hormonal

The human body never ceases to amaze me. We are like a tapestry with hundreds and thousands of tiny little threads that interweave to make up the whole. When even one thread gets pulled out of alignment, the tapestry can completely unravel. Likewise, when even one tiny piece of our bodies are out of sync, it affects the whole body – and that makes conception (which is already a slim chance) next to impossible.

I know I have been quiet for about two weeks. Sorry about that. I just need to take some time to get my bearings. You see, my hubby and I thought I was pregnant (ah, how many times have I uttered those words in the past 5 years?), so for one of the weeks, I was too anxious and (naively) hopeful so I didn’t want to write about anything and jinx it. Then, when I got my period, well – the second week was a period of mourning. By now, you would think I would not let myself get too hopeful. I know, it’s kind of a morbid thing to say, but when you wish for something so much and then have to watch the dream get dashed over and over, it really takes a psychological toll.

So, no, I’m not pregnant. But, I think this is a positive step (or at least that’s what I am trying to convince myself of) because of a few reasons:

  1. (And, to me, most important,) I was not on any medication that enhances “pregnancy symptoms” (like Clomid). I’ve done that before, and I loathe Clomid because (before I figured out that the drug can make you feel like you’re pregnant when you’re not) I would get so excited only to be so completely wrong.
  2. I had stronger symptoms then those times on Clomid.
  3. I had symptoms I never had before.

That tells me that the supplements I am taking must be getting all the out-of-whack things in my body straightened out. Not quite there yet, but I must be getting closer, right?

In the meantime I have been instructed to begin checking ovulation. So far this month I haven’t had any indication other than a faint pink line on cycle day 9. Oh, and that’s another thing. My periods seem to be getting closer together. They are averaging 26 days, and I have no clue if this is bad or not. I guess it doesn’t matter if I’m not even ovulating. Or maybe I am ovulating but the hormones are not getting to the level they need to be…

Like the title states: I am hormonal. There are so many hormones that play a part in this process and with my autoimmune disorder, it’s so hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t. Progesterone, estrogen, thyroid hormones, etc. Ugh. And, I have an appointment to check my thyroid levels next week (here’s hoping they’re correct!).

I feel like an old puzzle that you pull out and start to put together, only to find at the very end that the last couple of pieces are missing, and you can’t finish it.

Yep, that’s exactly how I feel.

treading water

A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. -Eda J. Le Shan

I think we have all, at one point or another, wanted something so much that it consumes us. The hope becomes a dream, the dream becomes an obsession, and the obsession becomes an all-encompassing addiction.

Addictions hurt.

We start to neglect the ones we love. We start to neglect ourselves. Daily, I have to force myself to remember that I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  The title of mother does not make up my entire identity, and I should never shove aside those other roles because they are here, and they are now, and there are people who love me and need me to give them my time and my love. I owe them that much, and I cannot free myself to be the best wife (daughter/sister, etc.) possible if all my energy is focused on the one thing I am not.

It isn’t easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. The desire is so strong inside me that it constantly threatens to burst forth. And, my body has become my worst enemy. When you struggle through infertility, and you want it so bad, you start to see things that aren’t there. Phantom symptoms. Wishful thinking. “I’ve got all the signs, I must be pregnant!”

Infertility treatment makes it no easier. Many of the drugs we take literally enhance PMS symptoms (which, coincidentally, are very similar to pregnancy symptoms. As if things aren’t complicated enough, let’s make those identical!). I can remember taking Clomid before an IUI and then, during the two-week-wait, thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never experienced [enter symptom here] before, this must be it!” Only to be severely disappointed; often after being an entire week late (which I never am).

Yeah, infertility sucks.

Unless you have been through it, infertility is also not an easy thing to describe. I cannot put into words the immense sense of loss and longing. Or, the feeling of being irrevocably broken. The inadequacy, like you have failed your significant other. It’s like treading water in the middle of the ocean. You keep moving your limbs and pray that you see land, but all around you is water. The only thing you can do is try to keep from being pulled under.

love is stronger than blood

I cannot watch Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials, nor can I walk through PetSmart during pet adoption days. Everyone has a kryptonite, and animals are mine. I am the girl who falls in love with a dog after the first nanosecond of introduction, who would, given the chance, adopt every single animal I came across. It’s not a compulsion… I just really have a heart for animals. I’ve said on numerous occasions that my pets are my fur babies, and it’s true. They are more than just animals to me. They are my family.

When it comes to children, my reaction is really no different. I cannot hold a baby without them taking a little piece of my heart. Four years as a preschool teacher taught me that even the most seemingly unlovable child will grab onto my heart with grubby little hands and I am just completely head-over-heels.

In high school, I had the opportunity to go with a group in our church to Central America. The whole trip was an experience I will never forget, but one particular scene has dug itself deep into my memories. Just a quick, tiny little thing, but one day we were performing at a school, and there were so many young children around us. A good friend of mine had picked up a little girl, no more than four, and placed her on his hip. Her tiny little arms wrapped around his neck and her big eyes looked up at him while she said something in Spanish. I was taking Spanish for my high school language course, so he looked to me and asked, “What did she say?”

I blinked back tears and replied, “She asked, ‘Would you be my daddy?'”

Only a teenager at that time, yet I wanted to take that little girl home with me. So, naturally, I do not look on the idea of adoption with disdain or trepidation. Would I like to have my own child, my own blood, who looks a bit like my husband and me? Lord knows how much. But does that mean I would be resentful if I had to go the adoption route?

Not a bit.

Families come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Love is stronger than the blood that binds us. I would love an adopted child no less that one created inside of me. I know that some people don’t feel that way, and that’s fine. We are all created with different things that speak to our hearts. But I do want to try everything in my power to have at least one child through traditional means. I want to have that experience.

I feel I have the right to that.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way. God knows better than we do what we need. As much as I want it, maybe I am just not meant to. And I’ll be at peace with that revelation in time.

Just not right now. I can’t give up on that dream just yet.

friday rant: keeping focus

Since deciding that I need to focus all my energy, for now, not on getting pregnant but on making myself pregnancy-ready, I have been feeling more positive about things. I have lost a total of 30 lbs in the past year, which is a big deal for me. I’ve started taking a lot of supplements (under medical supervision) to help fix a lot of deficiencies I have because of my thyroid dysfunction. I have gone gluten-free and (mostly) dairy-free because of a newly-discovered gluten intolerance (yet another side-effect of an autoimmune disorder).

Frankly, I have been feeling wonderful! My hubby and I work out almost every day of the week, and we exercise like fiends. Running, walking, aerobics, strength/resistance training… you name it, we do it all. But, that’s not even what this post is about. No, this post is about when other people say things that (on-purpose or not) threaten to derail all my good intentions.

I have friends and family members who have recently told me of their pregnancies, and I am sincerely happy for them. However, during conversations there are times when I have to mentally force myself not to read more into things that are said. And, I have to bite my tongue more often than not lest the angry green monster rears its ugly head. How many times have I wanted to say, “I’ll trade you!” or make some snide remark whenever people complain about their pregnancy. Complaining about the physical hardships of pregnancy is a rite of passage, I get that – and when I am pregnant (Lord willing) I will be oh-so-happy to join in with the masses gone before me who have whined about swollen feet and morning sickness. But right now, it’s hard to be on the other end of the fence looking in and wanting, needing, hoping, and trying not to feel bitter.

At those moments, all my focus goes right out of all the good strides I am making and I begin to focus on my infertility again, and how unfair it all is, and why does she get to have her second child, third child (hell, even first child) after only a short time of trying (and for me, a short time is anything less than 2 years) when I can’t even have my first after FIVE. LONG. YEARS? I want to just stop all the good things I was doing and just wallow in self pity. I wanted to throw in the towel.

But, do you know what? I’ve been getting better. When those thoughts start to creep in, I put on some loud, happy music, and I shove aside all that negative energy. Because what I am doing is more than just about getting pregnant (though that is a huge motivation). It is about making myself better, more whole, and more healthy. I can’t control my infertility. But I can control how I deal with it, and the parts of my infertility I can control that *may* help in the long run, I am choosing to focus on those.

The rest, I just have to keep giving to God and have faith.

once upon a time

Every story has a beginning. This is mine.

Almost ten years ago, I met my husband. We had quite an unconventional courtship – we are both gamers, and met on an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, for those of you non-geeks reading this). What started in-game moved to e-mails, then phone, until we finally met in person and began dating. We dated for a few years before getting married. And we lived happily ever after.

Mostly.

All couples reach a point in their relationship, a huge fork in the road where they must decide which path to take. Children or no children? For my husband and I, it was a no-brainer. “We’re ready. Let’s start a family.” We reached our one-year anniversary and decided unanimously that we wanted children starting then. Together, we stared down our new path with hearts full of excitement and hope for the future.

Little by little, our hope began to wither with each month that passed with no baby. The first few months, it is easy to brush it off. After six months, I started to worry that something may be wrong. After a year, we booked an appointment with my OBGYN. She did all the necessary bloodwork, but the only thing she noticed was that my progesterone levels were “slightly” low. Because we had been trying a year, however, she booked us with a nearby reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and thus, we began our first attempt at infertility treatment.

During this first attempt, I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which basically means, “We don’t have a clue what the issue is.” They even did a laparoscopy on me, only to find that one fallopian tube never developed. But, I was told that should not affect conception at all (only that multiple births are a very bad idea for me). I should also mention that I have thyroid dysfunction, but that was not once addressed by my RE. My husband was checked and given a clean bill of health. The problem is most definitely me, but what the problem is, is a mystery.

**Now, I have some serious issues with REs, and with “unexplained infertility” as a diagnosis (or at least my own personal RE, because I’m sure not all are the same), but I’ll save that for another post.**

We have tried infertility treatments (including meds and trigger shots and IUIs) off and on for almost five years now, with no luck. Years of heartbreak have taken their toll, and I have decided that I am done with having treatments shoved down my throat without any attempts to identify and fix my underlying problems.

I have begun focusing inward. Weight loss, getting off blood pressure meds, and making my body as baby-ready as possible are just a few of my goals. I would love to know if any of you are following a similar path, and if so, what types of things you are doing.

~*~