Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Help! The dryer's shrinking my clothes.

Every pair of pants that I buy becomes too tight after a few months.
To avoid the most obvious conclusion, I theorized that the dryer must be too hot, and it was shrinking everything. I also have a tendency to buy tighter clothes when I feel more confident in my appearance, and looser clothes when I feel fat and frumpy. (I even buy smaller or larger shoes.)
But last week I went to Eddie Bauer to buy some new pants, and the only ones that fit me comfortably loose were size 12! There's nothing wrong with size 12, but that's the size my mom wears!
In 2003 I could squeeze into a size six. I was even forced to admit a couple years ago that size eight was unflatteringly small. Then I promised myself last year that I couldn't buy any more size 10 pants. Instead I had to use what I had until I could fit into an eight again. And now size twelve! Nooo!


I am torn between wanting to share with others what I am going through, and wishing I hadn't. That's why I haven't told anyone about this blog yet.
I take a foreign language class once a week, and the class is very small and the other students (all women) and I have been in the class for a few years. I dropped out of the class because one of the other women in the class was pregnant.
It took her eight months to conceive, but before she conceived, I enjoyed having someone in the class who was sort of going through the same thing as I was. (Two of the other students had babies a year earlier.)
Once she did conceive, I felt like she and the other students all pitied me and I couldn't go anymore.
I don't know if I will go back next year or not.

The Magic Bullet

I still think there must be one simple thing that will solve all my infertility problems. Perhaps I am exposed to a chemical at work, so if I find a new job my problems will be solved. Or perhaps I have a thyroid deficiency, and if I can persuade a doctor to give me the whole gamut of thyroid tests, the problem will be discovered and treated.
Realistically, I should accept that there is unlikely to be a simple solution like that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No longer forbidden

These are the things I couldn’t do for the two years that I was trying to get pregnant:

Go running (my heartbeat might go above 100 beats per minute)
Ride my bike to work (same reason)
Eat blue cheese or brie (listeria)
Go out for sushi (also listeria)
Go gambling in Reno (second-hand smoke)
Ride rollercoasters (too much movement)
Drink wine (alcohol)
Soak in the hot tub (too much heat)
Color my hair (chemicals)
Drink black tea (caffeine)
Eat chocolate (more caffeine)

Worst of all, I couldn’t be happy! I would drag myself through work and school, trying to stay away from people because I knew I had a horrible attitude. I would come home and try to be cordial to A. while we ate supper, but all I wanted to do was go to bed and cry. I couldn’t even find a private place to cry alone- a major drawback to being married.

Now that the Clomid is out of my system, or maybe just because I’m not putting any more restrictions on myself, I have found happiness again. Not constant happiness, but generally happy sometime for weeks. It is so wonderful!

The number one reason that I don’t want to resume treatment is that I don’t want to be that unhappy ever again!

Everyone is suffering

Everyone suffers for one reason or another, and to that person, their suffering seems worse than everyone else’s suffering.

I just found out that a friend of mine is pregnant again after her first miscarriage. I’m sure she suffered significantly with the loss of her first pregnancy, and is suffering even more now, worrying about this one.

I envy her. If you have a miscarriage, doctors take you more seriously. They can examine your tissue and possibly determine the cause. If you have never conceived, after a while doctors get tired of you and really just wish you would go see someone else because they don't know what else to try.

But then I think about my sister, who might never even have a chance to have children because of her chemo. How can I complain when her problems are so much worse than mine?

There is no justice or reason to what we are dealt in life. We just need to find strength to deal with our own personal pain.

Big waste of money #2

My chiropractor is nice- don’t get me wrong. I just don’t understand how straightening my spine is going to help my overall health. I didn’t have patience to continue going after months of treatment that I couldn’t tell had accomplished anything.

At first, she had me visit three times a week!!! (Each visit cost $50 and wasn’t covered by insurance.) After eight weeks I was down to twice a week, and then once a week. Then I gave up. I should have cut my losses sooner and not continued to waste all that money.

In my opinion, the only worthwhile part of the visit was the $10 extra I paid per visit for a “prep” massage. Those were so addictive that I wondered how I would survive without them on vacation!

Big waste of money #1

When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I thought it was a venereal disease. My gynecologist handed me a pamphlet, but didn’t offer any guidance on how to deal with it. I searched for help with Dr. Google. I had known someone who successfully treated her endo by working with a nutritionist, but all the nutritionists at my clinic focused on diabetes and weight loss. Then I found someone who advertised “integrative health." This seemed like the right track!

The consultation cost $150. After all sorts of tests conducted with a machine and a metal wand poked into my palm, she said that I had heavy metal poisoning from my silver fillings, I should avoid wheat flour, and I was allergic to everything except beef and broccoli. She also prescribed $250 worth of pills and liquids that I could only buy from her.

I did (and do) try to avoid wheat flour, but not at the expense of pasta. My dentist refused to remove my silver fillings. And at the time I saw her, I hadn't eaten beef in over two years due to fears of BSE.

Friday, April 11, 2008

To Tell Or Not To Tell

What do you say when people ask if you plan to have children?

I really want to tell the truth- we have been trying for 32 months and gone through 7 cycles of IUI with Clomid (12 IUIs total), without any "signs of life" (as B puts it), so we may never have children. I want to tell the truth because bottling it up inside is killing me. I want to tell the truth because unless people start talking about infertility, nobody will ever realize how common it is. I want to tell the truth because I want to meet other women with the same problem. And I want to tell the truth so that other infertile women know that they aren't alone.

The best non-committal answer I can come up with is, "Perhaps someday." But I dread the most likely response, "You're already 37. You can't wait much longer."

The problem is, people who ask are never people who have trouble conceiving. If they had had trouble, they would realize what a touchy question that is.

So, instead I end up embarrassing the question asker, who is completely taken off guard by my response. They deal with the shock by giving well-meaning but useless advice:
You drink coffee, don't you? Maybe if you stopped...
Do you know that your fertile period is between days 9 and 14 of your cycle?
Never give up...
Buy a new car. Our daughter was having trouble, but as soon as they bought a truck that they didn't need, it cleared up.

Causing my own bad luck

Years ago, when I worked near Union Square in SF, I overheard a woman who had recently given birth rave about how Cocoa Butter Body Butter from the Body Shop had prevented her from getting stretch marks. Since then, I planned to buy that as soon as I became pregnant.

I had also read that learning-disabled babies needed encouragement to explore the world. It seemed reasonable that all babies would benefit from that. So, I planned to make a baby blanket using many differently-textured types of fabrics.

The first month that we started trying, I bought Cocoa Butter Body Butter from the Body Shop, and I bought a sewing machine.

I didn't start reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting" because that seemed a little too hopeful.

But then I didn't get pregnant, that month or any month after.

I gave away the body butter in the hopes of breaking the curse, but I still have the sewing machine.

Could it have finally happened?

Your breasts are sore to the touch, you feel funny pangs in your abdomen, you are so tired that you go to sleep at 8pm, you eat twice as much as normal and still feel hungry...

These signs can only point to one thing: pregnancy.

But then your period starts just like it always has. Not even late.

How infertility books end

A woman in my support group (one of the ones who still isn't pregnant) had recently read the book "Waiting for Daisy." When she finished she was so angry that she threw it across the room.

I had enjoyed the book, but I understand her frustration. Books about infertility invariably end with pregnancy. I have never read a book where the major character ends up adopting or lives child-free. Why is that? Is it too anticlimactic or depressing for a publisher to accept it? I would really like to read about someone who doesn't have a baby, and moves on with her life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What would you name yourself?

In college, one of my dorm mates was becoming a US citizen, and as part of that process she had the option to choose a new name. If you could choose your own name, what would it be?

My real name is unusual, and I like that because people don’t have any pre-conceived notions of what a person with my name is supposed to be like. However, I get tired of spelling my name anytime someone needs to write it down, and my name seems sort of childish to me.

But choosing your own name would be difficult- like deciding what image you want tattooed on your body for the rest of your life.

It’s a good thing our parents take care of it for us.

Everything happens for a Reason

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t yet know the reason for my infertility, but it will be clear when I look back in five or ten years.

Perhaps I have breast cancer that doesn’t yet show up on a mammogram. Finding out you have breast cancer while you are pregnant would be horrible- do you undergo chemo and risk harming your baby, or do you postpone it and risk your own health?

Maybe I am having trouble now to make me a stronger person and better appreciate the life that I do end up with.

On the scale of human suffering, infertility is pretty minor. I haven’t lived in a war zone, I haven’t lost any close family members to violence, I haven’t been divorced, I haven’t had any miscarriages, I haven’t been homeless... I am really quite fortunate!


What do you fill in as 'occupation' on your income tax return? I have a job, not a career, so I don't identify myself by my job. I have written 'wanderer' and 'undecided' in the past. This year I tried to write 'unknown,' but B objected.
Why does the IRS ask this?

How bad do you want it?

When I was meeting with a support group for infertile couples, I remember thinking that it would be okay if I didn't get pregnant, as long as the other women in the group did, because they wanted it so much more than I did.

When I think of having children, what I look forward to is the enthusiasm and wonderment that children feel when they do something new or exciting. I don't look forward to disciplining, changing diapers, or even holding a baby.

Is there something wrong with me that I don't want a baby that much?

Maybe I should just get a pet.

Breast Cancer

My 33-year-old sister (four years younger than me) was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. It was such a shock to everyone, and for about four weeks I didn’t think about infertility at all. Not being able to conceive just doesn’t seem important in the perspective of surviving cancer.

She is fortunate in so many ways- she is small-breasted so she found the lump by accident when it was still small, she has a tremendous amount of support from friends and strangers, she has great insurance, and she is single without children.

She also doesn’t have to go to work for five months. During her last week of work, she mentioned that she is almost looking forward to chemo since it means she won’t have to chase after five-year-olds with runny noses.

Support Group

I joined a support group for couples coping with infertility. We were six women and two men. Within two months of the official group finishing, three of the women had become pregnant, and we stopped our informal meetings because there were only two couples attending.

They should form different support groups depending on how long you have been trying.

Do you have a blog?

At a party in January, a woman asked me if I had a blog. The way she asked, it sounded like she thought having a blog was as normal as owning a telephone. “What a funny question,” I thought. “What on earth would I have to write about?”

Then in January my sister (33-years old) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started a blog to keep everyone updated about her treatments. I started reading her blog, and all the blogs she linked to (all her friends’ blogs) and soon it didn’t seem like such a strange thing to do.

Friday, April 4, 2008

People I wish I hadn’t told

The only person I wish I hadn’t told is my coworker, and that is partly because I don't like her and regret sharing personal information with her. She was one of the first people I told, and she was the person who suggested that I might not realize that my fertile time is between day 9 and 14 of my cycle. I resent her luck in getting pregnant the first month she tried, for both her pregnancies.

I heard that her sister had trouble conceiving, and recently gave birth to twins through a medical-assisted method, so perhaps my coworker is a little more sensitive now.

Talking Behind My Back

It’s really ideal if you can tell someone that you are having trouble conceiving. My sister has a large group of friends, but none of them ever ask us when we plan to have children. I think it’s because they asked her first.

We didn’t tell my parents-in-law, but we did tell my brother-in-law, who told his wife, who told her father (a retired gynecologist) and I think the word got around to my husband’s parents because they never ask anymore.

My aunts don’t ask either.

We do receive the occasional awkward question about next steps/progress, and they don’t always come at a time when I have the emotional strength to answer, but at least these questions usually come from people who are supportive.

I am glad that I didn’t tell people when we initially started trying. It is less painful to start from a point where they already know you are having problems than to have them asking you for status when you are dealing with infertility for the first time yourself.

We were trying for nine months before I started telling anyone that we were having problems, but even that was a little too early.

Keeping a blog

I have been writing on this blog for over two weeks, but wasn’t ready to post. So many issues to decide… What title expresses me but doesn’t lock me into only talking about infertility? What should I call my husband? What to call myself? I am finally happy with the way I have set up everything, and ready to start!