Why assume it’s me? Miracles do happen.

Have you noticed that I talk a lot about me? This blog is about my feelings. My thoughts. I don’t talk much about ‘we’, or ‘he’. He being the hubster. He is the most amazing man by the way. He sees the world in black and white, and is misunderstood by others sometimes but that is because he is pretty deep, and very thoughtful and spends a lot of time wandering around inside that beautiful head of his. He is also the most loyal, clever and balanced person and his opinion and thoughts on anything are extremely important to me. If he says our world is OK, I instantly feel lighter and safer. We are definitely ‘we’. We are open (not in a sharing each other kinda way, just to clear), and support and love each other. Big time. Compromise and understanding are key features of our relationship. It also helps that I find him a proper hottie.

During this infertility journey we have travelled a bit more separately than we would have liked at times. Thankfully, those times haven’t lasted too long usually ended up with a meltdown from yours truly, followed by cuddles and reassurance. Still, it has been testing. Infertility is tough on the relationship of any mother and father in waiting.

There have been times where I have felt alone in the first few days of a cycle. That heartbreak and disappointment are mine only. I have always known this isn’t true, but when in the hormonal dark cloud, I get these feelings, isolating myself. We experience those times very differently, and although I think he moves on quicker to look towards the next month, I know he hurts each month as we learn we won’t be seeing our future child on a scan monitor.

Hubster is also a believer. He believes we will hold that second baby at some point, and is more than happy to take whatever steps we need to, whenever I am ready. I’m far more emotional about this baby, and experience the belief too but also the angry, feet stamping moments when I don’t get my own way! This has no reflection on how much either of us want this child. We just deal with it differently.

The age gap isn’t so much an issue for him as it is for me either. He is more accepting of the fact there will be a large gap, and doesn’t feel bitter about our forced wait. Unlike me. As long as we get there he says. As long as we get there …

For two years we have focused on my wellbeing, body and emotional. For two years we have tracked my cycles, searching for an answer for the monthly disappointment. For two years we have paid thousands of dollars for me to see Miss Acupuncture so she can balance and enhance my reproductive system. For two years this amazing man has taken my tears and wiped them away, listened to my torment even though it kills him inside that he can’t make it go away and been the constant balanced and logical one in our house. I don’t thank him enough.

However, despite all of that, we have never shined the spotlight on him. Selfishly I have been all ‘why me?’ Hell, I should be saying why us? How are you feeling about this today honey? Does your body feel in balance? Do you think we need to enhance your swimmers? I’m not looking to point the finger here. But making a baby is a 50/50 thing. We both need to of optimum health.

Now, I know I write all about my feelings around this subject, rather than the numbers of test results, but here comes the science part. Well, sort of … Apparently, 80% of Unexplained Infertility cases are due to High Sperm DNA damage. So I read the other day. What the …? What is this? What causes it, and is hubster in a risk category for this? Why haven’t we come across this before? He had a sperm analysis and all looked hunky dory. Well acceptable at least, but this damage is something that isn’t tested on a normal analysis, so even when a SA looks good there can still be a problem. If it is true that 80% of Unexplained IF is down to this specific issue, why isn’t this something we have been guided to getting tested for as nothing else has come up as an explanation? If I’m honest, I think our situation will be something in the other 20% as I have had issues with spotting and long cycles. Maybe I’m clutching at straws to get an answer but maybe it is still worth doing the extra test to rule DNA damage out anyway?

I also read that most unexplained cases of infertility result in a pregnancy eventually. Eventually. Yep, well, that doesn’t feel like much of a guarantee when I am rapidly approaching the edge of dreaded mid 30’s fertility cliff. This same article I read said 6 to 7 years can be the time frame for most Unexplained IF couples to achieve a pregnancy. It’s good to know most of us can get pregnant, but for goodness sake, another 5 years of this. Cue stomping feet! I think I will stick with our plan to move this thing along a bit quicker.

I am still all over the positive thinking and believing as I creep towards the end of the first week of the TWW.

Case Study 1: I know a lady who had unprotected sex for 9 years before she fell pregnant. No intervention. Had a lovely, healthy, beautiful baby. Continued having unprotected sex after the baby was born too, but never fell pregnant again. Not a great story for me, wanting to get pregnant for a second time, but the point is miracles do happen. Let’s focus on that! Note to self: Think about contacting this person to find out how she was able to let fate decide the size of her family.

Case Study 2: Some good, good friends of ours had unprotected sex for 8 years. One miscarriage in that time, no intervention at all and recently, one beautiful baby. Again, miracles do happen.

Bodies are amazing things, and just because I am two years into a journey where each month has ended in disappointment, doesn’t mean next month will. Miracles do happen.

Daring to dream

I haven’t been here for a week or so. It’s been a little busy, but also I just let go. It has been quite novel. I have felt lighter, like a weight has been lifted, and mentally I just feel … I don’t know; maybe less claustrophobic. I’m not sure whether this is down to strong mental strength, or if I just don’t have the energy to harbour all the negative feelings anymore. Have you noticed how draining it is to feel and think negatively? It is so heavy.

My husband and Little One have been at the forefront of my mind lately. This is what is important. That’s not to say extending our family isn’t. Hell, it is desperately important to me. But the hubster and Little One, well, they are here. Right now. With me. Loving me. Needing me. Isn’t this what I want? I always wanted to be a mother. I have a ridiculous maternal streak. I always wanted to be a family. I have that. Infertility has taken my focus away from what I asked for, and what I was given. And oh, how in love with them I am.

In my last post, I talked about focusing on the positives and what our lives will look like (at some point) in the future. I could write a long list about the positives of my life right now. Des.Per.Ate.Ly. Trying. Not. To. Put. In. A. Caveat… And for the future, I can see me holding a newborn, with my husband and my (not so little) daughter smiling down at the baby. I see my daughter helping me feed and change this new little one. I can sense the love between them. I see two car seats in the back seat. I see a newly decorated nursery. I hear giggles as my daughter tickles and coos over her sibling. I feel warm and fuzzy about watching my husband carry this baby, confident and strong and comforting. I feel the joy of soaking up that newborn smell, of being the only person who can stop this baby crying. For the first time in years, I can feel this will happen. I can almost touch the image again it feels so possible. I’m not afraid to dream anymore. The disappointment hurts whether you dare to dream or not.

I’m not naïve. I know that for all the believing in the world, the facts remain that we have not got pregnant in two years of trying. Well timed trying. And statistically, the longer time goes on the odds are against us. If the universe doesn’t answer my call, well … let’s not think about that too much right now. But let’s just say this: I will always have loved the second little person in our lives, whether they make their journey to us or not. Whether through dreaming of them or through the reality of holding them close. When I look back on my life in my final moments one day, I will be able to say no regrets. I tried. I gave it everything. And I wanted and loved with all my heart.

So, the decision is that we will do IVF. I’m not sure when exactly, as I think I want to give clomid another shot or two, so timing is still flexible and I’m yet to talk to my Dr about this. Yes, I wanted to get pregnant naturally, but ultimately, we want a baby. I think this a huge step forward for me to get to this point, and it feels good to have given myself another option for making this happen. We want to be complete. We want the dream.

 

The Law of Attraction

It will be ...

It will be …

I read an affirmation card today at my Acupuncture appointment. It said something that spoke loudly to me … ‘Pushing too hard for something only pushes it further away. Ask for it and then let go.’

Considering the conversation I had just had with Miss Acupuncture, I felt like I was getting a clear message about what I need to do.

Let go. Want something, but let it come to you. Maybe it’s a bit like being that desperate teen girl, who has a major crush on some poor lad, and chases it so hard that she actually sends the boy running in the opposite direction. Come on, we have all done it! Perhaps my infertility is one of those situations where letting emotions get the better of me stops me beating it. Like quick sand, I’ve been fighting with frustration and only sinking.

If you have read my last few posts, you will know that I’m working on accepting our situation, creating a plan and opening my mind to different paths on our quest to complete this journey somehow. I had a fantastic cycle last month that didn’t result in a pregnancy, but did result in the birth of a new me I suppose you could say. The last few days though, I have felt a bit defeated. I was feeling like I was accepting our situation, which is good, but that I was just getting negative thoughts about not seeing the future I wanted. I was kinda giving in to the infertility, rather than accepting and opening the gates to new places. I guess I’m a bit stuck at the opening my mind stage.

Miss Acupuncture told me I have a strong mind. Not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I think she is right. I have always been stoic, but in touch with my emotions. I have always been able to deal with stressful situations calmly and logically. I have always been good at coaching myself through difficulties. My inner voice was always firm but kind; wise and helpful. I realise now that 2 years ago this changed. We went through something very stressful (which I don’t write about here, and I apologise if this makes it difficult for you to understand my story completely, but it opens up a whole other can of worms), and I think this somehow altered the way my mind works. I’m only realising now, that perhaps my inner voice, which has always been my guide, turned on me. Miss Acupuncture reckons it would be a massive help to turn my powerful mind back around to help me once again.

The Law of Attraction is a theory that basically says your thoughts become realities. Positive thinking brings positive things to your life, and negative thinking brings negative things to your life. So essentially, desperately wanting this baby but focusing on the emptiness, the worry of how this effects Little One, the fear of a forever empty womb and the panic of passing time means that I am attracting emptiness, negative effects on Little One, an empty womb and encouraging even more time to pass. I like this theory. It’s simple. It means I can do something positive to help us. I just need to re-train myself to think a different way. I need to want a baby but not let frustration, tears and anger control my thoughts. I need to enjoy the now. I need to look forward to a bump and an extended family. I need to let future possibilities, not future failures, take my mind wandering.

I remember when we going to start trying for Little One, I was concerned about my long cycles and what that might been fertility wise. I knew I was ovulating, due to charting and OPKs but I was a little worried that something was wrong. We tried for a couple of months, a possible failed implantation (spotting at 7DPO) but no pregnancy. And do you know what my inner voice said to me then. It said this: “We will have a baby. We will give it a year and if we aren’t pregnant by then, we will see someone and they will get us pregnant.” I replied with a relaxed exhale of air, imagined myself with a baby (at some point, no time restraints) and enjoyed trying to make a baby at the right times. I was too OCD to give up charting. The point is, I asked, I believed and we took the opportunity the next month. And then, ta da, pregnant.

I need to ask for another baby. I need to believe I will have another baby. I need to take the opportunities that come our way.

Stage 4: Project our future reality through thoughts and visualisations.

Making plans, albeit temporary

So, Clomid round 2 was unsuccessful. We were disappointed as it was another Clomid round with B6 to support progesterone (only 2 days spotting before my period arrived), acupuncture, a lot of baby making sex in the fertile time, and I was really relaxed all cycle. Timing was perfect. If I can get pregnant naturally surely this month should have been the one? My emotional state was a big positive to take from this cycle. I felt really level during the whole two week wait. I think this is because I was feeling accepting of our situation. Getting pregnant is not something I am good at. Feeling in control emotionally makes the weight of infertility a little bit easier to carry. It’s not lighter. I’m just stronger.

So, cycle day 1 arrived and I asked Hubby, “Where do we go next?’ We talked about how I wonder what it will take to change the outcome each month. Hubby is able to see the glass half full, and his reasoning goes along the lines of, “Our tests have come back fine, we just need to get the month where everything just slots in place.” I guess I see the glass half empty or maybe I think more deeply or realistically about it all, because I see 21 failed cycles and can’t see why things would suddenly just work. We have tried numerous things hoping they would give us that extra percent in our chances of conception: honey, vitamins, acupuncture and herbs, diet changes, holidays for relaxation, exercise regime changes and lastly Clomid. I think that one disappoints me the most. I thought that would be THE thing.

After Clomid, the next step is to escalate things and see a fertility specialist. I’m not against this. There are pros, I know. We might find out what the ‘unexplained’ issue actually is, we might actually get some interest from that Dr and most importantly, we might get our complete family. But I’m afraid and melancholy too. As I’ve warbled on about in the last few posts, I am accepting. I really am. But accepting this is what we need to do is also upsetting. Hanging up my natural fertility and asking for help makes me feel sad, and I know it’s OK and that I’m not a failure but I’m still sad to see it go. I’m also afraid because we will take a step closer to the end. It will be so strange to put this era behind us in some ways. Infertility is familiar. I want to be finished with trying to conceive, but putting the lid on that without a baby is a lot scary. If we go on and try maybe IVF and it doesn’t work, well, I will be devastated. It will feel like the end of the road for having our second own biological child, and so I’m afraid to move on to IVF soon because there is nowhere else to go after that. That will be all our ammunition used up. Obviously if it works for us – AMAZING! It’s one of those jumps in life you take that will give you all or nothing. I think I will need to get my headspace to the place where I can jump with total faith.

The other weird thing, is that if we finally get pregnant, we will definitely be done and that will be a peculiar place to be after years of wanting children. I couldn’t ‘want’ to try again and then fail over and over and go through the pain, the hope/disappointment rollercoaster and the distraction. I couldn’t do this again. I guess even though we are living with the uncertainty of what our future family will look like, I must feel that someone is coming, that we are waiting to greet them and that there is another dimension to add. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on from here yet? If this is true, it is subconscious that’s for sure.

For the time being (this may change; as we all know, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind) we have decided to do another 2 months on Clomid, which will take us pretty much up to 24 months TTC. By that point I think if we are going to do it naturally we would have done, and we will know the Clomid alone isn’t addressing our ‘unexplained’ issues. At that point I think that we will need to seek further intervention, or a second opinion or some new advice at the very least. This is the plan. For now.

Stage 1: Accept

Stage 2: Open the mind

Stage 3: Make a plan

Dear Lost Fertility …

Oh, how I grieve for you. I spent a lot of time in denial. I was isolated. I spent a lot of time feeling angry. I was angry at you for leaving, and angry at my friends who frolicked in the knowledge their fertility was still with them. I spent a lot of time feeling sad. I was sad I couldn’t be where I wanted to be in my life plan. I am working on accepting. Not everybody who is grieving reaches acceptance. I hope I can. I want to reach a place where I can be thankful for the time we had.

 

There are two things I am grieving. It only occurred to me recently, and I can’t believe it has taken this long to realise that the grief of infertility is two-fold. I grieve for the child we have yet to conceive, and the possible ones that never managed to hold on to even be validated with a pregnancy test. I have known this throughout the journey, but what suddenly became clear to me, is that I grieve for my lost fertility.

I have found it difficult to accept that we are not fertile or not very fertile anyway. I’m starting out on the road to recovering from that, hence my last post titled ‘Accepting’. I found it humiliating to go from someone in the fertile gang, to being cast out in the dark. Alone. Infertile. Slowly, but surely, as my eyes adjust to the dark and I accept where I am, I see you. I see that I am not alone.

With lost fertility, comes a feeling of failure. That something has left me before I’m ready to be done with it. Stupid me. Did I let it go? If feels typical that I have to endure this. The story of life seems to be a series of almosts. Nearly theres. If I’d just tried a bit harders. The reality is my life story is one of success. Sure, I could have got further with certain things at certain times, but this is a criticism that only I make. I know I do pretty well. But my lost fertility is my biggest almost. My biggest nearly there. My loudest “If I just try a bit harder.” Jeez, I’m really not good with feeling a sense of failure!

My family is almost complete. One more child, and I will happily hand over my fertility. I feel greedy. I feel like I’m pushing my luck asking for more, so I put in this aside: after this one, I won’t ask for anymore, I promise! I feel like we have had so many ‘nearly there’ pregnancies, only to start spotting heavily and then get my period. I have asked myself 21 times to try a little bit harder, but never tried hard enough (the proof is in the pudding as they say, and there has been no pudding).

I assumed I would have another child. I assumed it would be easy. Much time has been focused on this image I once believed to be concrete. Set in stone. That image involved me pregnant, naturally, with an average sibling age gap. I need to let this image go, and replace it with something more fluid. I need to be open to other possibilities. Whether we use it or not, I need to open my mind to the fact we may need help to become pregnant naturally, and that is OK. Not creating life the traditional way has no impact on us as parents. I need to open my mind to a sibling age gap of any length, and that too, is OK. I need to open my mind to the fact we may never overcome this whatever assistance we take, and that having another biological child is not going to happen. Ouch! I can feel a little tear pricking my left eye, and the burning in my throat. I’m not OK with that yet. But this is stage two.

Stage 1: Accept

Stage 2: Open your mind to different life paths.

Accepting

This Clomid cycle has been much improved. Maybe my body is coping with it better, or maybe the B6 is helping, but either way it has been welcome relief after Clomid cycle 1. Skin is pretty much clear again now, and it’s nice to be rid of the teenage look and not have to cake heaps of concealer on each morning. With a week to go until D day, there are no major PMT signs. This time last month I was already starting to cramp, and tears were almost on the hour. Emotionally, I feel so normal. Feeling normal shouldn’t even be something I have to make note of, and feel grateful for. It should be just that, the norm. Anyway, the point is, I’ve been feeling pretty good. Not irritable, or any anger towards the universe. I feel light, and the most accepting I have felt of our situation for a while.

The infertility battle can define you if you let it. I can become all consumed, overwhelmed and it can infiltrate my life at almost every level. I’ve talked about it to my husband at every chance, only for him to become despairing; holding his hands up, asking what I want him to say or do. I’ve unloaded onto my closest friends whenever I could. I’ve thought about it constantly, and I mean constantly, for days at a time. And I’ve let the humiliation, questions, hurt and sadness eat away at me, leaving me feeling bitter or teary.

Right now (and I say right now, because I know these attitudes can fluctuate), I’m tired of battling. I’m tired of feeling like I’m clinging on by my fingernails. I’m tired of feeling desperate. I’m tired of feeling like I’m running, looking over my shoulder because the dark shadow of infertility is haunting me; out to catch me; claws at my back attempting to have me entirely in its clutches.

I’m tired of trying to find reasons for why this is happening to us. I’m tired of feeling like I have to justify myself to others: we aren’t really and truly infertile; everything works, really; I’m just like you, it’s just taking a long time.

I’m tired of this journey defining us. I’m not just the girl who couldn’t have a second child. I’m not just the girl who couldn’t move on. I’m not just the girl who let infertility destroy her. I’m a Mum. And a frickin’ good one. I’m a wife. And a frickin’ awesome one. I’m a friend. And a frickin’ fabulous one.

I’m in no way saying that I’ve lost hope. Not at all. I actually find it pretty difficult to give up hope (I tried once to see if it would help, it didn’t because I had nowhere else to go but down). I’m just saying I don’t want anger, bitterness and sadness to be the first thing people see. I’m saying I don’t want my daughter witnessing the horror of an incomplete Mumma. I’m saying I want to have fun and laughter every day. I’m saying I want a relationship with my husband focused on love, enjoyment of each other’s company and not on shared grief (though we will have this sometimes). I’m saying I want to live in the now, and look forward to the future.

I don’t know what the next week has in store for us. I’m staying positive it’s something good. But if it’s not… Well, let’s just accept that it’s not. I think I’m getting to the point where I turn around and face my infertility shadow head on. I’m close to sticking two fingers up to it, and shouting, “Come on then if you think you’re stronger!” I want the power back. I am stronger. I want to choose to accept what is happening, but not give in. I also choose to calmly and serenely do whatever I can and whatever it is I have to do to make this reach a conclusion.

Stage 1: Accept.