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.

letting go

“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.” – J.C. Watts

The concept of letting things go is not a new one. But, letting go of what? Once something is in my grasp, I hold it tight and God help the poor sap who tries to take it from me. I have been known to feel intense amounts of uncontrollable anger when someone messes with my plans – even Mother Nature. Especially Mother Nature. She certainly has it out for me, sometimes, and when I cannot blame another human being for when things fall apart, I shake my fist at her and curse. My husband laughs every time he thinks of the weekend we visited the place where we would be getting married. The plan was for both sets of parents to fly down to meet us, and I was thrilled because they would finally be meeting each other. Well, a tropical storm came through and cancelled my in-laws’ flight, so they could not come. I just remember sitting in the rental car, on our way to the hotel, furious tears streaming down my face because “the whole weekend [was] ruined!!!!”.

I do realize this kind of reaction may not be the most healthy thing in the world…

But, I’ve always been that way. When things happened during my childhood that I could not fix, I blamed myself, even though most of the time those things were completely out of my control. Maybe that’s why I have such issues with it. I’m making up for all the times I couldn’t control my life and my circumstances then.

So, what does this have to do with my infertility journey? Everything. Because even in this, I am a control freak. And I’m beginning to realize that holding tight to my circumstance has become detrimental. By gripping my problems in tight fists, how can I ever fully give them over to God?

And so, I have decided to let go.

Yes, I can see the irony in a blog post titled “letting go” on a blog called “Holding onto Dreams.” But this post isn’t about letting go of dreams. This post is about letting go of all the things that, as infertility sufferers, may in fact be holding us back from those dreams. And like the quote above, I don’t want to be weak anymore. I want to be strong. Don’t you? And to do that, we need to let go.

1. Let go of blame
Infertility is not an excuse to play the blame game. No one is at fault. Not your husband. Not your doctor. Not God. And, especially not me or you! We need to stop beating ourselves up over something that we have no control over (see, there’s that C word again). Infertility can happen at any moment and to anyone. There is no rhyme or reason (mostly). Instead of blame, seek comfort and love. Don’t push people away. Hold on tighter. We need all the support we can get through this tough time.

2. Let go of worry and uncertainty
Worry, especially continuous and unrelenting worry, is flat out unhealthy. And, in cases of infertility, downright damaging. I have spent countless hours worrying over what-ifs. What if we never get pregnant? What if I miscarry? What if we spend all this money and go into debt all for nothing? What if we don’t spend all this money and we regret it? What if, what if, what if? It’s enough to drive anyone insane. I for one am done worrying.

3. Let go of the past

Dwelling on what has already happened or wallowing in self-pity because of the cards we have been dealt in life will not change a. single. thing. Focusing on the future and all its infinite possibilities? Now that’s something to hold onto.

4. Let go of anger

This kind of goes with blame. Anger is a release, but it is a destructive one. Find a better channel for release, something that makes you happy and something that helps you to focus on all the wonderful things you already have. Don’t ever forget all the ways you are blessed, because as soon as you do, that’s when the anger and the resentment starts to creep in.

5. Let go of jealousy

Jealousy, like anger, is destructive. It ruins friendships, it breaks apart families – and in a time like this, we NEED those friends and our family to help us through. Don’t feel envy when someone tells you they are pregnant (trust me, I deal with this all the time, so I get it). Instead, be happy for them and try to remember that each person may be hiding a struggle similar to ours. And don’t envy those people because although they may be getting the one thing you want more than anything in the world, they may be struggling in some other (or many other) area(s) in their lives. We don’t know, and we should never assume.

Obviously, that is just the tip of the iceberg, and these things may not be issues you deal with. That said, what other things do you think that would be better off being let go? Feel free to add them in the comments. Or, make a list of your own. Either way, remember that many times we have to lose before we can gain.

my holistic journey

I mentioned in an earlier post that my dear husband (DH) and I decided to forgo further infertility treatments until we exhaust all avenues to get my body as baby-ready as possible.holistic1

To date, I have:

1. Lost 30 pounds

Ten of those pounds I lost twice – once before vacation, and once after vacation when I gained it back and had to lose it again. 😉 Seriously, though, I’m feeling better than I have in a while. More energy (and we work out like fiends six days a week!), better attitude, less brain-fog… the list goes on. While I’m not where I want to be, even this small improvement is a very positive thing, I think.

2. Gone gluten-and-casein free

We-ell… 99% gluten-free. It’s not so easy! But I honestly feel so much better when I am NOT eating gluten. And, no, I’m not doing this as part of the fad “gluten-free diet.” I have a legitimate intolerance to the stuff. I do NOT have celiac disease – and for that I am extremely grateful! But while gluten intolerance is on the mild end of the spectrum of gluten issues, there’s really something to it. Apparently it’s most common for people with an autoimmune disease (lucky us!). I’ve been doing immense amounts of research on it, and I’ll probably do a series of posts on gluten-intolerance, autoimmune disorders, and infertility. But, I digress.

3. Begun taking supplements

And I’m not talking about a couple of supplements. I’ve been seeing a licensed pharmacist in our area who has a holistic compounding pharmacy. He has been working with me to find a customized plan to fix many of the underlying issues I have that are linked to having hypothyroidism (low body temperature, acne/skin issues, things like that). I have to say, it’s really working well! I started with a body temp in the low 97s, and now I average 98.4-98.6! Huge improvement. My skin has been clearing up, as well, which is a plus. I mean, come on, who likes to be 30 and still have acne?

4. Started focusing on the positive

Let’s face it, one of the hardest parts of being infertile is keeping an optimistic outlook. So, that’s definitely something I’ve begun working on. When I start dwelling on the negatives, I force myself to think of things that make me happy and that I am blessed with (often going back to my post on ten ways i am blessed to remind me!)

That being said, I had my follow-up appointment with the pharmacist on Tuesday. He seemed really happy about the good results I am having, and we are going to add ovulation tests to make sure I am actually ovulating. My cycles are, in general, like clockwork, but that doesn’t necessarily equal ovulation. So, that starts this month. In the midst of all that, I’ll continue to work on the other points above. And, celebrating six years with my DH this week is just another reason to be blissfully happy. 🙂

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.