#Microblog Mondays: Infertility, the disease

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I was thinking back to when my mom first asked me about our infertility (I had started following an infertility board on pinterest and stupidly had my Face.book account linked so she saw it there). I was very vague with her, at the time J and I didn’t know much about what we were up against but we knew it wasn’t good ( we had just recently received his first SA back, with bad results). It was looking back on this, that got me considering infertility, thinking on it as a disease (which it is).

It’s tricky to categorize it as such though as the true definition of a disease is;

A particular abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism.

But with infertility, I find it doesn’t fit as neatly into this box. The definition of infertility is even varied, and vague (I won’t post all of the different definitions, but you can check them out here). In some instances an infertility diagnoses is based on attempting conception for a specific period of time (and this time period can vary depending on your age). It can be more straightforward if there is a reason for your infertility, perhaps PCOS, MFI, blocked tube, ect. Makes it easier to have a reason, but doesn’t always make it easier to treat (and by easier, I mean it’s easier for a doctor to put you in the box “infertile”). It get’s tricky because it takes (at minimum) two people to make a baby, but when one person is given a diagnoses of infertile, it often applies to the other half of the baby making couple too. For example; in my case, the most likely cause given to us for our infertility was male factor. But notice, it is “our” infertility, not just his. As far as we know, my “bits” are all in working order, yet I still consider myself infertile.

Sometimes there is no reason found (so you have a disease, but no one knows why, or what to do about it). It’s not really recognized as a disease by those that don’t suffer from it. It’s seen more as a hurdle, a barrier, but nothing so serious as a physiological problem (which it generally is in some form or another).

Infertility is a slippery beast to pin down. I can understand why the general population has a hard time recognizing it as a disease, when the medical community doesn’t even provide a concise definition. It’s not talked about like a real disease, there are no well known “runs”, or fundraisers. But those of us who suffer from it know better. So here’s hoping for more recognition, more research, more hope and more understanding.

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#Microblog Mondays: The Butterfly Effect

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While in the shower yesterday the date hit me; it was Dec. 13. That fateful day one year ago when our baby girl began to grow inside of me. I was a ball of anxiety for the week that preceeded my BFP (and for a good lot of the time afterwards too, but that was the first big exhale). I look at this chubby little 3 1/2 month old, sleeping in the other room and my breath still catches.

The learning curve of parenthood has been steep and difficult but oh so worth it. And really, I can say the same about our infertility experience I suppose. It was a rough road, but had we not gone down that path we would not have this precious little girl. I kiss her fuzzy head and breathe her baby smell and know that I would do it the same all over again because that specific embryo created this specific baby; and she is our daughter, the one sent from the universe specifically for us. 

Life is interesting that way, like a butterfly flapping its wings halfway around the world, one minor deviation can ripple out in innumerable and immeasurable ways. So I wouldn’t change a thing. 

#Microblog Mondays: Jinxes

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I can be superstitious about silly things (especially for a reasonable, analytical person like me) and that was definitely true all throughout our IF treatments, and carried into pregnancy. One of my superstitions is to do with Murphy’s Law, in that if you make plans, anything that can go wrong, will. Lately, my mind keeps thinking “what if our baby is in fact…not a girl”. We are ready, in that we have all of the stuff we think we’ll need. But it’s all girl stuff. Granted we did a blood test to detect fetal DNA for determining gender, plus our sonographer was pretty confident at our anatomy scan that she is in fact a girl. I’m pretty sure it’s silly to worry about, doesn’t happen often (please don’t share the horror stories with me!) but my mind just goes there. It wouldn’t be the end of the world but it would be a huge pain in the ass!

Another thing I am very protective, and superstitious of is her name. It has been a secret, mainly to avoid unwanted comments but also sort of to keep her for ourselves. The other day I was in a shop and the cashier asked when I was due, if I knew the gender, if we had a name picked out, ect. I answered all of her questions and she asked me what the name was. Previously when asked this by a random person I’ve either lied and said we don’t know, or told them it’s a secret. But for some reason, I told this woman. Perhaps because we’re so close to the end, and there was no one else around. But as soon as I did it I felt awful. J was waiting for me outside the shop, with our dogs, and I didn’t tell him what happened. I felt like I had betrayed him.

The only person who has the power of the jinx is me, I just need to let it go.

#Microblog Mondays: Dry Run

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This past Thursday I hadn’t felt much movement from baby girl. When at work it was sometimes hard to pay attention to her movement but it was unusually minimal that day. I waited until we got home so I could lay down and focus more. My doctor always asks about movement and is very adamant that I pay attention to kicks and keep a kick count if necessary. Anything less than 6 kicks in 2 hours warrants a trip to labor and delivery.

After driving home (when I usually get kicked a lot), I had some sugary juice, and a bit of dinner. After near two hours I had only felt around 4 very mild movements. Off to the hospital we went. I was admitted to the assessment wing, gowned and set up in a cubicle (they’re not proper rooms, just curtains separating beds). The nurse came in to check on me, I explained the situation and she hooked me up to two different belly monitors. 

We sat there listening to baby’s heartbeat and counting movement for the next half hour or so. Of course once I was all strapped in baby girl decided to wiggle around more. Still not as much as usual but way more than she had been all day. Murphy’s law, they hook me up and baby makes me look like a paranoid preggo just looking for some extra monitoring. No one made me feel that way though, the doctor said I did the right thing, they kept me on the monitors for a little while longer and then released me. I had an OB appt the next morning and she said it was the right call and if it happens again, to go back. 

She’s been back to her wiggly self lately, which is comforting. But at least we got to do a dry run of the intake process!

#Microblog Mondays: Don’t Poke the Bear

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Though I haven’t noticed many huge mood swings throughout my pregnancy (no happy to sad in 30 seconds kind of thing), it has definitely affected my tolerance for annoyances. I find I get irritable extremely easily, and have a hard time controlling my reaction to said annoyances. It’s mainly at work, people just really push my buttons (co-workers more so than clients). I am by far the youngest person in my department so I’ve sort of become the in house tech support by virtue of knowing computer basics. It drives me bat shit crazy, helping others with technology is one of the frustrating experiences ever!

Other things that drive me mental;

  • The lady who insists on watching idiotic videos from Facebook, at full volume, in the lunch room, while others are trying to enjoy a peaceful break.
  • People who don’t attempt to figure something out, or find the answer on their own before asking for help.
  • Driving. Pregnancy hormones = road rage
  • People wasting my time/taking way too long to do something that I could get done in half the time
  • Line ups
  • The guy sitting in the waiting area of my OB’s office typing on his phone with the keyboard clicks on full volume (you know the “tick-tick” noise an iPhone makes when you are typing). Turn that shit off mofo!

Just to name a few. I used to consider myself a person with patience, and willing to help (besides with the tech-y stuff, that has always driven me crazy but it’s at a whole other level now), so I know it’s just the pregnancy hormones. It makes me feel a bit bad, but most the time I am too annoyed to care. Luckily my hubby hasn’t receive much of my wrath, and he’s done a pretty good job of taking care of me and not ticking me off!

I’m hoping my patience returns in abundance once this child is on the outside, because I’m going to need it!

#Microblog Mondays: Means to an End

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For a little while now I have been uncertain how I feel about my career; part of it is due to insecurity and instability with my company, and part of it is that I’m not sure I’m still happy with what I do for a living. I’ve found myself increasingly dissatisfied, especially while we were struggling with infertility treatments. I kept seeing mat leave as my escape (I live in Canada where you can get up to 52 weeks paid leave), but the longer it was taking to get pregnant the longer my future with my company was. I’m fairly certain the negative pull that infertility was having on my life was affecting how I felt about work, so while I was perhaps slightly dissatisfied, the lack of control in the rest of my life heightened that feeling.

Now that I’m so close to being finished work (my last day is Aug. 14) I feel checked out, because I know my time here is limited. While mat leave is as an escape from work now, what do I do about my career afterward? I’m hoping things will have changed for J at his job and it may affect our decisions but for now I’m not sure I can see myself coming back to the same job. I need to work, we can’t afford for me to be a SAHM once my one year mat leave runs out but when I go back to work it will likely be for the long haul, so I don’t want to get stuck in something I don’t like.

I have thought about going back to school for something, but I don’t know what. Plus I did spend time and money to go to school for my current job and I don’t really want to throw that all away. My training is pretty specific to my industry, and even my particular job, so although it has many transferable skills, it would be difficult to completely change careers without further training. Said training that would take time and cost money. I’ve considered that I could do distance learning while on mat. leave but realistically, I don’t see that happening. My thought is to see what plays out with J’s job situation (possibly transferring locations, within our same city) and perhaps make a visit to a employment placement agency closer to when I am looking at coming back to work. I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself but my career plans weigh on me.

What’s a girl to do in a career crisis?

IVF-iversary

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This day last year, we began the stop-start journey of our IVF cycle. It was CD3 and I had gone in for my first monitoring appointment in preparation to start my stims. My estrogen levels were initially deemed too high to start and they told me to call back on my next CD1, until the nurse spoke to my doctor and he ok’d it with a slight delay on starting my stimming meds. It was all a bit of a gong show, and that’s how it felt for the rest of the stimming process. I had two runaway follicles that got way too big and threatened to derail the whole cycle. My estrogen levels topped out over 20,000IU forcing us into a freeze-all cycle. I was mostly ok with this at the time, because I felt physically and mentally exhausted with all of the stress on my body and the meds jacking up my ovaries. I would have preferred not to be delayed any further but wanted the best possible chance for our embryos.

Little did I know that delay was going to stretch another 6 months. After waiting for my 2nd period after the retrieval, some ill-timed travels, a cancelled FET, a new protocol, an extra long (almost cancelled), drawn out FET cycle (including having two cysts drained) we finally transferred one of our five embryos to my uterus on Dec. 13. On Dec. 20 I got my first faint positive pregnancy test, and on Dec. 22 a positive beta confirming that pale pink line.

After a little over three years to date we have nearly reached the next stage in our journey. A year of trying naturally, a year filled with testing, waiting, interspersed with 3 failed medicated (unmonitored) IUIs and finally a decision to pursue IVF, we then spent the next six months in IVF/FET limbo hell, finally receiving our desired outcome. But once the test is positive it is a new game, worrying about the next beta, the next ultrasound, viability and ultimately a fresh baby in your arms.

When you’re living it, it is so awful, and you can’t believe it each time the seriousness level ratchets up; trying naturally to seeking assistance which turns into IUI, then IVF, potentially multiple transfers or multiple rounds and for some, beyond that. It seems never ending. I will admit that getting (and staying) pregnant has eased some of the immediate pain but it can’t undo the scars that infertility has left. I was “lucky” in that I only had to endure one round of IVF and one transfer (it’s sad that I’d consider myself “lucky” but there are many who have been through much more and much worse). I can also say that pregnancy is no bed of roses, though I have had it relatively easy for the most part. I can’t say it is really enjoyable being pregnant, I do not love feeling like a whale, and all of the physical discomforts that come along with it (though feeling a living person inside of me, and knowing that they are growing and thriving because of me is pretty powerful stuff).

But (huge emphasis on the “but”) I am deeply grateful, because I know I am one of the lucky ones. Even though we went through hell and back, it’s all been worth it. While we were in it, I wasn’t sure we’d survive, if it would work, if would I have regrets. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t know what lies ahead. And I can’t say that ART is going to work for everyone, or what the best stopping point is. My biggest measure of whether or not to keep going was “will I regret it if I don’t?”. Because initially (when we first started seeing our RE) I was against pursuing IVF, but as we began to run out of options I knew I would regret it if we didn’t give it a shot, no matter how scared, or mad or frustrated I was at our situation.

So I’m not going to tell you to never stop trying, because eventually you may get to a point where you have to, for your sanity, and physical well-being. I don’t know what that point would have been for us, as we, fortunately, never had to consider it (not too much at least, beyond deciding to pursue IVF). Take the path of least regret, therapy and time can help you deal with the aftermath, whatever it may be.

Looking back, year over year, it is amazing where we’ve been, and now, where we’re going.