Sunday, February 28, 2010

That time of the month

The phrase is so familiar. That time of the month. But what exactly does it mean? Raging hormones. Irritability. Depression. Cramps or discomfort.

The "non-IF" translation of the phrase refers to our period or the few days before. But here is where IF takes us for another ride and confuses the meaning of things.

What time of the month is worst for you? Sure, having my period is bad. The hormonal changes and cramps are compounded by more fears and depression. But there are plenty of other contenders for the worst time of the month. It could be when I take clomid. Certainly the hormones are raging then. And the irritability and headaches. Or it might be the time around ovulation. The stress of trying to achieve perfect timing. The two week wait. That doesn't need any explanation for how it can be a horrible "time of the month." Even worse is the one week wait as the end date draws near and phantom symptoms start appearing or disappearing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mind and Body, part 2

The first part of my Mind and Body weekend workshop can be found here. This is the second part.

We did some cognitive restructuring. I found this helpful, but I'm not sure I can describe it accurately for all of you. The idea is that any situation we are in (infertility) is connected to the feelings we have by our thoughts. So the situation of infertility makes us angry, sad, etc by our thoughts. And example might be "I will never be pregnant." The goal is to figure out where those thoughts come from, examine whether they are logical, and whether there is actually any evidence to support those thoughts.

And here is where it gets tricky. Some of the thoughts I have and others have come from the internet. Most of the other people there, including the facilitator, blamed all the IF blogs out there for creating negative thoughts and contributing to our stress and negative feelings. I disagreed with most of what they were saying and when talking to DH about it, he also thought they were missing out on much of the support I get from my fellow bloggers (that would be you!). After thinking about it, I do think that the time I spend on a particular message board is not productive and contributes to my tendency to let IF take over my life. So I need to think about how or whether to decrease my time there. I don't want to lose some of the connections I have with some women there who don't blog, so I'm not sure what to do.

But blogging and, more importantly, participating in the blogging community, is different for me. It has been the biggest contributor to my decreased feelings of loneliness in this journey. I do think there are times when I read the story of a couple who have been trying for seven years or so and wonder if we will find ourselves seven years down the line in the same position as we are now. That makes me depressed and leads to thoughts that I will never get pregnant. But the feeling I get when I get comments is an exquisitely positive feeling. It really is like a hug from someone who has been walking in my shoes.

Being able to write out my thoughts has been a tremendous stress relief and outlet for all my anxieties. I guess I could write in just a journal that is not a blog, but hearing back from all of you that my experiences, thoughts, and feelings are normal makes me feel like I am not here all alone. That I am not some freak. That this is something that is truly difficult and I am not just whining.

So my take-aways from the weekend? I will continue blogging, but maybe scale back on other internet activities. I will find ways to nurture myself every day. I will practice breathing and relaxation exercises. I already had my first acupuncture appointment! Today's visit was just a Q&A, no needles. But I'm going to take the plunge. I will investigate other IF clinics after my lap.

Mind and Body, part 1

I promised a description and my thoughts on the mind/body fertility workshop I went to. First, let me just say it was fabulous. I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity.

The overall philosophy is not about helping to get us pregnant, but about helping us be happier in our lives. It is about getting us to follow our hearts for what we should be doing now. It is about getting us to restructure our thoughts about our bodies and our struggles.

It started out with a description of the relationship between stress and infertility. Hormones that are released during the flight or fight response to stress can interfere with hormones needed for normal fertility functioning. As the constant churn or reminders of IF bring up that stress response (i.e., each new dr visit, each pregnancy announcement, each return of AF) it puts us in a constant state of stress. This part of the workshop did veer close to the "just relax" mode of advice, but still it was much different. We talked not only of relaxing in general, but using breathing and body visualization techniques to activate the parasympathetic response rather than the stress response. She also gave us strategies to practice relaxation techniques before events that we believe will be stressful, such as while in the dr's office waiting room or before a group gathering where we know there will be pregnant women or talk of babies. I used it during my dr appointment on Monday and it did make me feel better. We also practiced being mindful and present in the moment rather than let our thoughts wander to the past of previous failed cycles or to the scary future.

The nurse who facilitated this workshop seemed caught off guard that all the women there brought our husbands. Usually it is a room full of women and maybe one husband. Some parts of it was like couples counseling. We talked together about what we actually visualize when we say we want to be pregnant or want to be parents. About how we see the difference between those two statements. We practiced active listening techniques and strategies to not let talk of IF or treatment take over our entire relationship.

Let me say just a bit more about this distinction the facilitator kept trying to make all weekend. How is being a parent different from being pregnant? What does it mean to say you have your "own" child? If we define these statements and separate out what parts are important to us, then that can help guide us to what other alternatives we may open ourselves up to. For example, adoption is one way to be a parent without having the experience of being pregnant. But for someone whom the experience of being pregnant or childbirth is important, using donor sperm or eggs could be a good alternative. We have just started the process of thinking in these terms and so have not come to any realizations yet. I think that I am still operating in my brain when I say I am open to adoption. For me, given all the difficulties and risks of comparing IVF to adoption, adoption seems more "logical" to me. But in my heart it feels like giving up. And right now I am not willing to do that.

We also talked about strategies for dealing with various scenarios we find ourselves in. For example, we talked about my struggles to create boundaries with my mother and her ignoring all boundaries anyway. Another woman there has a similar struggle and her solution has been to tell her mother they are taking a break when in fact they are not doing so. I am going to give that a try. We talked about ways to find time to nurture ourselves in this process. We compared doctors and clinics in the area to see what other options there are for our treatments. We compared western medicine to eastern medicine. We did some journaling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This is dedicated...

To the one I love.

Happy birthday to my dearest husband! I could not get through the days without you by my side. I hope every birthday wish comes true.

Monday, February 22, 2010

SITM 2010

I was very glad to participate in SITM this year! I received some fabulous socks from Jaymee at Our Surrogacy Adventure. These were perfect! Not only are they super cute and fun, but they also came in a pack of 3 (i.e., 3 individual socks, not 3 pairs) so I will still have a complete set to wear when I inevitably lose one in the wash.

Here I am sporting the socks in my dr appointmet today! The picture on the stirrups didn't turn out, but you can see me from the first half of the appointment. (Ignore the swollen toe that I sprained).

The blogging community has been a great source of support this past year. I think most importantly for me is just knowing that I am not alone in this process and that everything I am feeling and going through is normal. There are days when I feel like my body is betraying me and that I am not fully a woman. Knowing there are so many other strong women going through the same thing (or close to it at least) helps ease that feeling of loneliness.

Many thanks to Kim for organizing SITM!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend roundup

Wow, the mind-body healing weekend was amazing. And emotional and exhausting. I will write out more details later, but if any of you guys have an opportunity to do something like this, I highly recommend it. I decided I am definitely going to try acupuncture and have a good reference for one here.

We also saw a great play last night that I had been wanting to see. So a great weekend all around. Except we were cooped up for the first nice weekend of the year. But that is easy to get over. And I hurt my toe, so am in some pain. I guess I have told you guys more embarrassing things about me, so I can admit that I hurt my little toe getting into the shower. No crazy story to go along with it, just being clumsy and ended up with a big bruise and a limp. Oh well. I think I will still be able to fit my new SITM socks over my toes for my dr appt tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Next few days

We have a busy few days in front of us. This weekend we have a two day integrative health counseling session. It is a group counseling thing for couples with IF. I wanted to do this about 6 months when I first heard of it, but it was not a good time for us. Now they are offering it again and I signed us up. We will see how it goes. I have also been thinking of starting acupuncture at this place, so we will see what type of advice they give.

Monday I go in for the consult for the lap. My RE does not them herself, so I am having a consultation with her partner. What advice do you have this consultation? Are there particular questions I should be asking?

Catholic Infertility

I mentioned the pre-marital counseling DH and I went through before we were married in the Catholic Church. As part of that, we also had a one day workshop for engaged couples. One talk as part of that workshop was given by a nun and focused on how important a healthy sexual relationship is to marriage. We both sat there thinking, "they have the lay married couple give the financial talk and the celibate nun give the sex talk?"

It is these types of experiences that make me frustrated with the Catholic Church. I mean, if you are going to insist on celibacy and rely on (nearly all) men, you should expect people to not want to listen to advice on certain topics where being a celibate male is not that relevant.

So I wasn't too surprised with what I read in the Catholic bishop's advice for infertile couples. The first half reads pretty much as you might expect since it was written by a bunch of men who have never been married or had sex (or at least not in a very long time). I tried to not get upset when one of their touching little statements from actual couples made is sound dangerously close to the advice of "just relax" when a couple described how they considered IVF, but then tried a more "natural" approach and had a positive, successful outcome. Good for them. Too bad it won't work for most others. If the bishops want to talk about finding peace in this struggle that is one thing, but telling us we should just relax is quite another.

My anger boiled over about halfway through when I reached the cloning section. Yes, you read that right. A document supposedly about infertile couples and ART made a direct comparison to cloning. I can understand the moral concerns with IVF (I have them myself), but to put IVF and cloning in the same breath is just not honest. It's not like cloning is an alternative considered by infertile couples and including it in a document targeted to this population just insults us, most of whom are trying to figure out the morally appropriate way to proceed.

Luckily the bishops then moved in a little light humor. At least I assumed they must have been joking when they described using locating the woman's fertile time to maximize chance of conceiving in the married couple's loving act of union. hahahahahaha! I mean, which couple actually pursuing timed intercourse while trying to conceive would call it a loving act? Timed sex is one of the most stressful and least enjoyable parts of the whole process. I felt closer to my husband praying together after our IUI than some of the times my fertility monitor said we needed to have sex that day.

I understand the teaching about procreative and unitive love in marriage. But intercourse is not the only way to have unitive love. In fact I am not sure it is even the most important way in which two people unite themselves in marriage. So why is intercourse the only way to express procreative love?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Dear Tagalongs,

It has been, what, nearly a year since our last tryst? Oh, how I want you, please don't let so much time go by again. You bring such joy to my life and I need you now more than ever. Give me just one more night before you disappear again.


Dear Thin Mints,

OK, I may have spent some time recently with Tagalongs. But you don't understand. You were my first love. My true love. Sometimes I want a little peanut butter on the side, but your minty-goodness is what completes me.


Dear coffee,

I'm sorry to be leaving you for the next 40 days. I promise the time will pass quickly. But, you see, Lent is here and it was either you or chocolate. Thin Mints won. Let's set a rendezvous for Easter morning.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ugh, my mom is still stressing me out and she is even here anymore. During her visit she made some passing reference to Celine Dion and leaving an article for me to read. I didn't really pay much attention because my then I was trying to ignore most of what she said and while I think Celine Dion is fine, it's not like I'm her biggest fan or anything. My mom is the type to clip articles for other people, but usually it is if she thinks it is really relevant. Like when she brought me our local paper's description of my high school marching band in the Macy's parade after Thanksgiving.

But last night I was tidying up our guest room and noticed she left a People magazine. Guess what was on the cover? Celine Dion saying she will do as many IVFs as it takes to get a second child. As someone who is watching the Giuliana and Bill show, I shouldn't be complaining about how the media is portraying celebrities and IF, but this really bugged me. They never described why she needs to use IVF (other than the fact that she is in her 40s now) and made it seem like people who do IVF are obsessive and desperate. Celine said she will do anything it takes to get pregnant, but is not going to do IVF 17 times! As if there are other people on their 16th, 17th IVF cycle?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hard weekend

This was a particularly hard weekend for me. My mom and grandmother were in town to visit. The first night of their visit, my mom randomly starts telling the birth stories of my nieces and nephews. It didn't make any sense since my sister wasn't there to participate. My mom just wanted to brag about how she was able to make it to the births of all her grandchildren. I couldn't take it and got up to do the dishes during this conversation (usually my least favorite chore-so you know I just wanted to escape).

The next day we were in a larger group and the men sat down to watch TV and the women were in the other room. And then the conversation turned to baby food. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. Every other woman around the table shared what they fed their baby and how much or little they relied on actual baby food. This was a conversation I could not participate in. I feel like there are so many conversations that I am completely left out of. Unfortunately I was seated in the far corner and couldn't escape. I went back to my old habit of emotional eating and finished off the rest of the cookies while they compared motherhood notes.

The third day I started in a bad mood. Going to church and out to breakfast with DH helped improve my mood, but it quickly turned sour again while trying to cook with mom. The day got progressively worse until dinner when we all sat around the table and started talking about who each of my nieces and nephews look like. Again, I don't remember how we got on this topic. But we had to compare noses and face shapes and mouths. I wanted to be somewhere else.

See, it's moments like these where I never know if telling my mom about our IF was the right thing to do or not. She is oblivious to how painful this is for me. Or at least when she thinks about our IF she might acknowledge is it painful for us, but in the 90% of the rest of the time, she is oblivious. This conversation also got me wondering how my mom would deal with an adopted grandchild if we get to that road. Now that we have a failed IUI behind us, I am thinking of that road more and more. I can see us doing that. I can also see my ILs being happy with adoption. I can't see my mom making this adjustment. She has a lot of faith in instantaneous and biological connections. She had to be present at each birth. She relishes "seeing" herself or her kids in her grandkids.

My older sister has 4 kids. The three older kids love anyone they are around and my mom has a strong bond with them. I really do think that is valuable. I myself have a deep bond with my grandmother. But my mom has had trouble bonding with the youngest nephew. I'm not sure why, but he just has a personality that requires you to work harder at establishing that bond. And my mom has not put in that effort. She wants it to be effortless. Expects it to be effortless, because she is, after all, his grandmother. She shouldn't have to work at it. So I have trouble seeing my mom want to put in that effort for an adopted grandchild. Well, not that she wouldn't want to put in the effort, but she wouldn't expect to need to and so wouldn't do it. She would expect the bond to be natural, not something that requires effort.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cycle over

Sorry for keeping you all in suspense this weekend. But I've been really busy with teaching. AF came on Friday, officially bringing an end to my first IUI cycle. We are thinking about our next steps now. I think it will involve a lap to get more answers on what is going on with my left tube.

In happier news, Go Saints!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


An award! Just what I needed today to forget about my impending AF and get ready for my busy day and weekend. DH is getting confirmed tonight in our church and I am teaching all this weekend, so I won't have much time to blog.

Anxious Mummy is so sweet to give me the Beautiful Blogger award. And a little funny to get it today since I'm messing with how things look around here. But I think it is me, and not just the blog layout, that is getting the award, so I'll take it.

The instructions that go along with this award are as follows:* Thank the person who nominated you for this award.* Copy the award and place it in your blog.* Link the person who nominated you for this award.* Tell us 7 interesting things about you.* Nominate 7 bloggers.* Post the links to the 7 bloggers you nominate.

My 7 interesting things:
1. I have a Ph.D. I might have told some of you a while ago. So the class I am teaching this weekend is a graduate class for working professionals. Which means they probably know more about what I'm teaching than I do.
2. I used to be obsessed with New Kids on the Block. Seriously obsessed. I even put posters on the back wall of my closet b/c everywhere else in my room was covered.
3. I am getting new furniture today! Very excited that my new dresser will finally arrive. I love Pott.ery B.arn.
4. I make my own cards. I like doing crafty things like that.
5. I am published (and not just on this blog). Kinda goes along with having the Ph.D. But I suspect more people have read what I wrote on this blog than what was published in an academic journal.
6. I always thought if my academic career didn't work out, I would open a store called "My Favorite Things" and it would feature cupcakes, coffee, and crochet. I saw a hair dresser/yarn store combo once and figure my ideas are a better mesh than that. It could work.
7. I am involved in local politics. I find it quite amusing how I can meet someone once and the next time I see them, they act like we are best friends.

Seven Bloggers:
1. Tireegal
2. Hillary
3. Secret D
4. Leslie
5. Such a Good Egg
6. Ruth
7. A

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Losing hope

My BBT temp dropped today, which puts this cycle right in line with two of my previous clomid and timed intercourse cycles that, obviously, were not successful. So I am quickly losing hope that this worked. I don't know what to think. This for me is the worst part of the wait. You've lost hope but can't move on. I can't quite say I'm disappointed, although I am. Or I should be. I don't really feel much of anything now, just that it's probably over and I don't want to wait a few days for AF to finally show.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

12 dpiui

My progesterone came back at 29.1, which is fantastic since the average is more like 15. So I must have had a good little eggie there. Just the news I wanted to hear the day I had to watch a CNN report on women losing their eggs at age 30. (It was at the gym with nothing else to look at and no way to change the channel).

I go in for a beta on Monday, although by then I should think I know the results either way.
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