Monday, January 22, 2018

Proof of Progress

I am so excited! I am back in school for the semester, but that is definitely not the exciting part haha. What I am excited about is today was a nice, what do I call it... A signpost? A marker? The word or phrase eludes me, but what I'm trying to say is today I felt progress!

First, I had a conversation with my pregnant classmate. She is now visibly pregnant. And it was fine! I didn't feel weird, sad, uncomfortable, hurt, angry, depressed, or anything negative. In fact, I felt proud of myself. That may sound strange to someone who hasn't dealt with infertility so I wouldn't share that information with hardly anyone, but it's true. I am proud of myself.

We were in the computer lab and she said hello and I said hello back. She asked me a school-related question and I answered. I could have left it at that. I could have easily (and without looking rude or awkward) walked away after that exchange, but I didn't. I chose to continue to engage her in conversation. Well, I didn't ask her a single thing about her pregnancy, but, who knows, maybe she appreciated being talked to like the human being that she is and not just as an incubator for her future child. We visited for a few minutes about our winter break and being back at school. It was so... Normal. Yay!!! And there were no residual effects for me. My day wasn't ruined. There was no dark cloud following me around. Everything was... Fine. Super yay!!!

Next, I sat through a three-hour lecture on pregnancy, fetal movement, and fetal health in utero. (I'm taking a pediatrics course this semester and we are starting at the beginning. The very beginning haha.) And again... I. Was. Fine. What??

I even thought about it during the lecture. I thought, wow, if this was last year, I would not have been able to handle this lecture. But today I just found it fascinating. I noticed my friend sitting next to me glance at me a couple of times during the lecture. He knows there have been a couple of lecture topics in the past that upset me. But I didn't need that touchpoint today; I didn't need to make eye contact with him and roll my eyes in a self-preserving reaction. He's pretty sensitive so he probably noticed, but I'm glad we didn't talk about it.

And that was it. The only reason I'm still thinking about it all is the fact that it shows me how far I've come. I am so, so glad. I don't feel bad at all that I used to not be able to handle these things, but I am grateful that it's getting better. I mean, I need to be able to function in this (fertile) world!

So, it's no big deal really. Except it totally is. Haha.

I will continue working on my recovery from infertility. 🏆 🔮


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Waiting Is Hard

I am in a familiar (though not exactly welcoming) space where time is moving slowly. For years I tried to get pregnant, each day dragging as slowly and painfully as the last. Then for years after that I worked hard at creating a new life for myself. Now I am near the end of the first major phase of my plan for creating my new life and it feels like time is at a standstill.

It's so annoying to hear parents talk about how time moves too fast and how they don't want their babies to grow up. I know life is short and maybe I would feel the same if I was parenting, but I'm not and I don't. It's getting to be a little painful. The waiting, not the infertility (for once).

Please allow me to complain a little bit. I am tired of school and homework. I am tired of spending my days with people ten to fifteen years younger than me. (As much as I like my classmates, there is a huge difference between being 38 and being 23.) I am tired of living in this city. I am tired of being lonely. (All of our friends without kids have all moved away, and all of our friends who live here are now raising children. Part of the reason we decided to move was we realized we could be just as lonely somewhere else as we are here.)

But I don't think we will be lonely after we move. It will take a long time to establish close-knit friendships, but there are a lot of ways to meet people where we are going that we don't have here. I've realized some cities are better for families with children and some cities are better for families that consist of only adults.

It's been a tough couple of weeks. I've been dealing with my childish mother, making lifestyle changes (even when it's desired, change is hardly ever easy), losing my dog, going back to school, and dealing with functional problems in our rental house... It brings to mind a common saying: when it rains, it pours.

I know everything is temporary and this too shall pass, but I am also acknowledging that it is not easy right now. After working so hard for the past three years, these last several months may be the hardest of all.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Grieving My Dog & Questioning Fertility Clinics

I haven't logged on lately because I have been grieving the loss of my dog. I know it can be hard for some people to hear about pet loss so I put this post's subject in the title. I talk about my dog in the first part and infertility in the last two parts, if you want to skip the beginning.

*****

Like everyone's dog is, my dog was the best. I loved her and we had the greatest time together. So when it came to the end of her life, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. It was peaceful. It was dignified. It was the right time. I have a lot of comfort knowing she is no longer sick and in pain. Yet, despite all these things, it still sucks and I am sad. I really miss her.

She actually lived over four times longer than the prognosis she was given. We had time to prepare mentally and emotionally, and we had time to spoil her and make the most of every day together. Still... She is now gone and her absence is glaringly obvious. I'm still in my old habits of going to pick up her water bowl at night or checking the couch to see if she's there.

I would like to write a tribute to her, but I think it will take some time for me to write something worthy of her. For now, I'll just tell you a little bit about her.

I had wanted a dog for years but couldn't afford to care for one, so I waited. Then my husband and I started dating. Almost immediately, I informed him of my dog dream/plan. He was doubtful; unlike my dog-loving family, it's not what he was raised with. Well, we got married and just a year and a half later, we got a dog! Hahahaha. I knew I would "win." ;) And my husband was very quickly wrapped around her little finger/paw. He loved that dog and cared for her in ways I could have never predicted.

We got her before we tried to have kids, so she was with me every day of the traumatic ordeal that was my experience with infertility. And she was really with me. Her fur absorbed so many of my tears. She would always do something goofy and make me laugh. And on the days where I had zero energy and motivation, she would just sit with me for hours. God, I loved that dog.

She filled my empty arms.

Yet, although I am sad, I am also truly comforted and at peace. Her health had been declining quickly over the last several weeks, and she was extremely uncomfortable in her last couple of days. It was time. Her spirit was strong, but her body was worn out. We used an at-home service so she could be where she was most comfortable. A doctor and two assistants came to our house. They were wonderful, total strangers that were a part of a very intimate moment of our lives. My husband took the day off work, and we were both with her the entire time.

I've never had my own dog before, so this was my first time with everything. I wasn't sure how/if I was going to be able to handle it, but I was determined. She was with me through everything; I wasn't going to leave her when she needed me most. And like I said earlier, it was very peaceful and dignified. From the beginning of her life to the end, we were blessed with so many caring and talented professionals: vets, vet techs, trainers, the place where we boarded her when we went out of town. Everyone who met her loved her, and she loved everyone she met.

So I am very, very thankful.

*****

Here is the part where infertility comes in.
(Because infertility has a weird way of making itself a part of so many life experiences...)

The at-home service that I used gave me a folder as they left. I looked inside and it was full of information about grief and resources for support. My first thought, which I yelled out loud, was WHERE WAS MY FOLDER ABOUT GRIEF FROM MY FERTILITY CLINIC??

Seriously. Wtf. A lot of IUIs do not result in pregnancy. Most rounds of IVF do not result in pregnancy. Basically, a whole lot of fucking people do not leave the fertility clinic with the hoped for result. And we are just left out in the world--hurting, confused, and unsupported. We are left to fend for ourselves, to process on our own what we just experienced, and to figure out how to live again since, even though infertility can definitely kill your spirit, it is not actually fatal.

I want to start campaigning for After Care programs at fertility clinics. I think it's completely messed up that this isn't standard procedure. I am keeping this idea in the back of my head for after I move. There are fertility clinics where I am going, and I am seriously considering visiting them and pitching my idea. (If anyone else reading likes this idea too and does anything like it in their area of the world, I would love to hear about your process and the responses you get.)

I had the rare positive experience with my fertility clinic, but even they didn't have an After Care program. There was just the final appointment where the doctor and I talked about why the last round hadn't resulted in pregnancy. She was honest that my odds were slim and asked if I was interested in exploring other options (egg donor, embryo adoption, and adoption). I told her no, that I was exhausted, and that I couldn't do it anymore but I'd come back to her if I ever felt differently because I really did trust her. She said she was sorry that I didn't get pregnant, and I told her I always appreciated her honesty and her bedside manner. She complimented me on my clarity and strength. And that was it. Nothing else. No more appointments. No follow-up phone call. No folder full of resources and information about grief.

Really, fertility industry, an After Care folder is hardly difficult or expensive to put together.

Just a few of the things included in the folder given to me after my dog passed away:

  • a handout that describes what normal grief looks and feels like (physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually)
  • a handout with five suggestions for your daily routine that help you "bring yourself back" after grief (their words, not mine)
  • a handout describing different professionals that can help with grief after losing a pet (psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, clergy members, hotlines, and website forums)
  • a list of local and online pet loss support groups
    AND
  • a whole dang booklet called Your Guide to Pet Loss that includes topics like Common Feelings After Pet Loss, Factors That Can Complicate Grief, and Taking Care of You.

I am in shock. This seems like a no-brainer. Why is there no After Care offered at fertility clinics??

*****

In closing, I will share the "ten inalienable rights after the death of a special companion animal" written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt in his book When Your Pet Dies: A guide to mourning, remembering, and healing that were printed in the guide booklet given to me. I think you will find these ten rights quite applicable to recovering from infertility. 


  1. You have the right to grieve.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a variety of emotions.
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  5. You have the right to experience "griefbursts."
  6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
  10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.

💜 💜 💜  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Initial New Year Thoughts

Hello and Happy and Healthy New Year! Let's jump back into the blog. I don't want to reflect on last year too much; it was pretty much just school anyway. Some concerts, a couple of trips when on break, a lot of good meals and quality time spent with my husband. Well damn, even though 2017 was pretty rough on a global scale, 2017 was an improvement in my life. 

And now we're five days into 2018 and here are my current thoughts:

  • I do not regret skipping the family holiday celebration for the 2nd year in a row.

    I am thankful that my sisters and my aunt and uncle traveled to where I live so I got to see them. So, I didn't see everyone all together and I didn't see any of my cousins, but I did get to celebrate with family this year. I really appreciate it. Part of the reason I skipped was due to infertility. I felt like I needed another year, one more year to be more into my new life before I'm around my cousins' adorable kids again. Mostly, I skipped because I was exhausted from school and had no energy to travel. I hope to make the family celebration next year, but I have no regrets missing the last two years because it is what I needed while I was in my initial years of healing and accepting that I wouldn't be having children in this lifetime. (Just throwing that out there for anyone who might want to do the holidays differently next year)


  • I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I am going to take care of my physical health!

    I have worked so hard on my mental and emotional health for the last two years, and I'm proud of my work. Now it is time to focus on a different aspect of my health: my physical body. While TTC, I was in pretty good shape. I ate healthy, walked regularly, and took a million vitamins and supplements. But after I quit TTC, I just needed a break. From everything. I definitely stopped taking all those vitamins and supplements. I also stopped eating healthy. In fact, I made the conscious decision to just eat whatever I wanted, so that's what I've done for the last 2 years. And, let me tell you, it has been delicious. I also have no regrets there. However, the fact of the matter is, that between all those fertility drugs and then my extended period of conscious unhealthy eating led to weight gain and muscle loss. (Again, no regrets- it's all part of the process for me.) So now I want to eat better and exercise regularly. I'm motivated by vanity a little bit, but mostly I'm motivated by function. I am going to be transferring patients soon, and I need to get stronger. So, in addition to finishing up school, I'm also going to make taking care of my physical health a priority this year.


  • I love breaks!!!

    I will miss them after I graduate from school and re-enter the world of employment. I love the opportunity to rest up, run errands when it's not crowded, and meet up with friends I haven't seen all semester. I saw two friends last week and will see two friends this week. I met them all at different parts in my life and I really value these women, who range in age from 36 to 64. I am very grateful for good conversations and laughter.


  • Speaking of laughter, one of my friends said the funniest thing.

    She is a former co-worker and we've been friends for, wow, 15 years now. (Time freakin' flies.) She's in her early 50s and her boys are in their early 20s. They are both good kids but having a difficult time adjusting to the next stage of their lives, so my friend is still heavily supporting them and parenting them as much as you can parent young men in their early 20s. Overall, she and I have very interesting conversations about having children. She loves her kids and she was (and still is) an awesome mom while they were growing up- lots of activities and sports and friends and pool parties. But she is So Thankful to be, as she calls it, "on the backside of parenting."

    One of our mutual friends had a baby a year and a half ago and I asked my friend if she had seen her. My friend said she hadn't, not since she went to her house to meet the baby. My friend continued, "I don't expect to see her. Her life just completely changed. Whenever I find out one of my friends is having a baby I'm like, 'See you in ten years!' "

    Ha!!! I thought that was so funny. My friend isn't infertile and saying she's not going to see her friend with a baby. My friend is a mom and saying she's not going to see her friend with a baby... for ten years! I mean, it's pretty much true. I've just never heard a fertile person say it. I laughed pretty hard.