many family members to count, been to too many funerals in just 29 years. I have been scarred by infertility. I have held my dead, 7-week embryo in my hands. Surely, I will get through this too.

In fact, this is starting to look pretty damn easy.

No Words

Do you all remember my friend Lillian who had three miscarriages before conceiving her daughter and recently learned she is expecting #2? The one who I can’t quit talking about because having her at my side is like having one of you with me, here, in real life?

Well, today she had her first ultrasound and there is no heartbeat. In just a single breath, we have switched roles and I am the one who is pregnant and she is the one who is not. There are no words to describe the sadness and despair I feel for her. She should not have to go through this again. What can I say? What can I do? Nothing, but offer her the same support and kindness she has offered me on my darkest days.

And this turn of events makes me so much more scared for the fate of my own pregnancy. My Honey keeps reminding me that these events, our ultrasounds, are independent from each other. Just because Lillian miscarried does not mean that I will. I know he is right. But seeing someone close to you go through this can feed into your own fears. And I am good at letting it all spiral out of control.

This is not how it’s supposed to happen. We are supposed to be going through our pregnancies together. Now, no matter what comes to pass on Friday, that won’t be happening. Everything has changed, and I just wish I could fix all that is broken.

Odds ‘n’ Ends: Clomid, PAs, Grief, My Mama, and Honey

Just a few bits and pieces to talk about today…

First off, I’ve been having daily headaches for the last week or two. Some days are worse than others, but the ache is almost always there. Up until three years ago, that was a chronic problem for me, but that’s not so anymore. It could be stress or lack of sleep (both holiday-related), but I’m thinking it’s from the increased Clomid dosage. I just really hope that having this one side effect isn’t an indication that the Clomid is affecting other parts of my body — like my lining. We’ll see tomorrow, when I go in for my first u/s of this cycle!

In other news, I went to a Mom’s Night Out Christmas Party for my mom’s group last Thursday. It was fun. After about two hours. Because those first 120 minutes consisted of one of the moms (a friend, but not a close one) announcing a pregnancy (which I’m now calling a PA because I’m too lazy to type “pregnancy announcement” more than once…or twice). She is now 8 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby. She did use IVF to conceive her first one, but got knocked up without trying for the next three. When she made her PA, I started crying. Quietly, and I don’t think anyone saw. Yes, I’m one of those infertiles who cries over someone else’s pregnancy. I just hate being blind-sided. I don’t blame her because, again, she’s not a close friend and she doesn’t know the extent of our TTC issues, but it hurt to hear about her getting a fourth baby because that’s what I want. She has everything I want.  Except I don’t want her kids (though they are exceptionally adorable and well-behaved), I want mine. I want my babies that have my mannerisms and look like me and emerged from my groin.  I went home that night bemoaning the unfairness of it all and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up feeling better, only to hear about the  shooting at Sandy Hook. Why, why, why?  And again I was struck by how unfair so much of life is. Not just for us infertiles, but for oh-so-many, all over the world. Life can be very cruel. I do believe in God and I don’t believe He had a hand in any of this (a topic worthy of its own post perhaps),  but it still angers me and frightens me to see what human beings are capable of doing to one another, especially those smaller and weaker than themselves. Those poor, poor babies…and the poor families left behind. I can only pray for their peace and comfort in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

On a much lighter note, my mom arrives tomorrow! I’m very excited for this. I haven’t talked about her a lot on this blog, but my mom and I are very close and have always been this way, even through adolescence. We talk every night on the phone and she comes for a long weekend every couple months. This time, she will be here for two-and-a-half weeks and I couldn’t be more tickled by it. Not only do I have lots of fun things planned for us, including a local holiday festival, going to a new cupcake shop, and two date nights with Honey while we have a babysitter, but this means that I will finally get a break after all this Christmas craziness. When my mom is here, I don’t have to do practically anything. She insists on doing laundry, doing dishes, bathing Cupcake, cleaning, all of it… It really is like a small vacation when she visits. But even more than that, I’m just excited to have her company…and to know that for a full ten days, while Honey is at work, I don’t have to be alone (as in, the only adult in the house). It will be a very welcome change of pace!

And speaking of Honey, the other day I opened one of the books I’m reading to find a Post-it note with this written on it: “I would like to thank you for the 1000 ways you’ve improved my life. Every moment with you is a blessing.” This guy is just too sweet. Only one more reason why I love him so.

Thankful for Thanksgiving’s End

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I’m all for taking time to give thanks for that which we are grateful, but shouldn’t we be doing that every day?

Instead, this holiday just seems like a lot of work for just one short day (as opposed to Christmas, which really seems to last for a whole month). And as a day that is all about the meal, it’s not a good time for someone who loves food and yet regrets every bite she eats. I spent most of my adolescence weighing fifty pounds more than I do now and, while I have never gained that weight back in the ten years since I lost it (not including during my pregnancy), I will never stop worrying about, fearing it, and feeling guilty for the calories I consume.

I once loved Thanksgiving, and every other holiday. As a kid, we always spent it with my mom’s family, and my grandparents’ home was filled with food, and games, and laughter, and a lot of people. But then things started to change. My grandma died. And my uncle. And my grandpa. And my cousin. My family dwindled and those of who were left kind of grew apart (and some of us even turned on each other).  Our glue that held us together was gone. And so now Thanksgiving (and Christmas, for that matter) is a sad, quiet holiday and, even though I have a child of my own now and even if I am so lucky to some day be able to fill our home with multiple children, it will never be the same.

And this year, for the first time since my freshman year of college at USF eleven years ago, I spent the holiday away from my own immediate family. That’s because, this year, we went to the in-laws, a six hour drive away (a six hour drive, I will tell you, that became a TEN hour drive, thanks to traffic). It was time, because we have never spent a holiday with them in the seven years that I have been with my husband, but it was strange and different and not something we plan to do often (thankfully, Honey is more than okay with this).

My in-laws, while very nice people with good intentions, are the kind of folks that one can only take in small doses. Especially my mother-in-law (Honey’s stepmom). She means well, but she’s high strung and much too strict with my daughter and she lacks the flexibility that house guests sometimes require. I think we disappointed her a little because much of the food she made for Thanksgiving (she insisted on doing all the cooking) was not something we could eat. I don’t eat red meat, and yet the stuffing (which is normally my favorite Thanksgiving dish) had sausage. My honey doesn’t eat mushrooms, nuts, or olives, so the stuffing, jello salad, and stuffed olives were out for him. And my daughter is nut- and dairy-free at this point, which basically excluded everything at the table except the turkey.  We did not mean to be difficult, but if she had asked for my input, I could have advised her on what we can and cannot have. And this was only one of the problems we encountered during our short stay with them!

My MIL did ask me how I was doing (in reference to our miscarriage), which was a surprise since she has not inquired about any such thing since we broke the news to them about our loss in April. She saw my necklace and inquired about it and when I told her the meaning, she then went on to ask how I am. She gave me a hug and told me she can’t understand what it’s like, but that she feels for me. She also said she hasn’t asked before because she doesn’t want to bring up all the sad feelings. Which is the same thing my sis has told me and, if I could, I would tell them both that they are doing me no service by pretending nothing has happened. The sadness is always there. I have not forgotten about my loss or my infertility. Mentioning it does not make it worse, it shows you care. That’s what I would say, if I needed their support, but I have realized now I really don’t. I have you guys. And that’s enough.

So that’s the story of my pitiful Thanksgiving. What about you? Any good in-laws anecdotes you’d like to share?

Addendum

This is an addendum to my last post.

I just spoke with our fertility clinic about my husband’s SA. I was obsessing over the morphology, so I called for clarification. And just as I feared — morphology is low (read: bad). In fact, it is very low (read: very bad). Only 1% of his sperm are shaped as they should be.

Um…what???

How can it be that, with sperm like that, we conceived a healthy baby girl the first time I ovulated back in 2010? And how can it be that, even in my last pregnancy, we conceived on my first ovulation if Honey’s sperm morphology is so rotten? Unless…the morphology is what caused my miscarriage. Maybe? (Maybe not?) And isn’t it possible that with a higher-than-normal sperm count (as Honey had), that there might be a smaller percentage of “good” sperm (but still the number of good sperm would be adequate)? And is it at all possible for the lab to get this wrong? I don’t know. I’m just throwing ideas out there and I’m not sure we’ll ever really have an answer.

Either way, they (“they” being the nurse I just spoke with) are now recommending IUI.

And I am crushed. I am not ready for IUI, not financially, not mentally or emotionally, not right now. I just can’t do it. I can’t.

And I can’t quit crying either because now it’s feeling like this cycle is already a bust and like we may never be able to give my daughter a sibling. I feel as if we’re already at the end of the road.

Today, I wouldn’t mind if the Mayans are right. Wouldn’t everything just be easier if the world ended next month?