Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Hard Stuff

Month 2 of Clomid was not successful. Although I really tried with all my heart not to get my hopes up, I did, and I cannot help but be overwhelmingly sad. Although I am sure some will try to comfort me with the fact that it is only our 2nd month on Clomid, it is actually month 15 of trying to get pregnant. Today, I am feeling the weight of every single disappointment we’ve had in this journey over the past 15 months.

So today, I am allowing myself to be as sad and pitiful as I want to be. My door at work has been closed all day so that I can alternate between working and crying at my leisure. Thankfully, there has been no continuous sobbing, which would then produce the swollen, red eyes and way too many questions from kind-hearted co-workers. But really, on the sad days like today, all I want to do is take an all-day hot bath (or sit in a hot tub) and eat pints of Ben & Jerry’s. In fact, I believe that Ben & Jerry’s could make a lot of money by offering special blends of ice-cream for disappointment, PMS, break-ups, bad work days, bad family days, bad marriage days and bad friend days. These types of ice cream may have to be on the upper shelves at local grocery stores due to the equal parts of alcohol, ice cream and chocolate that they would contain. The concentrations of alcohol, chocolate and ice cream would be determined based on the overall suckiness of the life situation. The “PMS” blend, for example, may contain more chocolate than alcohol or ice cream, whereas the “My Boss Is a Jerk” blend would contain more alcohol. My personal blend of Ben & Jerry’s would be entitled “Why the ^&(&^$%$ can’t I get pregnant?!!!!” and contain 90% alcohol and 10% chocolate/ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s marketing representatives, if you are reading, I have many more blend ideas should you need them.

By tomorrow, I will be gearing myself up for month 3 of Clomid. I start Clomid on day 5 of my period, and continue to take it for 5 consecutive days (5 is apparently a number that holds some magical, unknown fertility powers). Time once again to start peeing on sticks and charting in the wee hours of the morning, making naked bathroom to kitchen dashes and fluffing pillows at night. The hope that month 3 is THE month in which I will be able to get pregnant will also start to come back…eventually.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Waiting Room

It’s safe to assume your local OB/GYN office prides themselves on knowing women – in and out. After all, upon arrival, you are presented with a questionnaire that demands not only information about your personal experience with practically every medical situation known to man, but also detailed information about your sex life. Upon completion of the lengthy questionnaire (20 minutes later), you are then weighed, usually in the middle of the hallway, for everyone and their mom to see. As my own personal form of revenge of the hallway-scale- humiliation, I practically get naked before getting on that medically accurate down to the half-pound scale. The nurse is then forced to help me carry all my items of clothing, shoes and jewelry to the doctor’s office. Ha! Take that!

Despite having the most intimate and secretive information about me, my OB/GYN office fails to know the most basic fact about me, and all other childless women ages 18-50: what we want to READ while waiting for the hallway-scale-humiliation and the subsequent unpleasant experiences that come with any visit to the OB/GYN. From the magazines offered in my OB/GYN’s office, women must fall into only 2 categories: mothers (who presumably only want to read about their children) and women going through menopause. For the mothers so focused on their children that they want to read every parenting magazine available, there are several options:

1. Parenting (apparently the most respectable and loved of the parenting magazines since a complete set of issues from 2005-2008 is available);
2. Kiwi (raising children organically);
3. Parents;
4. American Baby;
5. Fit Pregnancy;
6. Parent and Child; and
7. Working Mother.

Those going through menopause have just one option, “Pause” (very, very clever name).

Where are the interesting magazines - People, Us, Vogue, Shape and InStyle? Is the receptionist hogging them all at the front desk, afraid that she too will be forced to read the 7 versions of parenting magazines or “Pause” in a moment of boredom? Next time I am at one of my now bi-monthly OB/GYN visits, I’m bringing my own magazines and leaving them for the next childless woman age 18-50. At least I will have afforded her the opportunity to get caught up on the latest trends and celebrity gossip before she is stripped of her dignity in the hallway-scale-humiliation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Three Plans

I credit my dad for passing along the gene of ultra-planning. Although Stan (my father) values daily planning, through daily, monthly and yearly lists, much more than I do, there is still a little part of me that needs to have a plan. It should be noted that one plan is not sufficient in my world. I need to have three plans – a short-term plan, a long term plan and an alternative plan. I reject the term “Plan B”, because often times I like the alternative plan just as much as I like the original short-term or long-term plan. Usually the alternative plan is just one that is less immediately feasible, and will take more work to fulfill. Brandon (my husband) is kind enough to indulge my need for the three plans with regard to our finances, home, careers, and now in our family planning.

The Short-Term Plan

The short-term plan is that the Clomid will work and we will be able to conceive a biological child. My doctor’s limitation for Clomid is 6 months, so that is our window for conceiving. Brandon and I decided together that Clomid is the only means of reproductive aid that we will utilize. No hormone shots, no IVF. I am proud of our decision and stand by it 100%. We have several friends who have conceived beautiful babies using IVF, and I could not respect them more for making that choice. It is a hard decision to make and not an easy process to go through.

The Long-Term Plan

If we are unable to conceive within the 6 months on Clomid, we will take 6 months off to let our hearts and bodies heal. This was hard for me. I want a child so badly that even putting our alternative plan off by a day is going to be hard. However, I think everyone who has seen Angry Anna will agree that 6 months to get the evil Clomid out of my body is necessary. It might also take 6 months to get used to not having butt-propped-up-on-the-pillows sex and for me to become accustomed to not peeing on a variety of sticks first thing in the morning. No more naked dashes from the bathroom to the kitchen! I’m sure my neighbors will be thankful. I have in mind several trips to take during those 6 months… They include: Hershey, Pennsylvania (I think it only fair to visit the American birthplace of my favorite food), New York (for shopping at its best), Las Vegas (preferably with my girlfriends so that there can be lots of dancing and laying out in the sun – neither are favorites of Brandon), and maybe, Paris (my favorite city of the places I’ve been). It should be noted that the three plans for each area of my life sometimes conflict with one another. For example, the long-term family planning plan and the long-term financial plan might not be in agreement over the plethora of trips I plan to take in 6 months, but the family planning plan is in the spotlight for the purposes of this blog, and the financial plan is just the boring and way too practical older brother.

The Alternative Plan

International adoption. I have my heart set on Columbia, for practical, and maybe a tinge of superficial, reasons as well. For the practical, Columbia is the country where we can get the youngest child (3-6 months old), which is appealing since we have never had a baby before, and want to experience as many phases of our child’s life as possible. For the superficial reason, it is fun to think about my child having an olive skin tone, with big brown eyes and dark hair, not characteristics that our biological child would likely have coming from pasty Irish and Scottish-gened persons, both with light eyes and light hair. International adoption is expensive, which is why it is the alternative plan. I like it just as much as having a biological child, but with adoption comes homestudies and large, upfront costs at certain stages. Brandon and I would also be required to stay in Columbia for up to 6 weeks. I still see the flashes of terror across Brandon’s eyes when he recalls his experiences as a passenger in our 2 car rides in the Dominican Republic on our honeymoon. As this is his only international driving experience (which seems to be one of the predominant memories from our honeymoon), I think it scares him a little bit to think we may be dealing with those kind of car rides on a daily basis for 6 weeks. From the research I have done online, Columbia is a beautiful country and very historically rich. I have never had the opportunity to visit any central or southern American countries. To me, this trip sounds amazing and one that I would no doubt want to make again when our child is old enough to want to learn about his/her home country.

I find solace in knowing that no matter which of the plans in the family planning category will become “The Plan”, I will be a mom. In the “Life After Limbo Plan” (that’s right – there’s one of those as well), I envision myself walking to school hand-in-hand with 2 versions of children. One is blonde, blue-eyed with my laugh and Brandon’s eyes, is bubbly and vivacious and excited to start kindergarten. The other has dark hair and beautiful brown eyes, the complexion that my dreams are made of, is bubbly and vivacious and excited to start kindergarten. Either way, I envision myself as feeling extraordinarily happy and fortunate… I can’t wait. But waiting is the name of the game when living Life in Limbo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reality Sets In

This was not how getting pregnant was supposed to be. You get married to the person you love, you buy a house (or move into the one he so wisely purchased before you got married), you get a dog as a “trial” to make sure that you are both patient enough to have kids (or deal with the one he already had for several years before you – which requires even more patience), you make sure you’ve traveled enough, slept in enough, had enough couple time, and then you have that magical baby-making sex and you get pregnant. Sure, maybe you have to try for a couple of months, do a little charting and what not, but within 6 months, you figure you’re going to be glowing, pregnant and over the moon. That’s exactly how I thought it would work. I’m young, I’m healthy and I’m ready to have a baby…why shouldn’t I be able to get pregnant? Unfortunately, life is unfair sometimes with no rhyme or reason, especially not when it comes to infertility.

Our baby-making efforts are obviously much different than I expected or imagined. Instead, we have been trying for well over a year to get pregnant, are on month 2 of 6 on Clomid and experiencing what I call “living in limbo.” The magical baby-making sex is now very planned, right down to the position (trust me, none of the fun ones) and involves my butt being propped up on an ungodly amount of pillows for optimum swimage. As if the butt-in-the-air isn’t humiliating enough, our world also now revolves around my monthly cycle. In fact, I have never been so aware of my cycle as I have become over the past two months. And with the general awareness also comes the endless charting… Charting of the length, flow and discomfort level with the period, length and discomfort of the ovulation cycle, amount and timing of sex… One of my personal favorites is that the ovulation and pregnancy tests need to be taken first thing in the morning when all you really want to do is get in the damn shower. Instead, I find myself peeing on at least 7-8 varying sticks throughout the course of my cycle, waiting the requisite 3-5 minutes until my digital ovulation/pregnancy tests give me the fool-proof evidence that I am/am not ovulating or am/am not pregnant. Then there comes the recording of these digital test findings which have on more than one occasion caused me to run from the bathroom to the kitchen naked to look for a pen. How do the pens disappear even from the bathroom? There is humor to be found in these situations, although it is harder to find some days than others. I often smile at the sight of my husband coming into the bathroom, still groggy from sleep, and the first thing out of his mouth is “Did you get a smiley face today?” (the smiley face is the read-out from the digital ovulation kit when you are in fact ovulating…Yes, that’s right, back to grade school, where your body is given a smiley face if it is cooperating). I don’t think I ever imagined my husband, a man’s man – loves the outdoors, fishing, hunting and sports, becoming so engrossed in my cycle - and that makes me smile. At least it does on the days that I am not in an angry Clomid rage. On the “Angry Anna” days, nothing about this process makes me smile. In fact, those around me should feel lucky if I have not snapped, yelled or hit them on the Angry Anna days. So far no one has been mortally injured, but I can’t make any promises. It’s only month 2.

Blogging feels like the modern, much more public version of a diary. I have never had my own blog before, but other blogs regarding infertility have inspired me and confirmed that just because I have Clomid-induced Angry Anna days, or days where the thought of not being able to get pregnant is so sad and overwhelming, that I am not alone in this struggle. I hope that this blog will help me (& others) to more easily find the daily humor in trying to get pregnant.