Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My amazing ride

Does anyone else think It's a Small World is a total snooze?
My last post was written months ago. Thankfully, I am not currently feeling those emotions. In fact, I feel quite calm and satisfied with my life. I am enjoying my new job and my relationship with my husband. We have some upcoming trips, I am working on some personal goals, and I feel like I am getting my life back after residency. I appreciated all of the responses from friends and family (and even strangers) from afar both in time and location, with posts on my blog, Facebook, and even personal messages. I especially appreciate those who opened up to me about their own struggles. It really feels like a smaller world, after all.

Infertility straps you into a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. A really long one with big ups and downs. I think it is hard to understand if you haven't been on this ride before. So...

I thought I would share an abbreviated (although still quite long) version of my ride for those seeking to understand (maybe to support a friend or loved one--maybe me!) or to compare if you are on the ride yourself. I write in the "you" voice to maybe help you imagine better for yourself.

I would love to hear if anyone has had a similar experience of if these feelings are exclusively my own.

* * *

In real life, I like roller coasters. But after a long day of amusement park rides, I find myself home in bed with my room spinning and feeling like I never stepped off those crazy loop-d-loop rides or spinning cars. Infertility is a bit like this. Sometimes you wonder if the ride you are on is even real. Are you just imagining it? Could something really be wrong with the body you always thought was so healthy? Are you sure it isn't just timing or stress or (fill in the blank)?

The decision to try to get pregnant is a hard one. You feel nervous. Is it the right time? How will you make it work? How will it change your life? You are nervous but also excited. It seems like the right time. You feel ready to be a parent, and more importantly, your spouse would be fantastic at it. You expect to get pregnant right away. You stock up on pre-natal vitamins, and actually take them. You are almost nervous thinking it could happen so fast.

Then it doesn't.

Each month you start by waiting (anyone who has been to Disneyland knows this is a big part of the experience of an amusement park). You wait patiently (or maybe not), telling yourself this may be the month. You may even start feeling symptoms (I'm not feeling very good, is that early onset morning sickness? My chest hurts, was that from lifting at the gym or am I pregnant?) and you start to get your hopes up. Finally, about a day before you should know on your own, you break open that package of pregnancy tests. You know, one of many stashed in the cupboard. This time you hope it will be the last and you will have to figure out what to do with the rest that are no longer useful. You nervously take the test and wait the 3 minutes, and then the 10 (just in case). You wonder how you will tell your significant other the good news. And then you start to talk yourself down. "No, it isn't going to be this month. Why would it?" And sure enough, you throw the test in the trash. You casually tell your spouse sometime over the next few days, "Oh, yeah, the pregnancy test was negative."

At first you are disappointed. It is hard to wait another month but you remain optimistic. After months of this, it becomes normal to throw the test in the trash and continue with your day with only a few moments of reflection on the associated frustration, disappointment, or sadness.

And then maybe you start to feel relieved. At least I did...You try to convince yourself how it just "isn't the right time." You tell yourself you like your life as it is and surely a baby would complicate the matter. Vacations would be hard. Money would become more scarce. Your body will change and that is a little scary. There are question marks about how to make "it work" when a baby finally comes. So, for now, waiting one more month wont hurt. Just that much more time for you (the highly lauded "me time") and to prepare.

When the time is right, you finally seek help from your doctor. They start by doing an ultrasound to check your anatomy. It isn't the fun kind when you are pregnant and they rub the cold jelly on your belly and you get to see the present inside. Unfortunately, it is a little more personal than that. You start to feel a bit like this is real as you lie half exposed in the cold room. This hard time getting pregnant maybe is no joke. Maybe something is wrong.

And then you start the medications. Just a little pill, clomid. Except they want you to start taking some other medications to make sure all of your hormones are even. Suddenly you are on metformin (usually used for diabetics) and synthroid (used in low thyroid patients). You feel sick nauseated almost every day and vomit multiple times a week on these new medications. People start to notice and start asking you if you are pregnant, when the baby is due, have you thought if you are pregnant?

And the clomid, it makes you a little crazy. You might cry at work in front of your co-workers when they tell you they added a patient on to your schedule suddenly. You feel embarrassed and like a crazy person. You don't want them to think you are emotionally unstable but you also aren't really telling people you are on medications or trying to get pregnant. It is still early on and maybe you shouldn't tell co-workers because then they will know you are trying to get pregnant and get worried about how you will handle your work.

And you start the cycle again. Except now you are hopeful. This medication has helped lots of women get pregnant-- and sometimes with multiples (which makes you a little nervous). Instead of the home test, you start having blood draws every few weeks (great when you are a needle phobic person like me). You are disappointed as you review the results and find you still haven't ovulated. They increase the medications slowly, month by month. You try to be patient as time ticks by. Even though you are trying to take it all in stride, on top of it all you are frustrated by the side effects of your condition which includes horrible acne and increased body hair. On top of your frustration, you feel embarrassed and ugly and you worry it has permanent effects like scars. You are told there are two options to treat these conditions: 1. birth control pills or 2. pregnancy. Neither seem to be a viable option.

They may even switch medications. And after months, they decide this just doesn't seem to be working. (At least you aren't vomiting anymore.)  The disappointment becomes even more real each month as the treatments that were supposed to make this happen don't seem to work. You start wondering what comes next. You start worrying about what comes next because it seems like a big deal.

You are finally told that in order to get pregnant you will need more invasive procedures. They could start with injections that could put you at risk for ovulating something like 8 eggs. If you do this, you can't get pregnant or you could have 8 babies. Or, you can go ahead with in vitro fertilization.

You never thought you would have to be one of the ones who did that! That is what other people that get whispered about ("Oh, so and so had to do IVF -- but now she has twins!") go through, not you. Surely you don't have to go through all of that craziness!

But, looks like you do. If you want to get pregnant. You realize IVF is no joke. It takes weeks and includes multiple medications and costs thousands of dollars.

You wonder if you even really want a baby. You ask yourself, "Do I want a baby at $25,000?" Or would I just prefer a new car? It is a funny question to ask, and you know the answer but...

Suddenly this feels real.

And you realize maybe you just need a break from it all. What a relief when your doctor suggests you go back on birth control for awhile.

You know you are taking a step backwards but you are relieved to step off the ride for awhile. All of the spinning and adrenaline, ups and downs, and nausea have taken its toll. You know you have the multi-day admission and will be coming back, but for now heading to bed to sleep it off sounds pretty good!


SeƱora H-B said...

I have stalked your blog off and on for a long time. I went to BYU with your husband about a million years ago. My husband and I are in a somewhat similar position (though no one can really understand anyone's individual struggle with infertility). I finished my PhD last year and am starting my first tenure-track job this year. We have been married six years and I have had five miscarriages - one particularly devastating one after an IUI. We have no children.

I have had to fight back tears so many times when someone asks about kids. I dread Mother's Day and end up sobbing through the Primary program. I never wanted to be one of those people. Still, like you, I long suspected that I would have difficulty having children. Sometimes I wish my intuitions weren't quite so spot on.

I recently decided it was time to stop hiding. I've posted occasionally about infertility on my very infrequently updated blog, but made the jump to being more open with people in person and even *cringe* talked about it on Facebook. I'm sick of hiding. I'm sick of people making assumptions about the choices I've made (and then voicing those assumptions). I'm glad you're not hiding anymore too!

We haven't made it past the IUI stage and I don't know that we will. I don't know if that's the right choice for us. We're in no-man's land right now, but I wholeheartedly agree with you: sometimes it's just time to take a break and take a rest.

Wishing you all the best on this journey. Hugs from an internet stranger!

Erin said...

Thanks for finally making yourself known Senora! Thank you for sharing your story as well. I think being open is the best thing I have done.

With that said, after posting this I feel pretty nervous and a little pit in my stomach. I hope it was the right thing to do. It may be boring or too much information for some. But I know when I first started dealing with all of this I was looking for posts like this of what to expect, to see if I was the only one, etc. So at risk of whatever (I guess feeling a little nervous about how this post is received and for putting it out there), here I am in the open.

Good luck. I love that you are in such a cool career!

Natalie Green said...

Thank you for mentioning your relief in your situation. Not that I can really comprehend what you feel like, I relate to your story. I just had a miscarriage @9 weeks that threw my excitement into shock and sadness. After I had a chance to grieve, I honestly felt relieved. Although part of my relief was a letdown of pregnancy nausea, I thought it was a strange reaction. In fact, I felt guilty for feeling that way.
Later I thought that maybe Heavenly Father was comforting me, I thought maybe He knew I wasn't ready for another baby yet. It's hard to find peace when we can't control what we desperately want to. Thanks for sharing, I really look up to you. Especially for your honesty and humor FYI.

Mom said...

My dear baby. I cry as I read through your struggles. I understand, completely and I love you and I understand your struggles. As a mother, long for you to have all your dreams come true. I also fear... knowing how hard it is to be a mother. There are times I wonder how my life would different without the burdens motherhood has given me, and yet, at the same time, I revel in the knowledge that some of my daughters have entered that relm. I fear for them, feel for them, rejoice for them, and yet, I hate that you have to struggle with this. It shouldn't be this hard. If you want this, it shouldn't be this hard. Still, part of me is so proud of you... for not just sitting around, feeling sorry for yourself that you haven't been successful yet. I am so proud of the way you've forged forward with your life, in spite of your struggles with childbearing. What a great woman you are. I am confident you will be a mother and you will be a fulfilled, successful mother who has it ALL!!!!! I love you. Fingers crossed and all positive energies and attractions....

Melanie Wright Mullen said...

I'm not sure if Amber mentioned to you, but I have the same struggles as you. Sam and I have have been married 7 1/2 years and still no babies. I've done clomid, metformin, as well as others just like you. I stopped before injections- emotionally I was done. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had to step back. Sam and I would love to be parents, but maybe it isn't in the works for us. We started to adoption process and everything was set up with LDS Adoption- and now they don't do adoption. It's hard. Very hard. Especially with that happening, we felt like every time we turned there was a brick wall.
I understand the roller coaster ride it is, the mixed emotions when a friend or loved one shares their good news. And I've tried to convince myself I don't need to be a mom to be happy, too. Some days it works and some days it doesn't! Do I have an amazing life? Yes! I live in gorgeous Alaska, we own a duplex and are building our second house, I have a good job, and most importantly, an amazing husband. We can do whatever we want whenever we want, and often take random road trips. We love it!
Could I be content? Yes. Am I? Sometimes. But you can't just turn off that longing. It's there, always pulling at your heart strings.
Recently I've been a lot more open about my infertility as well. I basically came to the conclusion that I was tired of feeling awkward or offended when people asked me about when we were going to have kids. I've posted similar things on FB to help people understand where I'm coming from and how things really feel for us. So many people can't even comprehend, including my mom. She never had issues, and will be the first to say she will never say she understands because she doesn't. But she is always willing to be there for me to cry on the phone to, to listen to my hurt and frustration and to grieve with me, which is so so important to me.
I still feel awkward sometimes when people ask, and it still hurts, but I've found helping them understand a little by telling them what's up helps them to be more conscious in general. Maybe this helps you in some way, and maybe it doesn't. But know that you aren't the only one struggling both with these emotions, etc and with trying to decide how open to be about it! Personally, it was good for me to open up. Other than this, I hope all is well with you! :)

Erin said...

Natalie, I had no idea you were going through all of that. I think being honest with ourselves and our emotions is important. We feel so much guilt over what we "should or shouldn't" be feeling instead of accepting them and addressing them. Thank you for sharing! Hugs to you.

Erin said...

Mom, I didn't mean to make you cry! Thank you for your words.

Melanie, thanks for sharing. I remember Amber vaguely mentioning something about that. It is really hard. I wonder how my attitude would be if it had been that long. It is still early enough on I feel optimistic for the future but I try to prepare myself everyday, just in case. XOXO

~Kate said...

You have described my exact experience. Well said and thanks for sharing.