PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You're NOT Alone (No, Really)

I was lying down on my therapist’s couch doing what I often do: Staring at the blank white walls wondering what paintings I would hang up if it were my office. I don’t know why I was thinking of this as A) this is not what I go to therapy for and B) if I did have an office, I wouldn’t have picked the one she did. It’s not that it’s a bad office. It’s just very, very small and with the white walls, lying down and the claustrophobic space, I often feel like I’m getting an MRI when I’m there.

As I pondered d├ęcor choices, my therapist asked, “Why do you still think you feel ashamed of having fertility issues?

Because everyone else around me can get pregnant without a problem!” I answered.

She gave a long sigh. She tends to do this a lot during our sessions.

She said, “You’re using one circle of friends who did not have fertility issues and are broadening it out to say that all women are able to have children except you in order to unconsciously justify your anger, jealousy and sense of unfairness. You don't know ‘all’ women! You know just a teeny percentage of the entire population. Furthermore, if what you said were true, we wouldn't have developed an entire industry the sole purpose of which is to help women get pregnant.

This was an exceptionally thought provoking and logical point. However, my reaction was, “Yeah, yeah, yeah… eat my jealous infertile shorts.” I can be a difficult, if not an amusing patient.

Approximately one in eight couples in America have fertility issues and since I’ve reached out to the infertility community at large, I’ve met many men and women who have had issues, continue to have issues or who have had children despite their issues. It’s pretty clear that I’m far from alone in my struggle to conceive.

I know that consciously… but it would appear my subconscious has yet to get the memo. Pinocchio may have had Jiminy Cricket for his conscience but I’m beginning to suspect a bitchy mosquito is mine. She's sucking the life out of me and whispering, “It’s just you loser!

All in all, my therapist has a point. It’s not that I’m ACTUALLY alone. I just feel alone. My question is why?

At the risk of pissing off one person or another, I actually think it would be easier for me to have a terminal illness than to admit to certain people in my life that we’re having trouble conceiving. I certainly don’t want a terminal illness nor do I mean to say that infertility is worse than someone with a terminal illness. I just think for whatever god forsaken reason in my mind that it would be easier to say to someone, “I have cancer” than it would be to say to someone, “We’ve been trying to have kids and we can’t seem to have them.”

The only reason for this that I can surmise is that shame and fault are inexplicitly attached to infertility. If you’re sick, it’s no one’s fault. If you tell someone you can’t seem to conceive, one of the first questions tends to be, “Is the problem with you or your husband?” Someone or something must be to blame whereas if you tell someone you’re sick, no one would ask, “You’ve got an illness? Why would you go and do a thing like that???

So, if you feel that something is your fault or that you failed in some way, you’re less likely to talk about it or admit it to people… thus… you feel more isolated and alone. That’s my theory anyway. Well, that and as per my therapist, I like to justify feeling like sh*t. Go me!

The thing is, similar to any illness, infertility isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s simply the hand you’ve been dealt and for the life of me, even though I’m fairly open with friends and family who I know won’t annoy me about it, I would love, LOVE, to not feel like it’s just me in this.

Until I finally accept once and for all that there are COUNTLESS others out there like me and that no one is to blame for this hilariously irritating trying to conceive debacle (or H.I.T.T.C.D. for short), I’ll continue swatting away at my inner bitchy mosquito and redecorating my therapists walls. Hey… we can only do the best we can, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forcing My Groove Back

Talk about a change in attitude? Yes, I still don’t understand the injustices of life (Exhibit A: The success of the reality shows, “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”) and yes, I’m still very hurt and bitter towards my first reproductive endocrinologist for being such a f*ck stick. However, I’ve decided to move forward because… well… basically… what other options do I have?

This cycle is an all around fresh and hopefully fun start in the working towards conceiving department. On Sunday, in anticipation of my LH Surge this coming week, I cleaned our apartment, took out my thermometer, laid out all my ovulation prediction kits, decorated the bedroom with vanilla scented candles, made sure the sperm friendly lubricant was ready to go and I tried to locate my Catholic School Girl outfit which my husband adores despite the fact that he’s an atheist. I want to not only be conception ready, but I want to literally have fun trying.

It’s strange to say but having fertility issues has made me feel less sexy. It’s not necessarily that my love life has suffered as much as the way I view myself has. Maybe I feel like less of a woman because I haven’t gotten pregnant? Maybe all the “scheduled sex” has killed my libido? Maybe it’s a combination of the two? Honestly, how attractive can you feel after so many doctors are looking at your hoo-ha clinically instead of complimentary? I want a standing ovation dammit… not a suggestion on why my cha-cha is possibly dysfunctional!

Whether or not this new attitude and this cycle results in FINALLY getting knocked up, I’m realizing that one of my top priorities is to get my sexy back. Women should always feel sexy no matter what. If I’ve learned nothing else from RuPaul, it’s that we all have a diva inside of us.

No one is perfect. Really – no one. There are a ton of things I’d love to change about myself and how I look. I wish I were thinner. I wish my legs and arms were more toned. I wish that my hair didn’t lie there like a flaccid penis. I wish a lot of things. But there’s no reason why I can’t work with what I do have. Heck - my husband is a smart man and he seems to think I’m attractive (bless his heart) so perhaps I should stop whining and trust his opinion. Plus, not being thin means I’ve got curves to work with, and there’s little in life that can’t be fixed with some make-up, Velcro rollers and some sexy lingerie. As Helena Rubinstein once said, “There are no ugly women; only lazy ones.

This past year and a half has taken a toll on me in ways I never thought possible. It’s good to throw the occasional pity party (even if it turns into a month long celebration) but one can only mope and mourn so much before it starts to get on ones nerves (namely mine). There have been times in these last few weeks that I even considered breaking up with myself. I’ve wanted to say to myself so many times, “Dude. You’re bringing me down!

So, I went for a bikini wax on my lunch hour (ouch!), I’m getting my nails done, I’m wearing my favorite outfits this week and when my ovulation prediction test gives me the go ahead, I’m going to turn my game on and remember that it’s not JUST about trying to conceive, it’s also about connecting with my husband and enjoying my sexy, curvy and fertility challenged self. Cue the porn music!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Etch A Sketch Conception

When I was a kid, I loved Etch-A-Sketch. I loved the idea of taking a clean slate, putting whatever the hell I wanted on it (even though I could never work those effen’ knobs the way I wanted to) and then, when everything looked like a big mess, shaking it clean again.

I think it’s time to shake my internal Etch-A-Sketch clean.

Let’s briefly review: My name is Jay and I’m a freelance writer in the Big Apple. I’ve married another writer; who is adorable and possess the cutest butt you ever did see (not that that’s relevant but I just like mentioning it). We got married two years ago and in that time, fertility issues and financial crap from the fertility issues have attempted to sh*t on our dreams. Trust me – that’s the nicest way I could put it.

We’ve gone through more ovulation prediction kits than I care to remember, three inseminations (one on Valentine’s Day… how romantic!), one IVF, an incompetent asshole doctor, insurance bills up the ying yang, and one recent uterine polyp removal.

I’ve been to acupuncture, a hypnotist, and a spiritual healer. I’ve tried cough syrup, baby aspirin, raspberry tea, evening primrose oil and bargaining with both god (if he could get the Virgin Mary knocked up, you’d think he could help my sorry ass out) and the devil… depending on my mood and hormone levels.

Almost everyone we know has gotten pregnant in the last few years (or at least it feels that way) and some even got pregnant more than once without issue. Despite it not being the best attitude, I remain bitter about this and will most likely continue to feel bitter about it. I like my tea with Spelnda and I like my blog with bitter. That’s just the way it is.

That brings us to today. It’s my second cycle after having my uterine polyp (today’s Cycle Day four for those playing along at home). Last cycle, even though it was the first time trying without my polyp, I was still working through my feelings from the past year and a half, plus, I had fallen out of practice in all my ‘trying to conceive’ efforts. “What days do I start peeing on the ovulation prediction stick again? What’s the happy face mean? Did I take my temperature? Where the hell did I put that thermometer? Wait, that’s not a thermometer!

After my “polypectomy”, my uterus was clean (so to speak) and ready to begin again, but clearly, I wasn’t. This working towards getting pregnant thing can take a lot of you especially when it does NOT go smoothly. I needed a moment emotionally and psychologically. I am feeling better though these days. My funny bone has healed, I remembered that I actually like sex (funny how these things slip you mind) and dammit – I just want to enjoy this again.

So I’m shaking the last two years off and cleaning my ‘Trying-to-Conceive-Etch-A-Sketch ’. I’m treating myself well, keeping expectations in check (as you may have read in my last blog entry), I’m focusing on the positive (while still indulging in the occasional bitterness), I’m getting the candles, thermometer and ovulation prediction kits out, and I’m hoping for the best. If this month doesn’t work, I may have to start thinking about why I liked the Slinky and if there’s anything metaphorical about it to getting knocked up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Cycle of No Expectations

Today is Cycle Day #1. I’m feeling like Aunt Flo is a stalker I can’t shake. Can you actually file a restraining order against your period?

I’ve been thinking lately about how I was when we first started to try to get pregnant. I was thinner, enthusiastic and diligent about everything I put in my body. Every two week wait, I behaved as if I were pregnant. I’d stop Advil, only used organic make-up; I wouldn’t touch a cleaning product and would read every possible item in my home to see if it contained anything that might hurt my imagined pregnancy.

With the arrival of my bitchy Aunt, I have just completed the first two week wait after my polyp was removed and I must say the experience was extremely different. In the last few weeks, I’ve used dandruff shampoo, I had tuna fish for lunch several times, I took my migraine medication over the weekend and I wore an icy hot patch on my knee a yesterday. It’s so funny to me that “being bad” is having TWO cups of coffee. Ooooo, I’m a rebel! Look out! I may even take a hot bath! That’s right ladies! I’ve gone mad! Muu-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

Now obviously, I’m not drinking heaps of alcohol or even smoking crack for that matter (although that may be the one thing that will help me lose weight), but the days of automatically assuming I’m pregnant are over.

It’s not that I’m promoting irresponsibility. I’m just saying that until you actually know you’re pregnant, why torture yourself with the minor details? Be responsible but don’t be drive yourself crazy because you the thought of having sushi crossed your mind for a second.

And so we’re clear – I’m not saying this because I’ve given up hope. That’s not the case. It’s more of a “been there, done that” attitude. I’ve been in the two week wait more times than I care to remember and it hasn’t worked out yet so why stress over everything I’m doing, eating or drinking? Plus, I’ve lost count of the amount of women I know who’ve engaged in various activities who all got pregnant no problem, who all had no issues and whose children were all born healthy.

I’m not bitter or anything.

Ok. Maybe a little.

It was my first cycle back and it was a low pressure, low stress one. I’d like to keep it that way for this next cycle too if I can. These days, it’s about reconnecting, regaining a sense of humor, having fun sex (lots of fun sex) and seeing if we can get pregnant naturally this time around now that my uterus has been cleaned out and polished up!

So, here we go again... with expectations in check. It's Cycle Day One - I’m ready, I’m not stressing, and I’m going to go buy myself a naughty nurse or cop costume for ovulation time. That's right. You heard me. Bring it on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Ode to My Fertility Challenged Blogging Friends & Readers

When I started blogging about my fertility (or lack their of) issues in March 2010, I had no idea where it would take me, who I would meet and what it would eventually mean to me. Yes, blogging gives me an outlet and keeps me sane (mostly) but it's also introduced me to so many people, fellow bloggers and women like me who just want to get knocked up. Whenever I make a mental list of what good has come out of my trying to conceive saga, I always list this blog, my readers and the fellow fertility challenged friends I've made.

The Fertility Blogs (http://thefertilityblogs.com/) who has been following my blog here on Blogger, recently asked if I would write something just for their website. The Fertility Blogs is a fertility/infertility community website that provides information, support and a means for ANYONE (including you) to share their thoughts, feelings and anecdotes as they work towards starting a family. I, of course, was honored and accepted.

Keeping in mind the overall objective of The Fertility Blogs, I wanted to write a piece about my experience of blogging while struggling to conceive. It's called, "Blogging Through The Pain" and can be found here: http://thefertilityblogs.com/2010/08/blogging-through-the-pain/

In the spirit of this piece, I do want to take a moment here on my blog to thank you from the bottom of my worn out uterus. This TTC ride has had a lot of low points but your comments, suggestions, emails, and in the case of many of you, your blogs have been immeasurably helpful, have made me laugh, cry, laugh and cry simultaneously, and reminded me of the most important thing us infertiles very often forget: We are NOT alone.

We may not know how our stories will end but we do know that we have each other... even if it is only online in cyber world.

I thank you again for absolutely everything. I wish each of you hope, laughter and a happy ending. In the meantime, I'm going to continue blogging my ass off!

XOXOXO,

Jay

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Fractured Funny Bone

I have a personal motto: Until I’m able to make fun of it, I can’t talk about it. This is something I’ve learned about myself over the years. The trouble is that lately, I’m having a difficult time thinking of jokes about my quest to get knocked up. It’s like my funny bone is broken. Well, maybe not broken but definitely fractured at the very least.

Since I started this blog, I’ve received so many generous compliments on how I seem to find the humor in trying to conceive. These comments, emails and sentiments have meant the world to me and have kept me going. This is why I feel terrible that I haven’t written in awhile and that I seem to have misplaced my humor. I’ve looked under the couch, in my purse, in the fridge and several other possible places but it’s temporarily missing in action.

WANTED: MY SENSE OF HUMOR. LAST SEEN SEVERAL WEEKS AGO AT A FAMILY DINNER.

What’s taken its place seems to be a slew of emotions I haven’t dealt with. When you’re going through inseminations, doctor visits, injections and so forth, you get into a functional mode. You take each moment as it comes. You stay focused on getting through it and not feeling too much as you don’t want to get your hopes up nor do you want to be disappointed again. You are, in a sense, numb.

In the last month or so, I’ve switched to a better doctor, I’ve had a uterine polyp removed and for the most part, the madness seems to have died down. No shots, no pills, no bi-weekly doctor visits, no blood work. We have (mostly) returned to our regularly scheduled lives and are trying again the old fashioned way. Now that there are less dramatic distractions, I think all the emotions I kept in check have had an opportunity to finally come out, which isn’t a bad thing. It just feels like a bad thing.

In effect, I have Post Traumatic Trying to Conceive Syndrome.

Throughout this adventure (I hate to use the word ‘adventure’ as it implies it’s been fun but there you are), I’ve always been aware that I’ve had my moments of being down. However, in the past few weeks, I’ve been flooded with feelings over failed ‘reproductive assisted’ attempts, the loss of money and mostly, the lack of a baby to show for it. Even though I know things could have been incredibly worse and as much as it pains me to admit this to you without the benefit of making a joke, the truth is I’m pretty damn unhappy, resentful and exhausted these days.

My name is Jay and trying to conceive has kicked my sorry fertility challenged ass.

Hello Jay!

In the midst of all this, I’ve also realized just how very hurt and betrayed I feel by my first doctor. It doesn’t help matters either that while I’m dealing with a barrage of emotions in general and a growing hostility towards him, he continues to send me bills for stuff that not only didn’t work, but that couldn’t have worked thanks to the uterine polyp he somehow missed for the year I was seeing him.

The cherry on top of this crap sundae is that, according to my insurance company, the labs and tests he’s billing me for are typically not covered by my insurance as they feel they are not necessary (for whatever reason). The doctor, who is in network, apparently should have been aware of this. Therefore, if you believe my insurance company, the doctor knew I would most likely get stuck paying the bills.

Ok. It’s bad enough that the man somehow missed my sizable uterine polyp. It’s extra sucky that he made me blow my insurance’s once in a life time coverage for an IVF when I had “Jackson Polyp” cock-blocking any embryos but then to find a way to make me pay extra for this series of failures is maddening. The message appears to be, “Hey there! I f*cked you over and I’m still finding new and exciting ways to f*ck you over! Pay me fifteen hundred dollars!”

I’m now put in the position to beg him for supportive documentation to prove the labs/tests he did were in fact medically necessary. The goal is to use what the doctor will hopefully send me and then forward it to my insurance company who believes all of it was not vital but more “investigative”… whatever the holy hell that means.

Did you follow all that? How effen’ annoying is all this?

Even though I’m truly pissed at this doctor and believe he should have spoken to me about whether or not these tests would be covered beforehand, I’d like to think that if a doctor does lab work and x-rays, it isn’t for kicks.

Any which way, it’s not much fun having your woman parts caught in an argument between your ex-doctor and your insurance company. My ovaries have a lot going for them… but mediators - they are not.

So, my sense of humor is on vacation, I’m finally dealing with my thoughts and feelings from the last year and a half, I’m receiving bills from both the first doctor as well as the second doctor for the polyp-removal surgery and I’m attempting to all these invoices out with my insurance company who thinks I’ve got the money and time to dick around with what CPT code is considered legitimate. I have organized all these bills, statements, records, and copies into one big brown accordion folder. The color brown is appropriate as it feels like one big pile of sh*t.

It may take a while but I know my heart and my funny bone will heal eventually. At least I hope so as I’m sure my insurance company doesn’t consider emotions and a sense of humor ‘medically necessary’.