Thursday, December 29, 2016

Update: When Someone Else Goes Through Treatment

I have been loving these past couple of weeks, meeting up with friends I hadn't seen since I started school in the fall. It's been great to see everyone and catch up. Two of the people my husband and I met up with were the couple that I posted about previously, the ones going through fertility treatment. Although she's been open on social media, I did not know the details. Well, in just a few words I was able to figure out exactly their situation. They've already had retrieval, did genetic testing, and have three fertilized embryos to transfer.

(Even though the husband is one of my husband's best friends, they never knew what all we did. I had only previously shared with the wife that we had tried some things if she needed someone to listen who had actually been through it. Despite having this blog and putting my most private thoughts and feelings on the internet, my husband and I are actually extremely private people.)

Anyway, since she had been open on social media, I asked her how she was doing and if everything was going well. She shared a few surface details, and I don't think she was expecting me to be so familiar with the terminology because I immediately knew what all she was talking about- no explanation necessary. So since I understood so well and so quickly, it became quite obvious that my husband and I had been through IVF. Soon, we were all complaining about how the process seems to take over your life. Turns out her husband loved giving her the trigger shot about as much as mine did. (They didn't. At all.) 

They seemed a little bit surprised that we were so well versed in the process, so they quickly realized we had been through it all and we obviously don't have any children. That was my only concern in being open with them. I didn't want our results to discourage them. I really, really hope it works for them. I want everyone who wants a child to have a child but especially this friend. She is one of those truly special, exceptional women.

She seemed concerned that they only had three embryos and I told her that was a lot, to ignore the women who were complaining they only got 15 eggs or only 5 fertilized or whatever. She said they were going to transfer them one at a time and hope for the best.

In a quiet moment in the conversation when our husbands were talking about something else, the wife looked at me and asked, "Are you done?" And I said, "Yes." She took a minute to kind of take that in. 

I told her, "You will get through this. Whatever happens, you will get through this." I nodded toward her husband and told her, "You are not going through this alone and you are not going through this with a dumbass." Her eyes got big for a second and then she laughed and said, "You're right. I'm not going through this with a dumbass." (Her husband is an amazing guy, very fun, kind, and sensitive.)

And then the conversation moved on to much lighter, easier topics. 

My biggest concern was the fact that now she knows we tried IVF and it obviously didn't work for us. I want her to stay hopeful for as long as possible, as long as that hope is healthy for her. But, since it didn't work for us, I hope she sees me as someone who is surviving. Not only surviving, but I am also living. She has watched me try to rebuild my life over the last several years and she has been very supportive of me. She even gave me a Back To School present this fall, a bucket full of school supplies and candy with a very sweet card. So she knows that I've almost completely changed my life.

I just hope my experience doesn't make her sad, anxious, or even more worried. I hope I am showing her that life can still be good even after dealing with one of the worst things ever.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Space In Between

I really love the space in between Christmas and New Year's. I feel like the world finally slows down, if only for just a little bit.

I normally don't like the spaces in between. I hate commuting. I'm actually not very fond of traveling. I just want to be there, wherever I am. Home, work, vacation. I want to be there. Not getting there.

I didn't really like being engaged either. I mean, it was fine. But I liked both dating and being married more than being engaged. Being engaged was just an intermediary stage.

Even though everything is temporary, including our destinations, the spaces in between have just never been my favorite.

Of course my least favorite "in between space" that I've ever felt was trying to conceive. Not a mom and not even pregnant, I hated the space in between being a newlywed and becoming a family with children. All the waiting, waiting, waiting while I wasn't even looking forward to being pregnant. Pregnancy was just something I was going to get through to get what I ultimately wanted. But the heartbreak on top of the waiting... And then the ugly feelings like jealousy and devastation when months turned into years... And then all the spaces in between once we started medical intervention. Waiting for cycle day 1. Waiting for follicle growth. Waiting for my lining to thicken. Waiting for the insemination, retrieval, transfer... Waiting for the phone call that said how many fertilized or whether or not I was pregnant... Blah. It sucked. I'm halfway sorry I just typed all that out just now. So glad all of that is in my past.

But the spaces in between, though not my favorite, are also valuable. Not to get too "out there," but the spaces in between are just as important as where we begin and where we end up. It is often where we are in the present moment and it's important to accept wherever we are. It's where we learn about ourselves. And others. It's where we breathe. In and out, in and out, in and out.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Me & Technology

So I was wondering if people stopped reading or just stopped commenting since my blog hadn't received any comments in over a month... And then today I found where everyone's comments are awaiting moderation! Hahaha. I'm telling you, technology is not my strength. If I could, I'd insert the crying laughing emoji here. I will now enjoy reading through and replying to everyone's comments from the last month. Sorry for my confusion hahaha. Happy fRidAy everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Doing Things Differently

This holiday season has been very different.

I remember after last year's Christmas I was just going to skip the whole thing this year and take a beach vacation with my husband. Well, unfortunately, the beach trip didn't happen, but I've still done things very differently and I've enjoyed the changes.

It started with Thanksgiving. Actually, it started with a cousin's wife getting pregnant in their first month of marriage. We had just started celebrating Thanksgiving with this side of the family at my mom's house in the last 5 or so years. As soon as I heard she was pregnant and as I remembered how she was while planning her wedding (very nice but very self-involved), I knew I wanted no part of her pregnancy.

So I decided back in the fall that I was going to give myself the gift of a pregnancy- and baby-free holiday season this year. And can you believe it? I am succeeding!

So, Thanksgiving was easy to skip because it was out of town and I couldn't travel because of my school assignments. (However, even if it was in town, I still would have skipped.)

Next was Christmas. My husband and I have been traveling every holiday season for... Well, I don't remember the last time I didn't travel to see family for Christmas. We used to alternate among the cities we all live in but that dropped off awhile ago. When I suggested celebrating in our city this year. I was told, "It is just so hard to travel with small children." To which I replied, "It's just as hard to not be able to have children and have to accommodate everyone else's lives." I was met with slightly awkward silence.

Well, honestly, I was tired. Completely wiped out, exhausted from school all semester. Plus, my beach trip wasn't happening. So I just decided we weren't going. I love my family and I definitely missed them this year, but... I have no regrets!!! :) Instead of running myself ragged, I am fully rested and perfectly content with my quiet holiday this year.

Two years ago I was going through IVF and *still* traveled during the holiday season. I was stressed and terrified and traveling with hormone injections in an ice cooler was not fun for me at all. I always regretted traveling that year. So this year felt a little like I got to balance out that experience.

The interesting thing is two years ago I would not have dreamed of skipping Christmas. In fact, my counselor at the time suggested it and I remember being mildly horrified at the idea.

How things change...

And here I am, enjoying my holiday season without any painful reminders of what my life isn't.

I highly recommend it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Getting Through

I always seem to forget that grief isn't linear.

I was feeling pretty good about a lot of things for several months, and that was pretty cool. But I've really been missing my children these last couple of weeks.

Some things you don't get over; you just get through.


In other news, I finished my first semester of school! I started getting really into it at the end haha. Then I totally ran out of steam and just did the best I could to get through finals.

And now I'm done. And I'm pretty sure I passed!!!

I almost can't believe it. I honestly didn't believe I could do it. I thought the material was too much, too hard, not the kind of stuff that comes easily for me. And it was too much, too hard, and not the kind of stuff that comes easily for me hahaha, but I just kept getting up every day and doing it. I thought, what else am I going to do? Might as well do this.

And I did. And I'm glad. And I feel good about it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tears out of Nowhere

I cried yesterday. I didn't know it was coming. I didn't even know I was sad. I was just telling my husband about my day and all of a sudden the holidays and babies and family stuff hit me out of seemingly nowhere. I found myself telling him, "I'm back interacting in the world again. And I have to deal with other people's pregnancies. And other people's constant talk about their children. And it's hard. And it just sucks. And it's not fair."

The next thing I knew I was crying. And I thought I was doing so well. But I am doing so well. This is all just a part of it.

Every holiday season gets a little bit easier. I tried everything I wanted to try to try and get pregnant. Last holiday season was my first year knowing that I probably wouldn't be having children in this lifetime, so I thought this holiday season would be easy. But it's not. Because life goes on. My cousin's kids, who are the same age that mine would have been, are growing up. Another cousin is pregnant. The next generation is here and growing up and it will always be a bit of a reminder of what I don't have.

It's so important to be kind to ourselves. We experience life in a totally different way than fertile people do. I stopped expecting people to understand my reality a long time ago. Now I just do what I need to do to take care of myself.

I'm thinking of everyone this month. People dealing with infertility, people living life after infertility, people going through the holiday season after experiencing a profound loss... It's not easy, but we are not alone.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Good Distraction

Well, the semester is coming to a close. I have a couple of projects and then final exams left. As I've shared, the whole thing has been much more difficult than I anticipated it to be. I honestly could not picture myself making it this far, but here I am. Then again, that last sentence could be used to describe my experience with infertility also.

I have been through a roller coaster of emotions throughout this semester. I felt overwhelmed academically and I am still grieving the loss of my children. It was so hard to get up every day and go through the motions. But it wouldn't have been any easier to stay in bed all day either. For the first time in years, I was around people who weren't my doctors and nurses at the fertility clinic and I had important due dates and deadlines that had nothing to do with ultrasounds and egg retrieval. I had to wear pants and a bra for longer than a couple of hours at a time. I had to be engaged in the outside world. And you know what's in the outside world: fertile people. Everywhere.

I think I've done pretty well. I had some good support. My husband is awesome. And I met a new friend in school that I really got along with. We have since added a third member to our study group and the three of us "waste" just as much time laughing as we do working. It has been so many years since I have laughed this much. They have no idea...

All of my classmates have hated this semester. The program is grueling. But, as I confided in my friend that knows I came to school after infertility and debilitating depression, I'm having the best time I've had in a long time. Hahaha! That's how much my life sucked! I had to go to a demanding, all-consuming, aggravating, frustrating, extremely difficult professional program to improve the quality of my life. Ha!!!!!

It's been a good distraction. It definitely got me out of my rut. And I met new people that I enjoy being around. And I am stoking the fire of a new passion- a new profession that I fall more in love with with each passing day.

It was during the second week of school I think that I texted my best friend and said something like, "I can't do this. It's too hard and I'm still too deep in grief. I think I went back to school too soon." And she texted me back, "So what if you did?" Hahahaha. I love her. So what if I did. Hahaha. I did the work to apply, applied, got in, moved, sold our house, registered, bought books, and started going to class. So what if it was too soon. I did it anyway. :)))

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Weird Feeling

I'm running late this morning, so of course I'm going to sit down and jot down a quick post. Hahaha. :)

It's still so weird to me that I don't have a kid. It seems like almost everyone my age has one, and I always assumed and planned that I would have at least one. And I don't have any. And, even though I've never had any children in my life, it just seems weird. Almost like something is missing. Even though my life is full. I'm one of those women that feels like I was born to be a mother. Now I am channeling that energy into other avenues and hope to make a difference in the children's lives whom I will work with in the future.

But it's weird to feel like someone's missing when they were never there in the first place.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love a day that celebrates gratitude, loved ones, relaxation, and food. This year will be my smallest gathering yet- just me, my husband, and my mother-in-law, but I am looking forward to it so much!! I am still drowning in school work so I don't have time to make the big traditional meal this year. Instead we are going to a fancy restaurant that is special to all of us. There will be a big holiday buffet with lots of different food stations: omelets, breakfast, seafood, sushi, salad, turkey and dressing, crepes, desserts, mimosas, and a Bloody Mary cart.

I am just so dang thankful. I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, and loved ones to share my life with. I have my husband, my dog, my school program, and my new dreams. I have my health, and I have a new energy and inspiration toward life. I don't take any of it for granted for a second!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When I Knew It Was Time to Stop

Going through fertility treatments felt like a full time job. So many appointments. So many procedures. It took up so much time. It was the main thing that was going on in my life and I didn't want to talk about it with anyone. (Later, when nothing worked, I would be thankful that I didn't tell everyone because that meant I didn't have to go back and tell a bunch of people I wasn't pregnant.)

It was so expensive and so stressful and I was so sad and mad and scared. It really sucked. And I think I had the rare positive experience with my RE.

I remember going in for one of my IUIs. I was waiting for the elevator and when the door opened, my doctor walked out. No one else was in the hallway and she happily exclaimed, "Good luck!" (The nurse was going to do the procedure, not my doctor.) I remember being so surprised that she remembered me. I said, "You know who I am?" And she seemed surprised. She said, "Of course I know who you are," and she addressed me by name. "You are my patient and I was just looking at your chart and everything looks good!!" I'll be forever grateful. I always felt like a person at that clinic; I never felt like a number.

But even with all of the positives lined up: great clinic, friendly doctor, nice nurses, gifted phlebotomists, beautiful waiting room, free parking... The whole thing still took its toll.

I was dying on the inside. I was taking my hormone injections, eating healthy, downing vitamins and supplements by the handful, trying to do the most natural thing in the world... And I was losing myself. I became a shell of a person.

After the first IUI didn't work, I thought, well, that's okay- it often takes several tries. I knew an acquaintance that got pregnant on her 4th IUI. I didn't make it that far. While it was always my choice what to do, my doctor encouraged me not to do more than 3 IUIs. She explained that, after that, the odds just weren't in my favor.

So after 3 IUIs, I tried IVF. I've mentioned it before, but IVF changed me. I can now get my blood drawn like a champ. Things that used to scare me before don't phase me now. And nothing seems very important or stressful (i.e. grad school) because, after you lose your children, not much else matters by comparison.

I did it. I went through IVF. Twice. Injections. Ultrasounds. Blood draws. Egg retrieval. Waiting for updates. Embryo transfer. Waiting for two long weeks. Hoping, hoping, hoping, while also trying to protect myself from the worst somehow...

And that first phone call after my first IVF destroyed me. It didn't work. I wasn't pregnant.

Somehow I powered through, took a cycle off from treatment, and then immediately went into my second round of IVF. I knew in the back of my mind that if I stopped, I would never try again...

It didn't work.
I wasn't pregnant.

I was empty and had nothing left to give to the process.

Just like with IUIs, I wanted to try 3 IVFs. Or maybe even 4. But I couldn't do it. I was done. It was like there was no decision to be made. I just knew I couldn't do it anymore.

My doctor was always realistic about my chances. With each treatment, my chance for success dropped significantly. She said I could try a third or even a fourth IVF, but she wasn't hopeful that it would work. She talked to me about donor eggs. And adoption. Said if I wanted to try another clinic, she was more than happy to discuss my case with another doctor. But I didn't want to go anywhere else. I tried my best. Everyone did. I felt there was nothing else I could do. Thankful for the opportunity to try and walking away without regrets, I was done with medical intervention.

I knew it was going to take me a long time, but I had to figure out how to start living again.

Monday, November 21, 2016

My First Visit to the RE

I knew which fertility clinic to call because I had already looked up the ones in my area and chosen which one I liked best. I looked at SART information, considered the location with regard to traffic patterns, and explored whether or not the clinics were affiliated with other clinics or a bigger system. Fortunately, the one closest to me had the best data and was affiliated with a nationally known, high quality fertility clinic. At least I had all that going for me...

I had already been to my gynecologist several times. When we decided to start trying, I went and saw her for a preconception checkup. After we had been trying for six months, she did my HSG. Then when things still weren't happening, she did some bloodwork and checked all of my hormones. That's when I learned my AMH was low and I had a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).

Honestly, the day I got those results was probably the hardest day throughout the whole process. This may sound weird, but I've always worried about my fertility. Even as a child. I wanted to be a mom SO BAD but knew it was out of my control. In college, I confessed my worry to my best friend and she assured me that it would be okay. So when I learned that I had DOR, something in me just knew. I knew that it hadn't been easy and it wasn't going to get any easier. A big part of me lost all hope that it would ever happen. I literally collapsed in heaving sobs on the floor of our office. Out of everything I've been through, that was the hardest moment.

My husband had already been to a urologist that specialized in fertility. Well, first he gave a sperm sample for some random doctor that my gynecologist suggested. Then I asked him to go ahead and have a full physical. My husband, who absolutely hates doctors and never goes to see them, went without question. I will be forever grateful about his attitude. So he went. Had a physical exam, bloodwork, ultrasound, gave another sample. The results were fine. No physical problems. Low counts but nothing impossible.

So I felt we had checked everything out that we could. So, after dragging my feet for a year, we proceeded to the fertility clinic I picked out.

Our first appointment was nerve wracking. The waiting room was gorgeous. But weird. I'm not used to doctors' waiting rooms being chatty, but this one was even more different. People seemed to actively avoid eye contact. Everyone sat strategically, where they would not be near anyone else. Of course, I looked at all the baby pictures and read the photo album full of thank you notes. I started to get excited, that maybe this would actually happen.

We went in to meet the doctor. Like the waiting room, she was also gorgeous. And warm. And friendly. I instantly felt at ease. She looked through our extensive file, praising me on all the steps we had already taken. After talking to us, reviewing all of our information, and answering my extremely LONG list of questions, she told us it could happen. Our numbers weren't telling her it was impossible. She said, "We get women like you pregnant all the time." A glimmer of hope.

She suggested, with our numbers, to go straight to IVF. But, she also said, if we wanted to try IUI first, we could do that. I asked if it would be a waste of time and money to do IUI first and she said no, just that our chances were higher with IVF. I asked about Clomid, since I thought that was always the first thing women tried. She said Clomid wouldn't be appropriate for me. So I chose to try IUI first. I couldn't handle the ideas of injections yet. Then she told me that I would be doing injections with my IUI. That's when I started crying. And shaking. And she was so calm and gentle and sensitive. She really assured me that it was going to be okay, that they wouldn't hurt much and that I could do this. She never pressured me; she emboldened me.

I did not know it then, but I was in for much bigger disappointments than having to do injections. But what I also did not know then was how lucky I was to be at a fertility clinic where I felt listened to and so well taken care of.

We all know how my story ends: surprise, no baby. But my husband and I would spend the next seven months with my doctor and her team of nurses and phlebotomists, and we all tried our best.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

When I Decided to Try Treatment

Ahhhh... A moment to breathe! That was one busy week. Busy is good these days though so I'm not complaining. :)


Ever since I wrote last week about an acquaintance going through fertility treatment, I've had treatment on my mind. So maybe I'll write a few posts about my experience.

First, how did I decide to try fertility treatment?

Well, my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for two years. I tried to be patient that first year, even though things seemed to be perfectly timed every month and every month it didn't happen. I always thought I'd try for a year and then move on to medical assistance. However, after that first year, I did not proceed directly to the doctor's office. I was mad. And sad. And scared. And annoyed. And figured I just needed to be more patient, that it would eventually happen.

I was hanging out with a very good friend one day when she asked me directly why I hadn't been to the doctor yet. I shared that we had all the basic testing done and that there were problems on both sides of the equation. She looked at me very lovingly and said it was okay if I sought medical help, that I "deserved to be pregnant."

That really stuck with me. I didn't realize until that point how much guilt I felt. And I claim to hardly ever feel guilty... But I had a lot of subconscious baggage going on: it was my fault, I had waited too long, I wasn't healthy enough, I'm just not relaxed enough (I know! That last one makes me cringe! But those messages that I heard so much had slowly seeped into my brain.)

And in that moment I realized, I *do* deserve to be pregnant.

I went home and, the following Monday, I made my first appointment with the fertility clinic.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Creating My New Life

I'm so busy this week with tests, assignments, and projects for school. I'm so tired I think I could go to bed and wake up in 2017. But with each passing week, I get more committed to school and my new profession. I am really excited to be creating a new life!

Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people's. -Anais Nin

Friday, November 11, 2016

When Someone Else goes through Treatment

How do I respond when someone I know is going through fertility treatments?

It feels kind of awkward.

On one hand I want to say, "Good luck!" but on the other hand I don't want to be the reminder that sometimes (or, as we all know- often) it doesn't work out.

A wife of one of my husband's good friends is going through treatment right now. She posted about it on facebook and asked for prayers. The comments were hard for me to read. They ranged from "You got this! You deserve it!" to " God is good. He will bless your family." to "I know it's hard but it is worth it. Having children is the most rewarding thing in life."

And I have... Lots of thoughts about all of those comments.

But I will keep those thoughts to myself, not share them with my friend obviously.

But I think people have the misconception that fertility treatments work. Often, if not all the time. And we know that they work... Rarely.

So I would like to support her, but I don't know how. Then again, I probably can't support her right now. Last year one of my best friends was going through IVF. I told her that I loved her very much and wished her the best but I wasn't able to be the friend to her that I wanted to be at that time, that I still needed space from the world of fertility treatments. Spoiler: She didn't get pregnant. :(

And I am probably still there. I just can't hear about the appointments and the medications and the procedures and the updates. I'm not there yet. And it's not really a goal of mine to ever get there. If it happens, it happens. But I'm not really concerned about it.

But the most awkward part is that I feel like I am the reminder nobody wants, that you can try everything and still not get pregnant. So I don't even know if any good wishes from me would be welcome or well received. (Well, she is a pretty amazing person, so she would probably accept my sentiments lovingly and sincerely. But others? I'm not so sure...)

I am definitely hoping for the best for her. I guess I will do it from a distance.

Monday, November 7, 2016


I always planned on having children. From the time I was a kid, I dreamed about being a mom. But I also wanted some time to myself, time in between college and having children. Just as much as I dreamed about having children, I dreamed of having my own apartment. No roommates, no boyfriend, no husband. I thought that would be the coolest thing. (And it was!)

I keep a planner. An old fashioned, paper and pencil planner. My family makes fun of me for this. They think I am too rigid and dorky. I just like to write stuff down so I don't have to remember it. Plus, you can only do so much in a day so having a planner helps me to not overschedule myself. Once several things have been written down for one day, I know that day is full.

So I planned on having children. I enjoyed my single years and all the friends and jobs and boyfriends and parties and trips that came with it. I will always be thankful for that time period in my life. I enjoyed dating my husband. I enjoyed getting married. I enjoyed being married. Then we started trying to conceive. And you know how that goes... Not so fun after so much time passes.

I was sad I couldn't get pregnant. One of my sisters said rather rudely to me, "Well you can't plan everything in life." This is the same sister that told me, "You can't have everything." (I'll try to spread out the gems she's shared with me over the years in lots of different posts. They are all zingers on their own and all at once they would add up to a mountain of hurt.)

But why couldn't I plan to get pregnant? What's wrong with that? I was patient and tried for many years. It's not like I had a specific season, month, or date that it had to happen on. I didn't have a preference on gender. I just wanted to get pregnant and have a baby. Like everybody else.

What fault did my sister find in my plan? When she wanted to have a baby, she did. When our other sister wanted to have a baby, she did. When our cousins wanted to have a baby, they did. What was wrong with me planning to have one?

Well, I'm working on other plans now. Something will work out. If something happens and I don't end up graduating from my school program, it won't be the first time I spent time and money on something without receiving the desired outcome. But I will keep trying.

And ultimately I will create a new life for myself. I know plans don't always work out, but I am glad to be looking toward the future.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

In a Funk

My best friend from college had her baby this week. Of course I am happy for her. And of course it's complicated. Of course it brings up sadness for me for myself.

As soon as I think I'm fine with my lot in life, I am reminded that I'm not. Or, at least, I'm not as okay with it as I thought I was.

It's weird. Do I *really* want a newborn right now? Yes. And no.

I think about it and I go back and forth. I guess that's a waste of my time because my fertility obviously isn't up to me. But I wonder how I truly feel and what thoughts have become a self-protective mechanism.

Recently I've been telling my husband that I wanted it to happen THEN, but I don't really want it to happen NOW. But then a week like this comes along and I think, well, what do I want? Again, though, it's not up to me.

Although I will share with you all that we are using contraception. That feels so weird to say. One, because it's so personal and I just put it on the internet. And two, because, well, I tried to get pregnant for yearsss... Why prevent pregnancy? I mean, it's obviously not necessary.

But I needed a break. I needed to stop hoping. Every. Single. Month. I needed a break from heartbreak. I was very, very tired. And so, at least for now, I know it's absolutely not going to happen. And maybe that's where my questioning comes in. Maybe that's why I'm still asking myself what do I want.

And I don't know.

I wanted to raise babies and toddlers in my 30s, not my 40s. There's nothing wrong with raising babies and toddlers in your 40s; it's just my personal preference. But what if I'm wrong about myself?

I drive myself crazy with the back and forth thinking. It's not like it's up to me anyway. I tried. I tried everything. It didn't happen. And I am moving forward.

But, right now, I am in a funk. I recognize this. I am familiar with this. But it still sucks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Moment of Gratitude

Thank you for reading!

I have been blogging for a month now, and I'm really thankful for everyone who has stopped by and made time to read what I have written. It is invaluable to be heard and understood, especially without explanation. I hope my blog has helped someone as much as it has helped me.

I didn't realize I had so much to say! Hahaha. For the past six months I've felt like I've been healing and I thought that was it. I think I am healing but part of that is now I want to share what I've been thinking to myself for so many years.

Thank you for the community and the camaraderie. I appreciate every reader, blogger, and comment. I look forward to more reading and writing.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hardest Day of the Year

Not Christmas. Not Mother's Day. Halloween is the hardest day of the year for me.

For years I dreamed about being pregnant at Halloween. I was going to draw on a white t-shirt and have my pregnant belly go as a baseball. Silly I know. And it probably wouldn't have even looked that good. But my dad is a die hard baseball fan and it was just one of those things I always daydreamed about.

I would also daydream about going to fall festivals and dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating and hosting Halloween parties for my kids.

When I first started trying to get pregnant, three months had passed by the time Halloween arrived. And I was NOT a chill "it'll happen when it'll happen" kind of woman trying to get pregnant. No, once my husband agreed to try I wanted it to happen immediately. I was beyond ready. So I was very sad when it didn't happen right away. When Halloween came around I consoled myself by saying, "This time next year I'll be pregnant or have a baby."

Then the next Halloween came and I thought, "It's okay. This time next year I'll be pregnant or have a baby." Halloween became a time marker of sorts for me.

Then the next Halloween came and I had started fertility treatments and I thought again, "This time next year I'll be pregnant or have a baby."

Then by the next Halloween I had decided to stop fertility treatments for good and I thought, "Well, maybe I'll be one of those women that gets pregnant after years of trying and failed treatments."

This Halloween I am not saying any of those things to myself anymore.

It's hard. Letting go of a lifelong dream is not easy.

I'm thankful I have such happy memories about Halloween from my own childhood. I'm thankful I'm working toward rebuilding my life. I'm thankful I don't feel stuck in infertility limbo anymore.

And one day I will feel well enough to get dressed up again and pass out candy to trick or treaters. But I am not there yet.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I Survived

I survived midterms!

A couple of readers asked what I was going to school for. I want to remain anonymous on the internet. Just having a blog is way outside of my comfort zone. However, as a reader of others' blogs, I always want to know more too haha. So I will share that I am in graduate school for a health care profession. And it is hard. As they all are. Becoming a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, whatever... These programs are very demanding.

But I survived midterms!

But of course I did. Because I am surviving infertility. And nothing is harder than that, in my humble opinion. I mean, quite honestly, who really cares about a test when you've already lost your children?

Infertility changed me. I was irreverent before, but now I'm on another level. Ha!!! My poor classmates, taking everything so seriously... Don't get me wrong. I'm taking it all seriously too. I'm showing up and doing the work. But this program is definitely not the life or death of life as I knew it. The worst case scenario is I fail out and my husband and I move out of state sooner. So, really, the worst case scenario isn't too bad.

But seriously, infertility changed me. For example, I used to be SO afraid of roaches. If I saw one I would throw a heavy textbook on it and deal with it a couple days later when I had calmed down. I know, dramatic and gross. Now I just grab a shoe, whack it, and promptly dispose of the body. The first time I did this it surprised me. I turned to my husband and said, "I survived failed IVF. I'm not scared of roaches anymore."

So, yes, I survived.

I survived midterms. I survived failed fertility treatments. I'm surviving infertility.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Identifying as Infertile

When I started this blog, I thought about whether or not I wanted to use the word "infertile" in the name or title. Am I really healing if I keep calling myself infertile? Am I moving forward or picking at the same old wound? Is being infertile central to my identity? How do I truly see myself?

But, I wanted to write a blog about living life after infertility and I liked the mythology of the phoenix rising from the ashes so "Infertile Phoenix" just seemed to capture what I was going for.

I mean, it's not like I walk around in my daily life with a scarlet "I" on my chest.

Even though I chose to disclose my infertility with classmates two different times last week, today I chose not to do so. I came to a big decision over the weekend: I decided I want to graduate from this program, not drop out at the end of the semester. I had previously shared my ambivalence with a professor so today I said, "I have some big news!" And she immediately, joyfully exclaimed, "You're pregnant!" That could have been a perfect opening to share, "No, I'm infertile," but in the moment I chose not to. Instead I said, "No, I decided I want to graduate from the program." And she was equally excited by this news as she was by her first guess.

So I don't always share my infertility. It's not my central identity, not to myself and not to the outside world. For a long time, it DID feel like my central identity for myself, but that's why I'm rebuilding my life with new hopes and dreams.

There is more to me than being infertile. However, it is a part of me. My experience with infertility profoundly changed me and changed how I see the world.

Being infertile will be central to this blog, but it is not central to my existence. I am much more than that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Responding Honestly

I was expecting some sort of kids-type comments from my classmates at some point, and I'm actually surprised it took this long. Maybe going to school with a bunch of younger people has its advantages haha. Child bearing is just not on most of my classmates' radar screens. Although they are not all 22 and many of them do have kids, it just hasn't come up in conversation until this week.

This week I was on the receiving end of two comments.  Well, one comment and one question really. And my response was unexpected by me. I didn't know what or how I was going to say anything when asked, but I thought I was going to remain private. But I didn't and I'm pleasantly surprised by my gut reaction.

The first comment was made Monday morning. We are in the middle of midterm exams and projects and a small group of us were sharing how stressed and overwhelmed we are, not knowing how we were going to get everything done. And one of my classmates said it: "At least you don't have kids." She didn't say it maliciously, rudely, or in any way with a negative connotation. She just said it matter-of-fact. And before I knew what was coming out of my mouth I said, "Well, if I had kids I wouldn't be here. I tried for years and it was very traumatizing. So, actually, I wish I did have kids." And I didn't say it rudely or bitterly. I just stated it matter-of-fact. I didn't feel stung by her comment and I didn't perceive that she felt stung by my comment. It was just a very small moment that simply passed. Huh. How 'bout that...

Then yesterday I was talking to two classmates during a break. One of them is close to my age and he asked, "Do you want kids?" And again, without thinking, I simply said, "I wanted them very badly. I tried for years and it was very traumatic." To which he replied, "I'm sorry." Wow. What? I seriously went two whole years while trying to have kids before I heard a single person say "I'm sorry" and a classmate said it within seconds of my disclosure? It felt like a small miracle. It felt kind of good. I said, "Thank you. I used to never talk about it, but I think it's important to be honest because it's actually kind of common." Then the other classmate asked, "Do you think you'll go into pediatrics?" And I very honestly and immediately replied, "I think so. Because I love working with kids so much. When I was deep into my depression I wasn't so sure I'd be able to handle it, but now that some time has passed I think I'll be able to do it. I hope so. Because I love kids." And that was that.

It was almost odd. To have two normal-seeming conversations about my infertility with people I just met two months ago. To speak about it without anger, resentment, or bitterness. To be received so well. To not be dismissed. It was nice.

:)  :)  :)

Like I said in my last post...  Onward!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Keep Moving Forward

Right as I'm sitting down to start a long day of (boring) studying, I read this quote just now:

"You've already moved away from every disappointment you've ever experienced. Keep moving positively ahead." -Ralph Marston

What a good reminder. I thought long and hard about school yesterday. I even cried. I questioned whether or not I am on the right path. But as much as I don't like the program I'm in, I really like the profession I am working toward joining.

I am also starting to separate my New Life (going back to school) from my Old Life (trying to have kids). What I mean is I don't think "I'm only doing this because I can't have kids" every single time I go to class or sit down to work.

I also went to a concert on Friday night so that helped. I really didn't have the time to step away from my schoolwork, but I also needed to feed my soul so to speak. Going to hear one of my favorite bands was probably the best decision I've made all semester.

Onward! :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Surprising New Friend

I've made a surprising friend in grad school. He's a guy. He's almost 13 years younger than me. And he and his wife have a ten month old baby.

I started talking to him at orientation and we had a lot of things in common. I thought that was pretty cool until he mentioned something about his baby and I immediately thought, crap, well we'll see where this goes. I even came home and told my husband that I met someone cool but he had a baby so we'd see.

Turns out, he's a really nice and funny guy. He doesn't talk about his kid incessantly and the few pictures of the kid he has shared with me are super cute. I even shared with him that I wanted kids badly and couldn't have them and that's what brought me to grad school.  It's a very surprising friendship. But this program is so hard, his wife is awesome, my husband is awesome, and I keep saying that, between the four of us, we WILL survive. And maybe even graduate.

Yesterday I went to his house to work on some projects. I was curious how I would feel since I still feel pretty raw about babies in particular. Of course, their house had toys and baby things everywhere, but it didn't bother me. In fact, I loved seeing the kid's room; it was just so cute. I even went with my friend to pick up the baby from daycare. The daycare was adorable. There were no funny smells and it was decorated so cutely. We went to the baby room and when we walked in about six babies were just staring up at me and I kind of wanted to take them all home. I smiled at and talked to each of them, asking how their day was but obviously not expecting an answer haha. As we walked back to the car, I had a moment of sadness as I thought about how I'd never be picking my kid up from childcare. I didn't say anything to my friend or even my husband when I got home. I just felt the sadness and then let it pass, and, thankfully, it did pass. Mostly.

This is my life and there's really nothing I can do about it. I tried my best to have kids, it didn't happen, and I am surviving.

I've wondered why this new friend's baby (who is one super cute baby, by the way) doesn't bother me like other friend's and family member's babies have. I think part of it is I am healing a bit. I am not allowing myself to stay stuck in my despair. (How I'm not allowing myself, I'm not so sure. Maybe moving and school have helped me move forward?) But I think another part is that my friend is so young. I wasn't even with my husband when I was his age. Because it's not even possible that my husband and I could have had a kid together at his age, I'm just not jealous.

I don't like my feelings of jealousy and avoidance, but I can't deny that they're there either. But things like this new friendship help me to believe that I am slowly but surely healing, and for that I am thankful.

Monday, October 10, 2016

When Plan B is a Disappointment

After my last fertility treatment did not result in pregnancy, I had no idea what to do. I was a shell of my former self. I had no energy, no enthusiasm, and definitely no inspiration. All I knew was that I couldn't go on living the way I was because I wasn't really living; I was walking death.

So I took a week to cry and stare at the wall.

One week later I decided to move.

I told my husband, "We're moving. We're selling this house and we are going to live somewhere else." Fortunately, he was on board.

We bought that gorgeous 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house with two-story ceilings, lots of windows, and natural lighting for our children. It was close to his work so he could spend more time with me and the kids instead of having a long commute. It had an upstairs loft that would have made a great family room/play area. It was nearly perfect.

But our children never came. And I could no longer live there.

So we thought about where to go and what to do.

And then I got the idea to change careers and go back to school. After spending the last several years putting all of my energy into trying to conceive, going to doctor's appointments, getting acupuncture, refilling prescriptions, buying supplements, getting injections, having ultrasounds, and undergoing procedures, I threw my whole being into Going Back To School. It was The Thing that was going to save me.

I researched programs, found one I liked, realized I had a short window of time to get everything done for the application, and charged forward.  I took prerequisite courses during summer school. I cried every night while I studied. I knew that I was supposed to be taking care of my baby, not studying for classes where my classmates were half my age. But I kept moving forward. I took 14 credit hours in 15 weeks. I took the GRE.  I found people to write letters of recommendation. I agonized over my one-page essay. I completed the application. I mailed it off.

And I waited... But I was used to waiting.

So I started packing. I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I wasn't staying there.

I started with the nursery. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Maybe it was weird that I had started collecting onesies and kids' books, but, hey, I thought I was like everyone else and I was going to get pregnant and have a baby. It took me a week to clean out the nursery/storage room.

Then I tackled the rest of the house. Just as I was about finished cleaning out, getting rid of stuff, and boxing up what we were keeping, I got my acceptance letter. And I. Was. Elated.

This was My Next Thing! I was Going Back to School!

We found a place to rent next to school, moved in, put our house on the market, and sold it, all of which I will probably elaborate on in future posts. I just said it all in one sentence but it was HARD. Every stage brought unexpected feelings, and not many of them felt very good. I was glad to be moving on, but I was sad for the circumstances which brought it all on.

So. Fast forward to this fall when I started school. Here it was, what I'd been waiting for, what I'd poured my heart and soul into for the last year, what I'd completely transformed my life for.

And it was horrible. Absolutely awful.

The class content was not what I was expecting. The work load seemed impossible. I was overwhelmed with being so behind with technology. School had changed A LOT since the last time I went, which was a very long time ago. My new plan was a big disappointment.

I tried to share my disappointment with other people and, of course, my feelings were dismissed. I was told, "That's how school is." And, "What did you expect?" And, "You can't expect everything to be easy." It was crushing. It was another let down, another experience where I felt unsupported and misunderstood.

And then I realized it was all a part of infertility. Well, school DID suck, that part was true. But the reason it was so disappointing was all connected to infertility. I thought if I couldn't have children, then I at least was going to have a fulfilling career. Then school was not fulfilling or meaningful at all. Plus, I was going from a deep depression coupled with low activity to all of a sudden having a lot of work and deadlines. I mean, I hadn't even been around people much in the last couple of years. It was exhausting. And intimidating.

I came home the first day and told my husband I was quitting. I told my parents I was quitting. I told anyone I talked to I was quitting. And everyone knew better than to argue with me. But then I thought, well then what am I going to do? Go back to how I was living? It was an extremely tough couple of weeks.

I decided to do it. Just go for it. I decided I'd rather fail out than quit. And I'm giving it my all.

It has gotten a little better. Not the workload. That still seems impossible. But my classmates are nice. And whatever happens, I'm reaping some side benefits of being productive again. I have a routine again. I'm eating better. I'm drinking more water. I'm interacting with the world around me.

And I might even pass this semester.

So, it's not what I hoped it would be, but I'm doing it. And, of course, in the middle of all this I thought, I think I'll start a blog. It's a really good study break.  :)

Speaking of... I better get back to the books.

'Til next time... Sometimes Plan B doesn't go how we want either. It's okay. Everything is temporary. My husband and I have a long-term plan that we're working toward. New career or not, we will make our new dreams happen.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Week Old Blog

Wow, my blog is already one week old.  They grow up so fast...  ;)

This blog has already proven to be a great outlet and a great way of connecting with others.  I look forward to what the future holds.  And, as a person learning to deal with the lifelong repercussions of infertility, looking toward the future with excitement is not something I take for granted!

Last night I brainstormed a list of topics and wrote them down in a spiral notebook.  Hopefully, I will continue to post regularly.  On the days that I have writer's block, I'll just look at my list, pick a topic, and ramble a little.

Plus, writing this blog and reading others' blogs is a great study break.  I will write about my school experience sometime, but let me just say, it has not been what I was expecting and the whole thing has been very disappointing.  But I haven't dropped out of the program (yet), and, regardless of what happens there, I am committed to creating a new life for myself.

To anyone out there who is reading, thank you very much!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Changed Relationships

Here's a topic that I will probably write a lot about. So this is kind of like an introductory post. But, again, if I waited until I had it all written perfectly, that would be never. There's so much to say so I might as well get started.

Changed relationships.


I had no idea my experience with infertility was going to change every single one of my relationships.

In retrospect, I understand that you don't go through trauma and emerge the same person, so of course it seems obvious to me now that all of my relationships would change.

But for years, while I was going through it, I was so hurt and confused. And lonely. Very, very lonely. Not only was I grieving the loss of a dream every month, but I was grieving the loss of my relationships as I knew them.

It's easy to be friends with someone when they live or work nearby, when their life is going well and they have lots of warmth and energy to give, when they are asking nothing from you in return, and when they are available for whatever you need.

I know, true friends will always be there. But, the fact of the matter is, between work schedules, traffic patterns, and the demands of living an adult life, convenience is a factor that plays into friendships.  Plus, it's always good to have things in common or to be in a similar place in life, and most people either have kids or aren't trying to have them. Not many people live in infertility limbo land. They just get pregnant and have a baby.

And it's not just friendships; relationships among my family members changed too. There is so much I can say on this whole topic of changed relationships that I know I will just ramble about it every now and then. Needless to say, it was one of the hardest parts of infertility for me. Aside from not becoming a mom.

Every single relationship in my life either got stronger or faded away. Fortunately, my marriage got stronger.  And two friends in particular stand out as awesome supports. They were always available for my true self (even if one of them lives in another state), and they both always allowed my sadness yet also succeeded in making me laugh. I started seeing a counselor, which was immensely helpful, and she told me that having three strong people to count on in time of crisis was actually a lot. So I am very, very thankful.

I still miss a lot of my old friends, but I wish everyone well.

I am now busy rebuilding my own life and that is a good use of my energy.

Life is hard. Life is beautiful. Life goes on.

Until the next time I ramble... Be compassionate to yourself and take care.  -L

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's always there.

In an effort to work toward a new career, I've gone back to school. (more on that another day)

Today I was sitting in a meeting where someone was informing us about some upcoming program requirements. The woman was emphasizing how important it is to not make any plans that would interfere with these requirements. You see where this is going? Yep...

The program is female-heavy.  Out of 42 in the class, only 6 are male.  The presenter was saying not to plan any weddings or start a family during this one particular crucial window of the program. She looked out at us students and said, "Well, that doesn't apply to everyone. Not everyone in this room can get pregnant." And everyone laughed. Except me. Instead of laughing I thought to myself, "No, there are at least 7 people in this room who cannot get pregnant."

It didn't make me sad. After so many years, I think I'm tired of being sad. Numb to it. For that I am thankful. But the infertility is always there.  And the fertile world is always quick to remind me.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thankful for the Blogging Pioneers

I think if I waited until I had my thoughts perfectly collected and perfectly articulated I would never post, so I think I'll just jump in and write.  So there probably won't be any grand organization to this blog, just a collection of thoughts that reflect what's on my mind on any given day.  Hopefully the blog will get better over time, as I learn how to insert tags and links, but, hey, no promises! :)

First and foremost, I want to give a HUGE thank you to all of the bloggers that have been writing for years.  There are several blogs that I have read from start to finish, and there are many blogs that I check almost daily to satiate my craving for connection and understanding.  They have all contributed to my healing and to my ability to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly I was crawling in the beginning.

Infertility devastated me.  It was tragic and traumatizing.  My whole life dream was to be a mom. Nearly every decision I made in my life was made with the idea that I would be a mother someday.  When it didn't happen, I became very depressed.  Ha!  "Very depressed" is an understatement.  I felt isolated from society and alienated from my peer group.  Not only did I not have what I wanted (what I felt I was born to be) and it seemed like everyone else did, I received no compassion, sympathy, or empathy.  I received no acknowledgement for what I'd lost and what I'd been through.  I kept thinking, "#@&%!!!  Where's my damn casserole?  Aren't loved ones supposed to reach out in times like these??"

So I turned to the internet, where I learned about disenfranchised grief and found other women who were bravely writing and sharing their stories.  I have yet to meet any of them, but I am so grateful for these bloggers.  Infertility isn't fatal, but these women may have saved my will to live.

The first blog I came across was Infertility Honesty.  Oh.  My.  God.  Thank you Sarah!!!!  Your writing.  I am speechless.  But you put words to so many thoughts and feelings that had been swirling inside of me for years.  You helped me breathe again.

From there, I learned about our pioneer, Pamela Tsigdinos, and her book Silent Sorority.

Then it just grew.
Klara from The Next 15000 Days
Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled
Mali at No Kidding in NZ
Bent Not Broken
The NotMom

I was not alone!!!  I was not crazy!  I was even entitled to my feelings!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my broken, healing heart to these pioneering bloggers and their courage and willingness to be vulnerable on the internet. Thank you.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Out of the Darkness & In to the Light

Hello!  Welcome to my blog.  This is my first blog and I don't know what I'm doing (yet?), but I figure I should just go ahead and start where I am.  For the last year and a half I've been reading other people's blogs and I kind of want to join the conversation.  I kind of don't because being on the internet makes me nervous.  But I kind of want to overcome that because I would really like to have a community.  You know, a group of people that understand my perspective without me having to explain things that are so fundamental to my experience as a woman without kids living life after infertility.  So here I am.  Hello and welcome!  -Lucia