Needles!

Last week we saw the specialist for the first time. I was expecting a pass straight to IVF, as Miss Acupuncture and the Ob/GYN I was seeing before he referred me, both told me that in my unexplained case there wouldn’t be other options laid on the table.

They were wrong. She offered us injectables. It took me by surprise, but I was happy to have another stepping stone rather than leaping right across the pond into IVF. I know this continues to be an issue for me; the idea of IVF scares me, although I am getting there and, honestly, I’m so utterly ready to move on from this trying to conceive journey one way or another that I know the time is imminent. Living in this limbo feels like living half a lifI’m here and going through the motions, but not giving things my full attention or enjoying what I have to the full. And that makes me sad, because I have a lot to enjoy and be happy about.

The appointment was … short. That was a little disappointing. Not getting pregnant is such a big part of the life of the couples that end up in these offices, and we felt a little like just another set of ovaries to get working better! But, this specialist is supposed to be the bomb, so we will give her the benefit of doubt. In a nutshell, the reality is we won’t get onto IVF, even if we said yes today, until the new year and she felt a few injectable cycles was worth a shot (I hope anyway!). Reviewing all our test results, she diagnosed our only issue to be a mild ovulation disorder due to late ovulation, which we already knew. Hubby looks all good to her. So injectables. No IUI. I was rather anxious, bringing these pens and needles home. I was so afraid of pain when sticking that first needle in that I messed the first dose up and pressed the button first as the needle entered the skin. Oooops! I’m happy to report that it really isn’t that painful at all. In fact, I think I prefer it immensely to clomid. I’ve got no side affects at the moment (other than some decent cervical mucous, which can only be a good thing, right??) which is a welcome relief after two of my clomid cycles were a massive rollercoaster of emotions. The specialist also said that this is better as it doesn’t affect the endometrium which can thin with clomid. I also like that there is more monitoring of me through the cycle to better understand what it happening. Only thing with this treatment, I think, is that there feel there is more at stake. We are spending more money on this, and there is a chance of cancelling the cycle if the ultrasound doesn’t show good news on the ovaries.

I’m back later this week for another ultrasound to see if I’m ready to trigger. TMI (as the ttc online forums users say), but I’m a little uncomfortable down there with thrush so am desperately hoping that has passed before the appointment so that a) I don’t have to feel mighty embarrassed and, b) so that we can get trigger happy in the bedroom.

Hit me up with some positive injectable cycle stories! I also need to find the answer to my question: I already ovulate, albeit on approx. 6 week cycles, so how does inducing ovulation improve my chances? No one has been able to explain this to me! Any insight appreciated!

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

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.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Ok. The PMT this month was bad. Really bad. Darn Clomid making me crazy! But as always, I feel better now that the period is several days under way and I have the chance to start afresh. I know I have to kick the frustration, anger and anxiety to the kerb. I know those emotions are more than likely Enemy Number 1, and that controlling those feelings would give me a much better chance of getting pregnant. It is so complicated though. This long wait is one of the biggest contributors to my emotions, but it’s not straightforward. There are other issues that are probably causing my infertility (they are nothing too major but when everything comes at once, it gets complicated, right?) and from my infertility other issues arise. I sound messed up. I’m not. Ok, maybe a little. I need to find a way to see things clearly and manage each issue.

The most ironic thing is that parenting can cause me some anxiety which is probably affecting my fertility. Now let me tell you this. I LOVE being a parent to my little one. She has been the most rewarding and amazingly beautiful thing in my life. I never knew I could love someone like I love her. I have immense love for my husband, but love for a child is different. Not more. Different. Totally different.  Parenting is busy, frustrating, thought provoking, funny, loving, exciting, scary and challenging. It is also one big worry. I think that is one of the things that makes your love for your child so unique. I worry for her, I worry about her, feel her pain, her elation. I want to protect her from everything because the thought of her hurting emotionally or physically tears me up inside. And then I worry some more that I can’t always protect her. The little one can also drive me utterly batty occasionally, and I find those times extremely stressful.

It is exhausting when she is ill.

It is challenging when she pushes the boundaries.

It hurts when she is upset.

It is a worry when she has to take the next step in her life.

It is a wrench to be apart from her.

It is claustrophobic when we are together.

It is difficult to watch her become frustrated.

It is a pressure to do the right thing.

BUT, it is wonderful. A truly wonderful experience being a mother.

I hear the word Mummy, and it is directed at me. I know the little one loves me unconditionally. I know only I can make her feel better. I know it is me who she thinks of first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I have a best friend in her, and she one in me. It is amazing to watch the little one and my husband play and laugh together or cuddle up and read a book. It warms our hearts to look at her sleeping face each night, smile at each other and know we made her. I MUST remind myself of these things every day.

I am so blessed. I know that. Yes it isn’t always easy being a parent. Yes it isn’t easy at all that she is an only child. When she was born, and for a while through that warm, fuzzy haze of becoming a parent, I thought that everything would be OK in the world from then on. That nothing would matter because we had her and she made us ecstatically happy. Of course, the reality is she makes us ridiculously happy and proud but we still have difficult times to face even if our life is theoretically perfect. I guess that underneath these emotional rough seas it still remains true. Everything will be OK because we have her. I have to focus on doing the best job by her, and make every second with her count so that yes, even if my body fails me I can look back and know that I never failed the little one.

 And a message to my child who is yet to be conceived; I am your Mum too. Even though you haven’t chosen to come to us … yet. We are here, waiting for you, already loving you. It’s a day late, but Happy Mother’s Day to me.

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!