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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Confessions of an Infertile

When talking to friends, family or pretty much anyone on the subject on my fertility issues, I sometimes feel like my answers are ones I would give if I were being interviewed on Oprah. They are well-written responses that have been given careful thought in what I want to convey. It would go something like this:
OPRAH: You’ve been trying to get pregnant for two years with no success. Do you ever think ‘Why me?’
ME: That’s an excellent question Oprah! Sure, there have been moments where it’s frustrating but the more I’ve dealt with this, the more I realize that there is no logic to it. It’s an issue many women struggle with and the only thing to do is to think positive and move forward. Incidentally, can you loan me $10,000?
It’s not that the above answer is bullshit (especially not the part about asking Oprah for money) but if I really said what I’m thinking and feeling on the subject of my infertility (which changes on an hourly basis some days), people would think I’m either insane, a bitch, selfish, masochistic or an occasional saint. The saint part would be on my good days when I would say such things as, “I’m happy for absolutely everyone who is blessed with a baby! Who cares if they are in an unhealthy relationship and broke! A baby only needs love!

This reminds me of something that happened this past week. I had just gotten a saline sonogram. My new doctor wanted to check things out before even discussing a third IVF and that made total sense to me. The sonogram went well (although I still think they should throw in a pedicure to make it more bearable) and I was given the all clear: no polyps or fibroids. Just a uterus. A lonely, empty uterus. Perhaps I should put a sign in there that says, “Space Available For Rent”.

I was standing at the nearby subway station waiting for the downtown train leaking saline (I felt like a water balloon), when I saw a homeless woman sitting cross legged on the subway station floor holding a sign. It said, “Seven months pregnant and homeless”. I don’t know what shocked me more: That at that moment, I was jealous of a homeless woman simply because she was pregnant or that I seriously considered asking her if I could have her baby when she gave birth. It’s a good thing the A train arrived when it did as it saved me from both an awkward conversation and dripping saline water on her cardboard sign.

That night, I had a therapy session and we were talking about IVF 3, the last two years, and how I was feeling. Obviously, with my therapist, I tend to be more honest with her than I would be with Oprah. Also, when it comes to therapy, it’s her that’s usually asking me for the $10,000. Mental health doesn’t come cheap these days. Who am I kidding? Nothing comes cheap these days.

For whatever reason, something just snapped in me when talking to my therapist this particular session. Out of nowhere, I said something that I often think, that I know isn’t logical or accurate but how I feel. I never like to say it out loud but it’s there. It’s in my head every time I see a pregnant woman, every doctor's appointment I have and pretty much every time I talk to anyone about my fertility issues. I said out loud, “I’m a failure as a woman.”

Again, I know this isn’t true. Not having children doesn’t REALLY make you any less of a woman unless you let it. You’re still a person. You still can be sexy, or maternal or well, a woman. It's just that despite my boobs and cellulite, it doesn’t feel that way all the time.

This mini-incident made me think about all the things that are in my head that I don’t say either because I judge myself for it, because I know it’s not nice, because I’m embarrassed or because I don’t like to admit them to myself. However, after saying my horrible little statement to my therapist, it inspired me to make a list of things I think and feel that are what I consider my dirty little secrets. I want to share them with you as I’m hoping putting them down on paper (or more accurately, on Blogger) will help set me free. They are:

~ Sometimes, I’m really not all that happy for people when they are pregnant. Sometimes I truly am... but yeah... sometimes, not so much.

~ I’ve hated the last two Christmas’s. Aside from the fact that it’s all about family and gifts for kids, it reminds me that even a virgin can get pregnant while I can’t.

~ I wake up almost every night at 3am and think, “It’s never going to happen for me."

~ I still have crushes on attractive male celebrities (no matter the age). Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Pattinson and Ryan Reynolds... I'm looking in your direction.

~ I listen to Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige and pretend I can sing like them (Yes, there is a African-American Fertile Soul Singer in me dying to come out).

~ When I see pregnant women, I get so jealous of them that I hate myself for it.

~ I feel guilty for even thinking the previous statement.

~ I’ve started to avoid good friends who have children simply because they don’t understand what I’m going through.

~ I’ve considered moonlighting as a phone sex operator to make extra cash. I voted it down as my husband would hate that and I wouldn't want to get an ear infection or anything.

~ I could eat cheese for every meal. Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, brie, etc. Every. Meal.

~ I swing back and forth between blaming my husband and blaming myself for being childless.

~ I hate, yes, HATE, any celebrity who is pregnant regardless of whatever issues they’ve had. They have money, they are attractive, and they could have a baby any way they want: surrogate, 100 IVF’s, adoption or a time-share kid if they so choose.

~ I can’t even watch commercials having to do with diapers, pregnancy tests, baby products, or toys.

~ The mere existence of babies and children at restaurants depress me.

~ Sometimes it feels like I am doing my best to act “normal” almost 75% of the time these days.

~ Songs that used to inspire me before past fertility treatments (JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET by Michael Buble or NOBODY IS GOING TO RAIN ON MY PARADE by Barbra Streisand), I now can’t even listen to as they are associated with failed cycles.

~ I ask myself ‘Why me?’ more often than I can count.

~ I know I should like I LOVE LUCY, THE HONEYMOONERS and SEINFELD but I just don't.

~ I feel like I’m being punished.

~ Sometimes it scares me how angry I get at the entire world.

~ I hate what I look like naked.

~ I’m mad at myself for not majoring in something more lucrative.

~ I always wake up with the thought and hope that I will stay strong and positive and some days, I fail miserably.

It’s important to remember that feelings are not facts. It’s also important to remember that I don’t feel these things all the time every day but they do float in my subconscious and perhaps admitting them to myself, you, friends, my therapist and Oprah (if I ever meet her someday) will put them out on the table where I can see them. Having them in front of me, I can address them and say, “It’s ok to feel these things. Having these feelings doesn’t make them true and it doesn’t make me a bad person.”

I think I just need to get to a point where I acknowledge that I’m human and I sometimes think shitty thoughts. Thinking shitty thoughts and acting on them are two different things. I’m not a failure. I know in my heart I’m not… I just still feel like one more often than not some days. It’s like a mental arm wrestle and sometimes one side is stronger than the other.

To try to make this post somewhat positive (which is not easy after a list of evil, negative thoughts), I guess I’d have to say that admitting we’re not perfect and admitting that we don’t always have a positive attitude makes us strong. It’s like what they say about being courageous: It’s not that you’re not afraid. It’s that you ARE afraid but you face whatever it is anyway.

With me, to admit that I’m not perfect, that I don’t always have my act together is being honest and vulnerable. There’s courage in that, isn’t there? There's GOT to be. I mean, how is it courageous to say, “I’m practically perfect in every way and I love everyone at all times!” That’s not strong. That’s fucking Mary Poppins.

In many of the comments I’ve gotten on the blog, people have often said they’ve appreciated my humor and my honesty. Continuing to be honest with you and myself is the only way to get through all this. I guess it’s just that it takes a while for all the ugly truth to come out. It comes out one negative thought at a time. It almost leaks out… much like the saline water after my sonogram.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

I’ve wanted to write this particular blog entry for a while but I couldn’t figure out how to avoid it sounding like a LIFETIME movie. It’s not that I don’t enjoy their “Made-for-TV” movies. The Betty Broderick Story featuring Meredith Baxter is a personal favorite of mine. I just don’t want to be make it so touchy-feely, estrogen laden that you’d all get yeast infections from reading my entry.

I also don’t want to be over-the-top and come off like Lou Gehrig’s speech at the end of THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES. “Today-ay-ay… I consider myself-elf-elf… the luckiest infertile in the world-world-world.

Here’s the thing though: Even though I would never have elected to be part of the infertility crew, I really, truly, genuinely am grateful I’ve gotten to connect with so many generous, kind, thoughtful, amazing, funny human beings.

In the last couple of months in particular, I’ve received so many acts of kindness that despite going on my third invitro, being financially strapped, still processing how sad I am about my struggle to become a mom, I’ve actually felt kinda lucky. I’m part of a community where if I have a question about cervical mucus at two in the morning, someone will respond to it in minutes. The people I’ve connected with take their providing emotional support very seriously.

As some of you know, I'm on the hunt for some medications as they cost so effen’ much and I want to save money wherever I can. Last week, @Le_Barren (her Twitter name), came to a show of mine and slipped me a brown paper bag of Gonal-F. We both laughed that if anyone saw “the exchange”, they would have thought it was hard core street drugs and not hormones.

Then, yesterday, @AdventuresInIF (also her Twitter name) and I went to the movies. During the previews, instead of buying me a bucket of popcorn, she gave me a box of Gonal-F. She also gave me a quick lesson in what needle to use when giving progesterone in oil shots. I’m sure when the man behind us bought his ticket to see JANE EYRE, he didn’t know that in addition to a seeing a romantic classic, he’d hear about how badly your ass can get bruised from giving yourself an injection.

It seems that almost every day lately, either my husband or I have come home to envelopes filled with Menopur or estrogen patches from such Twitter friends as @StolenEggs, @prncssbttrcp70, @Kat_Cushner, @pregnantjust, @LeLeIsMe, @Jennandtonica, @sassyNtubeless, @tiggsintxmama, @Laura129 and @IVFLondonUK. Lord only knows what the mailman must be thinking when he sees the words “Baby Dust!” written on these packages!

I’ve even gotten incredible, generous, BEYOND appreciated financial contributions from Lee, Lillian, and Carmel. Again, I can’t thank you enough for that. I’d offer sexual favors in return but Brad Pitt never returns my calls…

In addition to the necessities, I’ve also received such fun, thoughtful gifts as “fertility socks” from Christina and Lori Green LeRoy (@inadeconception) sent me her book, “The Inadequate Conception” (http://theinadequateconception.blogspot.com/) which I not only found relatable, but it made me laugh out loud which is impressive!

I’ve also received touching, funny and sweet emails from Amy, Melissa, Miranda, Jessica, Meg, Sabrina, Bessie, Susan, Meenakshi, Jevon, Stephanie, Naomi, Carolyn (just to name a few) and of course, from my very dear Canadian friend, Jaycee, all encouraging me and sharing with me their experiences.

There are also the many direct messages of support I've gotten from @MyLazyOvaries whose blog you can find at: http://slackieo.blogspot.com/. Both her humor and support have been relentless.

Then, there are my MANY Twitter and Facebook friends which are too many to list. If I did, it would sound like a modern, cyber, f*cked up version of Romper Room. (And yes, I know only a few of you are going to get that reference. Man, I’m getting old!) Twitter especially has provided me with endless love, support, humor and interaction with fellow infertiles (many who are now pregnant) that I'm incredibly grateful for. I'm honored to know them and exchange meaningful 140 characters with them.

I also must give a shout out to my Infertile Brunch Crew for being an outstanding, giving, honest and understanding group of women. They have also provided some of the best breakfast meals one could hope for:

@SecretSloper - http://parkslopepurgatory.blogspot.com/

@AdventuresInIF - http://adventuresininfertilityland.blogspot.com/

@madampumpkin - http://plantingapumpkinpatch.wordpress.com/

@thisispersonal - http://thisismorepersonal.tumblr.com/

@TheIFDoula - http://www.infertilitydoula.com/

And then there are all of YOUR comments. Some of them have made me laugh, some have made me cry and all of them have been more appreciated than I could ever possibly say without sounding like an overemotional, hormonal Sally Field accepting an Oscar. Whenever I’ve felt silly, you’ve laughed with me and whenever I’ve felt like I was drowining , you’ve thrown me a lifeline. I can’t thank you enough.

Infertility sucks. There's just no way around it but all of these people and many, many more have made this dark room I’m currently trapped in fill up with light more times than I can count be it by flashlight, candle, or fireworks. I honestly don't know what I've done to deserve such kindness but I'm profoundly humbled and honored. What moves me the most right now is that if I ever do actually get pregnant, what started as a project between just my husband and I, has become this huge collaborative effort.

My point is that if I do ever have a baby, this kid already has a massive list of thank you cards to write!

As always, with hope and humor,

Jay

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Disco Infertile

I’ve spent most of the morning thinking of titles of infertility themed Disco songs. Why, you may ask? It could be one of two reasons:

1. I like annoying my husband by singing, “Someone Left the Clomid in the Rain”.

2. I’ve gotten some funk back in my life.

Who am I kidding? It’s both.

This past week, we went to see a new doctor for what would be our third opinion. Whenever I think of the word “opinion”, I always think of the quote, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."

I love and hate this quote. I love it because it reminds us that an opinion is just that: a judgment call by one person that you can either accept as truth or reject as subjective. I hate it because it makes me think of people’s assholes and that’s an image I could do without.

Just as a brief recap for those who are new followers of my blog: I’m a writer and sometimes stand-up comic who has been trying to get pregnant for exactly two years. We have no clear reason for our fertility issues (other than the universe is entertained by our torment). In addition to unprotected sex & Barry White music, we’ve tried three inseminations using Clomid. All three of these inseminations somehow were around national holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and the last one was on Valentine’s Day. They all failed. So much for having a Christmas miracle. Feliz Big Fat Negative.

Then, we did my first invitro last April with the same doctor who did all of our inseminations. I produced 5 eggs and 3 embryos. Not only did the IVF not work, but after everything was said and done, we found out that A) this doctor was probably not our best option to go with and B) I had a uterine polyp (a.k.a. “Jackson Polyp”). It became clear that both Doctor #1 and the polyp needed to be removed from our lives and my uterus.

Most recently, I just did my second IVF (a.k.a. “IVF 2 – Electric Boogaloo”) with Doctor #2 through a clinical trial. That produced 11 eggs, 10 mature (the 11th egg apparently wanted to play video games while crashing on his dad’s couch), but we only had one embryo to transfer. We lovingly referred to it as “Rudy” after the football player, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who is famous for wanting to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Needless to say, Rudy fumbled big time and failed to score a touchdown and I got my period. When we had our WTF Meeting with Doctor #2 after the clinical trial, we were given no explanation as to what went wrong other than, “Wow. It sucks to be you!

Ok, not his exact words but close enough.

So, with one polyp, two years of trying, three inseminations and two failed IVF’s behind us, we were left with no answers, explanations or suggestions other than we should try another invitro. This time though, we would be paying for it entirely ourselves and the thought of spending money on something that hasn’t worked for us so far just felt wrong. It was nagging at me so much that despite the fact that I still think that Doctor #2 has done nothing horribly wrong, I decided to seek out yet another opinion.

A few people thought this was overkill as how many opinions can you get? Still, when it comes to my uterus, I’m interested in almost everyone’s opinion. You never know what a pair of fresh eyes can bring to your case and frankly, if I’m using my entire savings account to fund something, I want to feel good about it. The main thing that was haunting me was when I asked Doctor #2 after the clinical trial, “What would you do differently with IVF #3?” and he answered with, “I would do my standard protocol.” Standard? Really? We haven’t learned absolutely anything from the past two years that we would do differently? Really?????

Look – I’m no doctor. I’ve never even played one on television but one thing I do know is I’m not standard. No one is. One size does NOT fit all when it comes to fertility. I want my invitros like I want my mouthguard: designed specifically with me in mind.

So last Tuesday, we went to Doctor #3 thinking we would keep an open mind and see what she has to say but ultimately, we weren’t expecting much in the way of explanations. We told her our history and she went through all our records. As my husband put it, it’s not that she gave us answers, but she gave us ideas. Because my follicles grow at different rates, she suggested I start an estrogen patch (of some sort) before we even begin our next invitro as this would make things grow at the same speed. This would hopefully give us more eggs for IVF #3. She also said that because I’m thirty-seven, she’d highly recommend I use Menopur (another infertility themed Disco song: “It’s Raining Menopur”). She said that it doesn’t seem to help much if you’re under 35 but if you’re over 35, it can do wonders. I’m not sure how or why... nor do I care. If it helps a woman at my age, then I’ll do it.

She also felt that my husband’s sperm was an issue. Even though it’s considered normal, it’s still on the low side. She confirmed that in putting all of this together, another invitro was definitely the way to go. The last two suggestions she had was for both of us to lose more weight (which I’ve been doing anyway) and that I get a specific test that takes measurements of my uterus so that they will better know where to place future embryos.

Now THIS was a plan. These were all things no one had suggested before and these suggestions were specifically for us based on our history. It didn’t explain why we hadn’t gotten pregnant but it tweaked what we had one in the past, added ways we could do things better in the future and it just seemed more personalized to us. And just like that, we decided to switch doctors.

As I took a shower that night, I thought about the money we’re going to spending on this. It still sucks and we’re still several thousand short but I feel so much better about spending my money on this plan than the “standard protocol”.

As I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, I realized something else: I was proud of myself for getting another opinion. After our experience with the Doctor #1, I was glad that I learned from it. I don’t want to ever look back again and think, “I should have done more.” It’s true that this new plan and new doctor comes with no guarantees but at least I feel like we’re using what has happened in the past and applying it to the future. Dammit – I need to feel like we’re moving forward and not just doing the same ol’ shit over and over again! With the addition of a new test, an estrogen patch, Menopur and even progesterone oil shots (I’ve only ever done suppositories before), this is different and in the words of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, “Anything different is good.

And speaking of praise, I thought about how I was after our latest invitro failed. The clinical trial was all consuming. It entailed daily blood work, sonograms, injections with mystery hormones and the extreme disappointment of not only producing one embryo but that the one embryo didn’t implant. It occurred to me recently that the day after we found out that we were not pregnant, I got up, got dressed and went to work. That week, I made lunch plans with friends, I did several stand-up shows, I got back on Weight Watchers, I went to social events and I got on with my life. Those who read my blog regularly know I don’t say this often but I’m proud of myself for that. It hurt tremendously, I still complained and I definitely had a few, “I’m going to stay in bed and cry” moments but overall, I didn’t lie down and die… even though I wanted to.

I don’t deserve a medal or anything like that but we all need to take a moment and acknowledge when we show some serious strength. When it comes to infertility, we focus so much on what went wrong, or how we wish we could do this, that or the other thing better, that we forget what we did right, you know?

Since so many of you have been regular readers of my blog and have always been so beyond incredibly supportive, I want to thank you by suggesting two things:

1. If you’re struggling with any medical issues (fertility or non-fertility related), please, PLEASE get another opinion if you’re not happy with what you’ve heard so far. Don’t settle when it comes to your health especially if you have insurance and get a consultation covered. You never know who will shed some light on your situation and it’s so important for you to be your own advocate.

And 2. Please take a moment after reading this entry and give yourself credit for something you did recently that you’re proud of. I don’t care what it’s related to or what it is. Even if it’s, “I managed not to strangle my mother-in-law today”. Find something that you know you did a good job with or that you showed courage in. Please even feel free to post it here in my comments. Be proud and post loud!

I leave you with two Disco songs that already have appropriately named titles: Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive” and Michael Jackson’s, “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”.

There’s also “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste Of Honey but other than a funky baseline, I’m not sure how motivational it is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lord of the NuvaRing: Fellowship of the Infertiles

Last week, I emailed the clinic we’ve been working with about IVF #3. For the record, I never thought I’d ever need one invitro let alone three. My reproductive saga appears to have become a trilogy: Lord of the NuvaRing.

The subject line of my email was “IVF Financial Breakdown” and it was to inquire how much a third invito would cost since this time, we would be completely financially responsible for it all. Oy, I say. Oy.

I received a response that said sonograms, doctor visits, retrieval and transfer would roughly be around $11,000. If we did ICSY, which the doctor already told us we’d have to, that would add on a little over $2000. Then, there’s the cost of all the medications and anesthesia. The more I read, the more I realized that what I wrote in the subject related more to my impending emotional state. I was on the verge of having an actual IVF Financial Breakdown.

We have been putting money aside for awhile now but we estimate that we’re still $5000 short. The more I thought about that, the more I wished I could have given up infertility for Lent.

Just a quick related side note: A girlfriend of mine said to me recently that they like when celebrities who have had fertility issues end up having kids because it makes her more hopeful. To be clear, I deeply respect when any celebrity is open about their struggles to conceive. It lets the ignorant fertile world know that this is a real issue that many people struggle with. So, of course any time anyone who has struggled with infertility is able to have a happy ending, I’m happy for them. However, saying that their success story provides me hope isn’t necessarily accurate as let’s face it -- they can AFFORD hope. They can pay any price to see the best doctors in a timely manner. They have the money to do seven invitros in between record albums. They can pay for the best lawyers to do a quick adoption from the country of their choice. They can hire a woman to carry their twins all while they walk the red carpet. Me? I currently can’t even afford the super nice digital ovulation predication kits.

Anyway, I emailed the clinic back and included my doctor, his assistant and the billings manager. I thanked all of them for giving me the financial information and I explained that we simply couldn’t afford it at this time but I’d be in touch as soon as we got the money. After I hit send, I made a list of all the relatives I have that may have money and who seemed sick the last time I saw them. I made a note to call the select few to tell them how much I’ve always loved them. Hey – don’t judge.

One good thing that came out of my IVF Financial Breakdown was it prompted me to schedule what will now be our third opinion. Sam and I figured that if we’re going to spend our entire savings on something that hasn’t worked for us so far, getting yet another opinion couldn’t hurt. Luckily, the doctor we’re seeing not only came highly recommended but she takes our insurance for the consultation part. We’re seeing her tomorrow morning.

This past weekend, I had a lot of time to think about all of this; the money, getting a third opinion, the last two years, etc. I was on the road and there isn’t much else to do but listen to some music, stare out at the highway ahead of you and wonder what the f*ck is wrong with your uterus.

As some of you know, I perform stand-up comedy from time to time. I haven’t performed for several months now to focus on my reproductive pursuits but when I knew that our last IVF failed, I though some comedy was in order. What better way to get over a recent disappointment then to complain about it to total strangers while they enjoy a two drink minimum?

So I booked a whole bunch of shows and my husband and I drove from one town to another. As I zoned out and looked out the window, images flashed through my head. I saw me on the side of a road looking homeless with a cardboard sign that read, “Will work for hormone shots”.

I remembered the warning label on my progesterone cream that said, “Keep out of reach of children”. Umm, if I HAD children, I wouldn’t need the effen progesterone cream.

I wondered if they’ll ever come out with coupons for fertility. “Clip this coupon for a free HCG shot!

And strangely enough, I thought about one of Jim Carrey’s costumes in the movie, BATMAN FOREVER. It’s a green body suit with question marks all over it. That’s exactly how I feel these days: One big ol’ question mark (although in reality, I’m shaped more like the number ‘8’.).

I don’t know why I can’t get pregnant. I don’t know where I’m going to get $5000 from. I don’t know what went wrong with my most recent IVF and I don’t know if I’m ever going to have kids. My whole existence feels so unclear that I’d actually wear this “question mark body suit” except for the fact that I’d look more like an infertile pickle then The Riddler.

Here’s the thing: I think we all go through periods of denial when dealing with infertility. We think ‘This can’t go on forever! I mean, this is going to work out, right? This is me and I’m fabulous! Of course this is going to end wonderfully!’ And we keep hope alive because we have to. Well, I guess we don’t have to but we do it because we should but if my blog seems a bit more whinier lately (is ‘whinier’ a word?), it’s because I think my denial is wearing off. It’s finally hitting me that this whole ‘getting pregnant thing’ isn’t going well (in case you haven’t noticed). Lord knows I’ve complained about it enough and I’ve certainly had times where I’ve considered what life would be like if I never became a mother but this past weekend while in the car, I found myself thinking, “Jay – You genuinely may not be capable of having children. This may never happen for you.

Now, as depressing and heavy as that thought is (true or not) and as much as my quest to get pregnant has become like the actual LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy (too long and utterly confusing), I do want to end today’s blog entry on a positive note.

Yes, things are not great right now. Yes, my hope has taken a huge mother f*cking hit and yes, I’m on the verge of losing a butt load of money on something that comes with no guarantees. I admit all this but here are two things I realized this weekend that DON’T suck:

1. One of the best things that hit me this weekend (when I wasn’t thinking of Jim Carrey or that I may forever be barren) is that I may be a pessimist, but I’m at least a pessimist with a great attitude.

And 2. This weekend was the first time I discussed things related to fertility on stage and it was fantastic. I don’t come out and get into all our issues because I’m not sure how much people want to hear about sperm morphology while eating nachos, but I got into it enough where it made me feel free. It was like saying to the world, “This is who I am. This is what I’ve been struggling with and god dammit, we’re all going to laugh at it together.”

And you know what? Everyone did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Terminal Two Week Wait

It was March 2009 that I started trying to get pregnant. I had no idea when I began this journey that my “two week wait” would become two years. What’s worse is these ‘two week waits’ are feeling more and more like they are terminal. It’s like I’m in a permanent state of waiting to see what happens next and I hate it. I don’t even like to wait on the line for Starbucks. I want my latte and go. When it comes to having a baby, it’s the same kind of thing: I just want to get pregnant, have my baby and get on with my life. (Not that I mean to compare a baby with a latte, although let’s face it -- both keep you awake.)

In my early months of trying to conceive, I’d get discouraged and maybe a little down from time to time. However, after trying to get pregnant for two years and after having two failed IVF’s (my own version of the “terrible two’s”), I can’t help but think, “Wow. This REALLY is bordering on a total disaster, huh?” And when you have no reason for the lack of success, no diagnosis and no explanation, the road ahead isn’t just a little bumpy. It’s long, poorly lit, laden with pot holes and utterly endless.

I did see my doctor for the infamous “What The F*ck Appointment” and the only explanation he could give with regards to our recent IVF is that we just had bad luck. If they had ten couples at the clinic that day, one of the couples would have to get screwed statistically and it would seem that couple is us. I guess we took one for the infertile team that day. You’re welcome nine lucky couples. Now, can you loan us $5000?

Frankly, it always seems like we’re the doomed ones. My husband and I seem to be exceptional… but in an unlucky way. We had an unusually horrible rain storm on our wedding day (despite the fact that it hadn’t rained on our wedding date for the previous 30 years), our first doctor missed a uterine polyp that was practically giving him the finger in all of my sonograms, our insurance company broke up with us, our house got hit by lightning last year and we can’t get pregnant despite the fact that both of us are healthy. I know that things could always be worse and in the grand scheme of things, nothing TOO horrible has happened. I am grateful for that. Besides, if you ask my husband who is way more of an optimist than I, he points out that our wedding day was the greatest day of his life, that the uterine polyp had his own fan club (Yay Jackson Polyp!), and we would have never discovered the wonderful world of Blu-Ray or High Definition television if it weren't for the lightning frying our antiquated electronics. However, I still can’t help but feel like we’re the equivalent of a negative miracle.

Despite the many setbacks and despite my suspicion that we are cursed, I am committed to forge ahead with some level of enthusiasm. One thing making it a smidge difficult for me is I sense that some of my friends are beginning to get bored with our efforts or they feel we should simply move on. As a fan of the shows 48 HOURS and DATELINE, I’ve seen many an interview with a mother, father or couple whose child has been missing for years and people tell them, “Look, it’s been 10 years. You’re not going to find them so you should get on with your lives.” The parents of these missing children never take too kindly to this suggestion and rightfully so. They want to know where their child is. They need their child back… or at the very least, some answers as to what happened to him or her. And that’s how I feel whenever someone says, “Maybe having kids just isn’t in the cards for you.” It’s like they are telling me to stop looking for my missing child.

Is that overdramatic? Well, probably yes, but I’m still a bit hormonal (thanks progesterone!) and that’s how it feels. It especially stings when friends who have children tell me that perhaps I should consider doing other things with my life. That’s pretty easy for them to say, isn’t it? It reminds me of the scene in THE AVIATOR where Katherine Hepburn’s mother says to Howard Hughes, “We don’t care about money here Mr. Hughes.” And he responds with, “That’s because you have it.”

Of course I know that people are always well-intentioned. I also don’t mean to imply that if you have children, you never have anything helpful to say or that you can’t be supportive. I have quite a few people in my life who are parents and who have never experienced fertility issues that have been beyond loving and comforting. It’s just when anyone tells me, whether they themselves are parents or not, that maybe it’s time to give up, that I can’t help but want to tap dance on their windpipe.

The other night, I was out to dinner at a family restaurant. I was looking around the room and studying all the people with kids or babies thinking about all the things I may never know. What it’s like to see a positive pregnancy test. The pride you feel when you tell people you’re expecting. The joy of feeling your baby kick for the first time. Having a baby shower. Getting a nursery ready. Giving birth. Sending out baby announcements. The first year of being a mom. Their first word. When they go off to kindergarten. And so on and so on. Even though I was sitting at a table inside the restaurant, I might as well have been outside on the street looking in through the window at all the families. That’s how separate I felt from the experience. It was a happy family restaurant filled with happy fertile families. Pathetic, unlucky infertiles aren’t allowed. Hmmmm. Come to think of it... I wonder if they should have an infertile section at restaurants? That's not a bad idea.

The one comfort in all this is thanks to my mystery fertility issues, I may also never get to know what it's like to have your 14 year old daughter come home with a new piercing and a 20 year old boyfriend… so that’s something.

All in all, I’m not ready to give up. More importantly, as bad as our luck has been, we have never been told that’s its impossible. As I said in my last blog entry, until someone says that we can never have children or until I’m dead, I’m going to do my best to have a family one way or another.

At this moment, the plan is to go ahead with IVF #3. The doctor says we could start again as early as next month but we’re thinking we may wait another month or so to get all our infertile ducks in a row. I’m back on Weight Watchers, we’re putting as much money as we can into our savings account and we’re looking into getting yet another opinion (just to be safe). I don’t know if this is going to go on another two years, if we’ll have another two IVF’s or if we will ever have the happy ending we imagined but we’re moving ahead with hope and humor.

Hope and humor...