This complicated thing called life.

Apologies. I’ve been AWOL for a few weeks now. It has been an … ummmmmmmmm … interesting few weeks. Are you prepared for a lengthy post? Things have been positive, I guess, in that I think I’ve figured a few things out and the world makes a little more sense. Perhaps. Bad in that a) life continues to be complicated, and b) I got my period. Again. Everyone has their cross to bear, huh?

A few weeks ago, it became clear to me that anxiety has been a part of my life for quite some time. I have some degree of self-awareness, so it has been obvious that since a big change in our lives a few years ago I have struggled to feel a sense of internal calm. At times I have recognised that there have been anxious episodes, but in a moment of revelation two weeks ago in the midst of an anxiety related-tight chested-out of control panic, I knew I needed to do something. I knew that anxiety had been hiding in a small, dark corner of my brain. And, I knew where it had all begun.

The birth of Little One was anticipated with much excitement but didn’t go swimmingly. The important thing was that we had a healthy baby at the end of it and so I left hospital planning to dust myself off, heal and enjoy my child. But after having trouble feeding, sobbing my way through the day 3 baby blues and getting approximately one second sleep in about 5 days, I hit a brick wall early on. I hate saying these words for fear of being punished (oh, the irony of suffering with secondary infertility!), but those very early days had little enjoyment. In the following weeks, we sorted the feeding, found a rhythm and got some rest. I felt more level and more myself. I was enjoying being a mother. For the most part anyway. I remained anxious about my Little One at night time, when I was asleep too, and wasn’t in total control of protecting her. I felt anxious if she became unwell, when I wasn’t in control of what was happening to her, even though she has only ever had minor illnesses. I felt anxious about handing her to other people, when I wasn’t there for her and in control of her safety. But, I managed this anxiety. I never let it stop us doing anything or going anywhere, even though it pushed my comfort zones occasionally. Slowly it became easier as we got through all the firsts. The first cold, the first vomiting episode, the first night away from her, the first day at day care. I became the parent I always planned on being. The parent I really am without the anxiety.

Since ‘The Big Change’ several years ago, I think anxiety has been building back up. I’ve obviously had other things to deal with, including this whole baby making episode, and I thought they were at the root of my internal turmoil and it was just a case of getting pregnant and feeling settled. Getting out of this limbo. However, this revelation a few weeks ago made me see that these other issues are making me feel out of control and that, in turn, causes me anxiety. The anxiety presents itself ridiculously. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the things we had done that day and what could have gone wrong. What COULD have gone wrong! It is generally always parenting related. It is about keeping Little One safe, making good decisions for her or just generally doing things that are not part of her usual routine. It’s about how I love her so much, it is physically hurting me. My heart is literally bursting with love and a need to do right by her. And so, I completed the picture … I am trying to get pregnant with my second child, whilst being frozen with fear because of what it means to be a parent to the one I have. Believe me, this fact was not lost on me. Is this causing, in part or in full, my unexplained infertility? It certainly can’t be helping, right?

Fear not, I’m working on it. I’ve made an appointment to talk to someone, because essentially I am not an over protective, helicopter parent. I have a parenting philosophy that don’t marry with these anxieties I am feeling of late. I need to calm this shit down. I need to be able to give this most beautiful child I of mine wings to fly, and allow in with a fearless heart, the child who is yet to come to us. Having children is to open something inside you that is so full of the most wonderful, yet painful type of love. It’s about loving someone that you feel is yours, only to send them out into a world that can seem scary, dangerous and unpredictable. Before Little One was born, I could never have predicted how powerful the feelings I would have for her could be. I knew I would love her, but I wasn’t prepared for the need to manage the fear and the pain that comes with cherishing her wonderful little soul. She is everything to me. Everything. Managing the anxiety is not only necessary to enjoy watching Little One grow but also, I think, crucial in helping us give her a sibling and us another child. Giving her a sibling will probably help me feel a little less anxious about the future that awaits her, but I will have to watch out for that pesky post-natal anxiety second time around.

In other news, I saw my OB/GYN and asked for a referral to a specialist. 4 Clomid cycles down and nothing I told him. I’m done with where we are at, and need to move this on. I’ve got a referral to a lovely looking lady. She looks kind anyway on her photo on the internet. Miss Acupuncture recommended her, and I’ve read some good things about her online. I’ve been dreading saying goodbye to our natural fertility due to some misguided sense of failure, shame and maybe even embarrassment. But I actually felt good leaving that appointment. I felt lighter. It definitely feels like a positive step forward. Whilst I update you on this, let me tell you about some random progesterone levels. I asked my OB/GYN what my levels were from the blood work he did during my first two Clomid cycles (I knew they were positive for ovulation but not the actual stats). Well, he explained that pre- Clomid my luteal phase progesterone was around 13. With Clomid it went first to 83, and then in the second month to 153! What the …? What does this mean? Does this say something about my pre Clomid levels?! How can they be so different but both be in ‘normal’ range?! He even had written ‘pregnant’ with a question mark written next to the second result as it was so high! Hahhahhahhahhahah. Hah. Hah. If I wasn’t so fed up of the whole caboodle it would have been mildly amusing. Anyway, I came away with a green light to do another Clomid cycle whilst waiting for the specialist appointment. If nothing else, he said, it is giving you an extremely solid luteal phase. Roll on seeing this lady, and getting some magic happening …

Now I have finished unloading a heavy post, I also wanted to send out the biggest thank you to spiritbabycomehome who nominated me for an inspirational blogger award. I am still mighty honoured (even though it was a few weeks ago) to have been nominated by such a lovely, courageous lady and wonderful blogger. It might not come as a surprise that I haven’t had the headspace to do my part in this nomination in the last couple of weeks, but let it be known that it made me all warm and fuzzy and I will put some of my emotional baggage aside and post recognition out there for the infertility bloggers that give me hope and encouragement to ride this storm out.

Crystal ball

Oh, if only I had a crystal ball! Can somebody give me a freakin’ sign that clearly tells me what it will take to make this happen?

If you didn’t already guess, I have no happy announcement to make. Again. Cue entrance of cycle number 23. Yawn. This is getting boring. Waiting. Excitement. Anticipation. Tension. Disappointment. Sadness. Anger. Hope. Wondering. Fear. Belief. Emptiness. All the things I feel in the space of about 4 weeks. Some might say, well when you’re feeling something at least you know you are living. But I have lived this for 2 years (well actually a little more due to my longer than average cycles). Do I even know how to feel content after living this emotional rollercoaster for so long now? I don’t know. I hope so.

I desperately want everything to feel right in my world again and have worked so hard to make that my reality whatever happens to the size of our family. A lot of the time I feel very level, and I can see and feel that everything is good. But with each month that passes without a positive pregnancy test, I realise how fragile happiness is. I realise that with one thing that happens to every girl of a certain age, every month, my world can seem unstable and my future a little bit scary. For me, there is no option other than to jump back up, dust myself off and make things stable again. I just wish I knew how long I had to do this for. So I could prepare. Or not constantly worry about if it will happen at all.

For the last few months, I have been especially positive. I’ve been visualising, and finding it easy to do so. I’ve believed that our second child is coming and coming now. I feel teased today. My body feels great, energetic; I’m eating well; my cycles feel good with a little help from clomid and Vitamin B6; my mind feels alert and bright and positive. I thought our time was now.

I need to know what it will take. I’m about to pick up the phone and make an appointment to move our attempts on to more serious waters. Do I need to do that? Or do I just need one more cycle doing what I’m doing? Do I need to be a little more patient? Am I wasting precious time being too patient? Time is ticking. I’m getting older. My Little One is getting to be not so little. Are we looking for answers in the wrong places? What will it take to make this second child?

What do I need to do?!

Wobble

Another pregnancy announcement from a friend arrived in my text message inbox today. The 3rd in as many months, in addition to the couple of births in that time too.

What were my thoughts and feelings at the moment I read that message? My feeling was a heavy thud in my chest and my thought was, “When will it be me?” When will I get my turn to be the pregnant person rather than be the one watching everyone I know (seemingly) grow bumps, glow and be happy smiley people?

Yep, that’s right, the positive thinking disappeared. Briefly anyway. My heart still feels a little heavy, for us. My impatience is just settling back down to manageable levels. So I sent a message back, all cheery and like ‘yay! So happy for you! Don’t feel sorry for me because you got there and I haven’t, I’m good, really.’ I didn’t say that really, but that’s what I thought. Because I really have been good. I kinda wish she had waited another week to tell me, so that I would either be able to relax in to the congratulations knowing I was in the club too, or when I would just be able to wallow in the hell of a period and hearing an announcement. You know, deal with everything at once when things can’t seem much worse. But the world doesn’t revolve around me, my cycle day and my potentially empty uterus (5 dpo, so you never know). Unfortunately. Anyway, I just gave the usual response in these situations, ‘Congrats! When ya due? You must be ecstatic! So excited for you! Can’t wait to meet him or her already! Big love and hugs. XX’

I’m happy for them and all, blah, blah, blah, blah. Blah. She is the sweetest girl and doesn’t deserve to pick up a bitter vibe from me in the midst of her happy haze. Hence why I even plastered a fake smile on my face as I typed the congratulatory message full of exclamation marks, like she would sense I was dancing around my living room with joy and feel more at ease! Hah! Insane! But really, what is the point in being bitter and upset. Who does it help? What does it gain me? I may as well put out what I want people to see, and what I want to believe. I want people to say, ‘Wow, that girl was suffering but was always graceful in the face of it.’

So it is back to positivity for me . Wobble over. It is my time. It is my time. It is my time. It is my time …

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