To talk or not to talk? That is the question.

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I read another infertility blog yesterday, and a few of the points raised really struck a chord with me. The blogger told her readers not to ask people IF they will have children, WHEN they will have children and most poignantly for me, not to ask someone who already has a child when they will have another. Boy, I have had plenty of people ask me!

Those struggling with infertility are hurting, and hurting badly. Being asked about becoming pregnant is high up on the emotional pain meter. It is absolutely one of those experiences that cannot be fully understood by those who have never experienced it, and even then we probably don’t really understand it! I don’t mean to patronise those who are fertile, but it is true. I know because I have been on both sides of the coin. My first TTC experience was easy. I don’t want to get into a Primary infertility v Secondary infertility debate right now, as we are all in our own battles with infertility, but these last 2 years have shown me how truly awful it is to want to have a baby and it not happen.

 Our little one is at the age where people are now asking if we are going to have ‘anymore’. Anymore? Really? The phrasing of the question bothers me, because it makes it sound so bloody simple. It sounds like a judgement, that I should have more, and makes me feel isolated because I can’t provide a sibling. It makes it sound like I can just click my fingers and nonchalantly decide the universe will grant me another child. Like it is my choice and under my control. Sure, I can decide I would like another child and try to make it happen Au natural, but after that NOTHING is under my control. Not the timing, not the difficulty of the journey and not the measures we have to take to get our miracle baby. NOTHING. 

Asking about a fertility journey is brave when you think about … and yet, people ask. Perhaps us having our little one leads to an assumption that we have chosen to be a family of 3. But even if there is a suspicion of a problem, they have no idea what emotional state we are in … and yet, they ask. Are they wrong or right to do so? Is it something so normal and natural that we should be allowed to ask women of child bearing age about their plans to reproduce? Or is something very personal, between husband and wife, a topic not up for discussion? Sometimes I want to talk about it in great depth. I want people to give me hope (because I don’t know if you have found this, but the more people you talk to the more you find out that so many of us have a journey to pregnancy that isn’t smooth). I want to get this pain out of my chest so I can relax. I don’t want to be alone in my head with my sad thoughts. When I have talked about it though, I am left feeling exposed and I still feel isolated and alone anyway. And then at other times it is not up for discussion. I do not want to be reminded that we don’t have another baby. I don’t want to be reminded that my body is failing me for no apparent reason. I don’t want to say the words and put it out there for people to talk about. I don’t want sympathy. I know, confusing. My poor husband. My poor friends. I can be a royal pain in the derrière.

I think some people are just nosy. You know the acquaintances that don’t really care about you. The ones who are just looking for some gossip. Just want to be in the know. The ones who leave you feeling vulnerable if you have opened up and let them into your journey. In some ways I wonder if it would have been better to be subfertile or infertile in the UK circa 1920. I’m pretty sure the stiff British upper lip and social codes of that time would have meant no one would have asked about one’s fertility status. And anyway, infertility wasn’t such a problem then as it is now, so maybe I wouldn’t even have been infertile. But yet, here I am, blogging my heart out about our trials and tribulations. So perhaps this era is a great era for the infertile. A time where technology and medicine (Western and Complimentary) can combine to help many who can’t conceive naturally. A time where the internet is a place where people can anonymously seek support from those who understand, and blurt out their inner most thoughts and feelings without judgement, smug sympathy or well-intentioned but unhelpful and downright annoying advice.

Do you know where I am at with the whole should people ask others about their child bearing plans? Here goes …

Human nature means you are curious, so go on and ask me. I know you want to. But don’t expect a fluffy heart to heart with me. I may glare at you which pretty much gives you all the information you need. Back away. If you’re lucky, I will give you a little routine I have practiced in the mirror a million times for such an occasion. It goes like this: Tilt head to the side, give the shoulders a slight shrug and say with controlled voice, “Well you know, we would like to have more, but things haven’t gone to plan.” It’s another, more polite way of saying, you can know we haven’t been able to have another child but this topic is not up for further discussion.

I will choose who I talk to about this, when I want to talk about it, in the detail I want to talk in (DISCLAIMER: This does not apply to hubby or the couple of close girlfriends to whom different rules apply. Another blog). There will be very few people who get to know the details. I need to feel security, trust, understanding and an ability to be myself in a relationship if I am to talk to someone. Even my Mum doesn’t know the details, not because we don’t have those things, but because my hurt is her hurt, and I want to protect her from that.  I understand the curiosity to know if we are going to expand our family, but most don’t need to know the inner workings of my mind or uterus. I will save that for you, dear reader. After all, you really are the best listener. Thank you.

 

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TWW – The Worst Weeks …

… of the menstrual cycle.

I’m mid TWW. That’s two week wait for those of you who are not so obsessed with trying to conceive, not really The Worst Weeks. Though they really are a time of torture that not many women survive without some emotional turmoil. For me it’s waiting to see if all that Clomid taking, temperature monitoring, peeing on ovulation sticks has finally been worth the effort. For those of you who know the hell that is this time, I apologise, as I’m sure the sight of those three capital letters made you shudder. It really is the worst time.

 Am I? Aren’t I? Could I be? Oooh, what was that twinge? Ahhh, I think I feel a little nauseous. Wow. I had a really runny nose today, but I’m not sick. That’s random. I wonder … Grrrrrrrr! Don’t come within 1KM of me. I’m extremely irritable and everything and everyone annoys me today. Right, my breasts feel a bit sore. My period must be coming. Bloody brilliant. Oooh, but that could be a sign of pregnancy …

That is pretty much a typical TWW.  Thrown in this time though; my little ones birthday. Time is passing. The potential sibling age gap grows. I think I would be OK with the passing of another birthday if I knew for sure I would get to experience this all again. Please let me experience this again. The three of us had a nice day. Just us. But I feel a pattern coming on. Last birthday, I was emotional. Happy for my little one, and excited for her to open her presents, but I struggled to not snap at times. This year was the same. It’s such a shame to let anything take away from enjoying my little ones day, but it’s tough and I feel it’s a bittersweet day.

So, the clomid did its job. I ovulated, and fairly early (for me) at day 17. Everything looks ok so far temperature wise which, I might add, really fuels the obsession especially in the TWW. I spend two weeks watching my temperature, analysing my chart for any dip that might mean its ovulation day, and then another two weeks praying the darn thing stays up and keeps my uterus a beautifully cosy place to grow a little person.

I think we did pretty well on timing our baby making bedroom action too. So what can we do now, but cross our fingers and hope that next week brings us longed for news? You gotta keep your hope right?

 

Crazy on Clomid

Woah! Well, that was a crazy few days.  Thankfully I feel my normal self again now (which, thanks to this journey, some might describe as a bit irrational at times anyway), but for a day or two there I seriously felt on the edge. So much for the Zen like state I talked about in my last blog! Here’s how my first Clomid experience went …

I took the first Clomid tablet on Thursday night. It went down quite easily, and I imagined the good work it would do within my body. I had read that there could be some side effects, but didn’t think too much of it as I haven’t ever had a strong adverse reaction to any medication before. That night was not a great night sleep. I ended up getting to sleep really late, and my little one was up ridiculously early. Now, I’m never great without a good night sleep at the best of times, but the next day I was INSANE! No sleep and Clomid did bad things to my emotions. The smallest thing caused me to burst into feelings of rage, impatience or irritation beyond anything I experience during PMT. I cancelled everything we had planned that day, wallowed in my emotions and hid away from the world.

The irony was that this fertility med that I took (combined with a lack of sleep) to try to get me pregnant made me lose all my patience with my little one, and took away all the enjoyment I usually get from our time together. We cozied up for the day (because a duvet day was all I could muster), and my little one, probably wondering what entity had taken over Mum’s body, was gentle and sweet and tried to raise a smile from me. I try so hard to keep the emotional torment of this journey hidden from my little one. It’s ok and healthy to see parents dealing with negative emotions here and there, but sometimes on this journey they are so overwhelming for me; I don’t want her to see where they take me. It’s too dark there.

But on this day after the first Clomid, I could not hide things away. I could not pretend.

They say that having a child fills a space you didn’t even know was empty.  I’m not sure those trying to conceive their first would agree, as I’m sure they feel the empty space acutely, but I understand the what it means . I desperately wanted a child when we got pregnant with our little one ( I didn’t have the pain of waiting for a pregnancy that time), and when she arrived the intensity of the cluster of emotions overwhelmed me in those early weeks. I can’t tell you how amazingly scary it was to feel what I felt, and it took me by surprise that I could feel that deeply despite my readiness to be a mother. Now I know that space is there for a second little miracle to fill.  I know how it feels and like an addiction I want more. Sorry.  I’ve digressed.  Let’s get back to the Clomid experience …

The day after was better. I felt more level, more emotionally stable, but drained. The calm after the storm. My head seemed silent after the rush of thoughts and emotions of the previous day.

The next day I felt better again, and I gradually adapted to the meds and felt more myself. I noticed some fuzzy head type sensations during the evening, in the hours after taking Clomid but apparently it can affect mental alertness, so I think that it is normal.

So here I am, CD14 and waiting for the main event, the reason for taking this crazy Clomid. Nothing. Yet. No sign of ovulation. Yet. I’m starting to get impatient because as I ovulate anyway, I was hoping it would make me ovulate in a more normal length of time and iron out a few irregularities. Oh come on body! My emotions went to hell and back in a day to help you out. Ovulate, damn you!

It’s your Clomid Day!

Two years on this rollercoaster of a journey has brought us to today. Clomid day! Having wept my torrent of tears for last cycle’s end, and endured one of my worst ever periods, I swallow the tiny white tablet with some … excitement? Dare I even feel that emotion? Could this be what we have needed to help us along?

I remember two years ago, almost to the day, beginning the first cycle on which we had decided to try to conceive a second little person. Having had no issues getting pregnant with my first miracle (a few months in the making), we entered that cycle with excitement and no anxiety about our fertility status. I remember the anticipation of the two week wait, analysing every little symptom and believing it could be THE sign. I knew it might not happen that month, but I knew it would happen. It didn’t. Obviously.

Every one of the 19 cycles since that very first, have each stripped away a little bit of positivity. Each month it is harder to keep that light of hope burning. The image of holding another child of our own fades. Now I fight internally with my inner voice to believe it is still our destiny.

The two week wait has become a torturous time, in which I hope but also feel afraid to hope. Where my conscience hears my prayers, and snorts, “Don’t be so stupid as to think this is it”. Where my body seems to smirk cruelly, as it gives my mind a glimmer; enough pregnancy symptoms to hold on to a slither of hope. And when it becomes clear that it was all a trick, I feel so naïve to have believed, even just a little bit.

But this cycle, we are doing something totally new. I’ve done acupuncture (which I will write about another time), I’ve taken supplements and I’ve tried old wives tales. This month I take a step into the realm of fertility meds. And with that comes more hope than I have felt in a long time. I’m still afraid to hope. I’m still afraid my body won’t do what nature intended. The negative side of myself says it will be just my luck to fail to conceive this month too even with Clomid. But I must push those thoughts away. This is a step forward. A “normal” cycle length should happen as opposed to my irregular ovulation days and therefore cycles anywhere between 30-50 days. Predicting fertile days won’t be such a long, tedious wait. Clomid may just help any slight hormonal abnormalities that I believe could be one of the reasons for our “infertility”. Clomid may give me a ‘stronger’ ovulation (whatever that means?).

And so, I will centre myself. I will treat myself kindly. I will take on a Zen like state. I will take my Clomid, and hold on tight again for yet another rollercoaster month. Wish me luck. It’s my Clomid day!

Creating a family. Are we there yet?

Three of us live under our roof. Mum, Dad and daughter. We are a family.

We love each other more than words can say. We have good individual relationships with each other. We have fun together. My husband and I have the same values. We are rarely argue. Our daughter is happy, bright and healthy. We live in a lovely house in a lovely part of the world, by the sea. We have a good income, and can afford some nice things, go on holidays and have a large SUV on the drive. Yes, we are grateful for all we have. What more could we ask for?

Another child please.

I guess we all just want that little bit more. It is human nature. Others may log on to Facebook, see our ‘Facebook life’ and think we have the perfect life. And we kinda do… But we want something more too, and have done for 2 long years. A positive pregnancy test. A bump. A birth moment. A baby. A sibling for our daughter. A family of four. If only it was as easy as saving up some cash for it! My husband is such a good money saver, we could have bought ten babies in the time we have waited and longed for another little bundle.

It is difficult. Very difficult. So very, very difficult.

You see, we are caught in this strange world of Secondary Unexplained Infertility. At this stage we are classed as ‘Subfertile’ (Thanks! Lovely. Don’t I just feel so feminine and womanly now? My uterus shriveled up just hearing the word). Within 12 months of starting to try to conceive, and with no medical reasons found, we hadn’t conceived or carried a child to full term after a natural and normal conception and pregnancy with our first child. Two years since beginning this journey, and still with no medical reasons found, we continue to try to complete this family of ours as naturally as we can.

Frustrating.

We are caught between the world of parenting and the painful emotional rollercoaster of trying to conceive. We have friends that have several children, young babies or bumps and our daughter’s friends all have brothers or sisters. At Playgroup, mums chat about how manic/difficult/crazy/amazing/special life is with a preschooler and a toddler, whilst gently rubbing their large pregnant belly and then ask me if I’m going to have anymore.

Jealous. Hurting.

We are caught between the world of people struggling with Primary Infertility and those who have complete families. I can only imagine the pain of not knowing if you will ever be able to hold your own baby, but I can only dream of how wonderfully content and whole those who have completed their family must feel.

Guiltily sad.

We are a family of 3. We have an empty space. It is silent, and yet it screams so loud. It is invisible to you, but I feel it every day. It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to ignore. And I fear it. Because if I can’t fill it, will it be with me forever?

We have created a family. We are still creating a family. Are we there yet? Nope.