This is a project that’s been a long time coming, both for me, and for this area. Please feel free to share this post, this image, and the Resolve Toledo email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a project that’s been a long time coming, both for me, and for this area. Please feel free to share this post, this image, and the Resolve Toledo email address, email@example.com.
Soooo… Here we are.
Five years deep.
Five l o n g years of trying, failing, struggling, treading water, and just… waiting. Waiting for our turn, waiting for our two lines.
Waiting for our family to happen.
Year One was the picture of a happy-go-lucky newlywed with all the time in the world.
Year Two saw me attempting to combine Clomid with crinolines, in a sweaty scene straight out of a TBS sitcom.
Year Three had me unhappily (and soberly) awaiting the results of what would be yet another failed IUI cycle.
Year Four ended full of retrospect, acceptance, wisdom, sadness for what could have been, and an amazing amount of hope that Five would most definitely be THE YEAR.
Yesterday was the end of Year Five…
And today? You’d think today was the first day of Year Six…
…But today is actually the beginning of something completely different.
Some things have changed recently.
Actually, I don’t know if it’s more that things have changed, or that I have, but my direction has clearly been altered of late.
At my most recent acupuncture appointment, I spent some time talking with Dr. McStabby extensively about stress in my life, and the emotional toll infertility can take.
“Infertility causes infertility”, as Dr. Randine Lewis says. While I agree that infertility has been a major stressor in my life, especially in the past few years, things have improved for me recently in that department. I’m no longer as stressed as I used to be, and I think acupuncture and TCM has helped greatly.
But… so has time, honestly. We’ve been at this thing for a long time. We’re kind of getting used to disappointment after five years, know what I mean? It’s become so regular that it’s not like it’s a big shock any more.
We’ve been trying to get pregnant for our entire marriage, essentially, and the husband and I have put a lot on hold to pursue this life that we have been so desperate for. He and I talked recently, and at great length, about where we want to go from here… We finally had that talk that I’ve been afraid to have for a long time.
He is ready to get back to being a married couple instead of a TTC couple.
*cue deep sigh of relief that he doesn’t straight up want to divorce my crazy ass*
More than that, he says he won’t resent me if we can’t get pregnant, and he won’t resent me if I decide to hardcore pursue Western treatments again (although, I’ll be honest, the odds of that are slim). Basically, I have the husband’s blessing to move in whatever direction I feel comfortable, even if that is just varying degrees of backing off the whole TTC thing completely.
We may move onto just being a healthy couple who lets whatever happens, happen. We’ve both accepted that we may be that couple who doesn’t have kids. Maybe we’ll be the ones who can travel at the drop of a hat, or we’ll adopt (even more) furry creatures, or we’ll be the best gosh-darn aunt and uncle EVER. Maybe we’ll adopt a child someday, if the situation is right. Maybe we won’t.
And you know what? We’re okay with ALL of those situations. Truly.
At this point, IVF is not in our immediate future. We just don’ t feel right about some aspects of it at the moment. Part of the decision is financial, and part is just that I don’t feel like there’s anything physically SO WRONG that we can’t conceive on our own (and neither do any of the SEVEN doctors I’ve seen over the years…). I just cannot justify forcing my body to do something that it doesn’t seem ready to do. Maybe that will change someday, and maybe I’ll regret not going all-in while I still have some remnants of youth on my side, but honestly? It just doesn’t feel right to me today.
It’s a lot to process, I know.
One thing that’s stuck with me though, is a conversation I had with McStabby recently. He asked me, “Do you feel like you deserve a child?”
I was taken aback a little. I honestly had to think about it.
He asked because, in his line of work, he sees women who have certain emotional hang-ups that he suspects can prevent them from conceiving, whether it’s a past trauma, a lack of confidence in their marriage/family life/maternal skills, or something else. Regardless of his motives for asking, it’s a jarring question to be asked, for sure.
After a minute, I came to a conclusion. Yes. I do. I deserve a child.
Does that feeling mean that I will necessarily have one? No. Because life’s not always fair, and sometimes the harder we squeeze a handful of sand, the more of it slips through our grasp. Just because I believe that I deserve a child, doesn’t mean that I’m going to force my body to submit to my timing.
Soo… I don’t want to just come out and say that we’re taking the “Just stop trying…” non-approach, but in some ways, we kind of… are.
Wait, wait. Before you freak out and tell me I need to rename my blog, let me ‘splain.
We’re not saying “just stop trying and a BABY will magically happen”.
What we are saying is, “just stop trying so HARD and LIFE will happen… and whatever blessings come along with life, we’ll take those too. And if a baby happens to be one of those blessings? Even better. Icing. Gravy. Time for a parade.”
It’s a strange – and strangely freeing – place to be…
For the moment, we’re just kind of bobbing along. Living life. Being married people who don’t have to inject themselves with things or ejaculate into cups.
I’m still going to continue acupuncture treatments for now, and I’ll continue taking the herbs even if I stop the actual acu treatments, just for general health and balance; honestly, I like how I feel, even if I don’t like the taste of the herbal “teas”. Between the husband and I, the door is open for me to go back to the RE if I so choose (I would be interested in seeing if there have been any changes in my blood work in a year’s time), or maybe for a possible medicated cycle one day, but likely nothing more than that.
I’ll also keep working to maintain the healthy habits I’ve gained through TCM, but I will likely stop temping someday soon.
I KNOW. Don’t freak out, or I might freak out and lose my resolve on that
little gigantic decision.
I may never be able to ignore the quality of my cervical mucus, but my body temperature, the chemical content of my urine, and what’s in my underwear will no longer have complete control over my entire life.
So that’s where I am right now… I know I’ve been quiet here lately, and I wanted to provide a little update and insight into why that has been.
I do have some exciting things on the horizon, including my Resolve Peer Led Infertility Support group venture – which should start meeting this month (!), and being invited to attend Resolve’s Advocacy Day in Washington DC, where I will have the chance to speak with members of the House and Senate on the political issues surrounding infertility treatment and coverage in the US. The husband and I are also traveling to San Francisco for a wedding in late May, and are looking forward to that little getaway opportunity as well.
All in all, life is not perfect, but it is most definitely still a good life. I’m appreciative for all I have, including all of YOU, and I’m ready to focus on what I have, instead of beating myself up for what I don’t.
I don’t know exactly what this new outlook will mean for me, my life, and this blog, but I know I will continue to be here, rooting you all on, and hoping and praying for each of you, every day.
I’ll still likely be holding out some far-fetched hope that my own body will miraculously get its shit together, too. I mean, some things will never, ever, EVER change.
So that’s it.
Year Six isn’t really a thing. Like, at all.
This is just March, just a few years into a great marriage, just a drop in the bucket of a great life.
A life I’m going to be actively living again.
My hope for you is that wherever you are in your journey, whether your life is completely saturated with the details of TTC, or whether you too are at a bit of a crossroads, that you are able to slow down from time to time and appreciate what you do have.
My hope for you is that you live that little life of yours in a way that makes a difference, impacts others, and allows you to look back fondly one day, free of regrets.
My hope for you is that you live.
…And first of all, let me calm those of you who dread blogger pregnancy announcements by saying that NO, I am most definitely NOT PREGNANT.
The rest of the story is a little harder to explain, however.
I’ll be honest, I’ve felt very strange lately. I mean, I’m still part of the infertility community, but I feel like I’ve lost my mojo. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like trying.
It’s not that I feel like quitting is on the horizon, either for blogging or for trying to conceive, but I feel very passive about both right now. Almost ambivalent.
Maybe I’ve just been on this journey too long… It will be five WHOLE years next month, after all.
Maybe I’m just tired. Tired of one thing defining me, tired of letting it rule my life… just tired.
Maybe I’m ready to stop focusing on me, and start focusing on others.
Maybe it’s time to use my powers for good.
I’ve been approved to form a Resolve support group here in my area (Toledo, Ohio, for those of you who may not know). I’m really excited to get started, and as soon as I find a location that will suit our needs, I’m going to get the group listed on the Resolve website. I’m also going to get some flyers made so I can advertise the group in some doctor’s offices here in the area.
I think this is a good step forward for me. I am ready to start listening more to others, helping them through their questions, frustrations, grief, and confusion. I’m ready to put my journey on the back burner, and focus on guiding others with my knowledge, experience, and compassion.
I think this is going to be just as helpful for me as it will be for the others who (I hope) will be joining the group. I honestly cannot wait to get started!
Now, if only the weather in the Midwest would start cooperating, I’d be able to get out there and find that dream location that has the perfect combination of privacy and public setting. Preferably with warm drinks and carby yum-yums readily available, but not obnoxiously so.
And so, I guess that’s why I’ve been a little distant lately. I don’t know where I am on this journey any more, which sometimes makes me wonder WHO I am anymore…
Am I still actively trying to get pregnant? Yes… and then sometimes not really.
So am I still a TTCer? Yeah, I guess… but then am I still infertile? Yes, but if I’m not really focused on getting pregnant, does my fertility even matter?
Your guess is as good as mine.
All I really know is that I’ve been through the wringer in the past almost-five years. I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge, both through experience, and through obsessive-compulsive research. I’ve always been drawn to helping others, so pursuing this support group setting is a natural fit for me.
My hope is that by directing my focus to helping others, that I will be forced to take my mind off my own body for a change. I think that’s what the acu-doc has wanted for me from day one, and I know that it’s something I really need now.
Not to fear, though… I’ll still be here, working on old blog drafts that I keep meaning to publish, stalking other bloggers’ pages and eagerly awaiting good news, and generally just being here for those of you who read and occasionally take the time to email or Facebook message me. I appreciate what blogging has brought to me, and the cheap therapy it doubles as in my life.
More than anything, I appreciate all of you who take the time to read, and who think of me from time to time. Thank you… You guys keep me going.
Oh, one last thing – if you, or someone you know, is in the Toledo, Ohio, area, and would like to become part of a general infertility support group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll update as soon as I have a location secured!
I don’t know about all of you, but it seems to me that things in life happen in big waves.
In my mid-twenties, my friends and I all started pairing off into more stable relationships… moving in together, joint checking accounts, co-pet-parenting, and all that jazz.
That was followed shortly thereafter with engagements.
Then bridal shower after bridal shower after bachelorette party. Dress shopping, wedding planning, alterations, rehearsal dinners…
Weddings. Upon WEDDINGS. UPON WEDDINGS, OMG. (Seriously, the year I got married, I was in three other weddings, attended five others, threw four bridal showers, two bachelorette parties, and that doesn’t even include the four bridal showers and bachelorette party of my OWN I attended. GAH.)
I was on track with the curve of adulthood back then. Everything in life was coming together, and my friends and close-in-age family members and I were all set to start moving onto the next step…
Of course, you’re here, reading this blog, so you know that this particular step is where the husband and I got a little hung up.
…And five years later, we still are.
So our friends and family members went on to start having their first babies. That was the Great Baby Influx of 2009-2010. It was a time whose insanity could only be rivaled by the Matrimonial Stampede of 2008. It was a time of chaos and joy for all.
Well, most everyone. We were of course very happy, but a little… put out, I suppose you could say, that our own baby influx was taking some time to ramp up. Somehow though, as does life, the madness waned, and we were no longer drowning in newborn baby high tide. We breathed a little easier, and got to work.
We survived those next three years by aggressively pursuing treatments, in a desperate attempt to catch up to those who had left us behind on the parenthood track. You know the story… We tried, had a small success, but ultimately failed.
That brings us to now.
I have been feeling for some time that the tide is rising again… I think the time of the second (and in some cases, third or fourth) babies is upon us. All beware the approach of the Fertile Vortex: Part Deux! (starring Jake Gyllenhaal!)
Dun dun DUNNNN.
No, seriously. People in my life are having second and third babies all over the place right now. Even some of my fellow Infertiles are fighting their way out of secondary infertility and giving their first miracles a sibling or two!
Don’t get me wrong, babies are a blessing (and no offense, but the babes of Infertiles are an even slightly bigger blessing!), and good news is GREAT.
There are some of us, however, that can’t physically take good news without a healthy portion of sadness, though…
I wish I weren’t one of those people, but alas, this is the life I’ve been dealt.
As if you hadn’t had enough of my vague metaphors, I feel just like I’m afloat at sea with no view of the shore. Every baby announcement that comes my way pokes a tiny hole in my boat, and I’m staring to lose hope that I’ll ever make it to dry land. I fear some days that I may drown in good news.
I will end this morose entry just by saying this: You guys, this blog, this blessed outlet… you all are my salvation in a rough and unforgiving sea. Hope may not be visible some days, but because of you, I don’t feel so alone in my struggle for survival.
I’ll make it. We all will.
I like ellipses.
They create drama, suspense… sexual tension, perhaps?
Anyway, I didn’t use the ellipsis in the title of this post for any of those reasons. It was just my natural inclination to taper off a phrase like “in the works…”
I know. I’m weird. It’s kind of my thing. Sorry I’m not sorry.
So, what’s in the works for me, you may be asking?
A few things, actually!
First on my list – community involvement. I’m working through the details of possibly creating a local infertility support group. Recently, I’d been thinking that I could really benefit from interacting with people outside of my usual bubble of IRL and online Infertility-Friends, but when I went to look for a local group in this area… Nada.
There are some in other larger cities nearby, but nothing that wouldn’t require at least a half hour plus drive to get there. Boo.
And so, I started looking into the process of starting my own. I mean, I know a lot of people here in the Toledo area who are going through infertility treatments, medical testing, and all sorts of other things, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe they wouldn’t benefit from the option of some face-to-face support, too.
I am excited about the prospect, and will definitely update here when/if this thing gets off the ground!
Let’s see… what else?
It’s been nearly three weeks since my last
confession blog post… Forgive me! There really hasn’t been anything major happening in that time, to be honest. I don’t have much of an excuse for not updating the blog. It’s been cold and snowy here in Northwest Ohio, and I’ve been hibernating as much as possible. I’ve also been working a TON, which is a nice change from the slow pace of the office in December.
All of these things have led me to just sort of… chill out. Which is good; it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of, honestly. I need to learn to relax, and I’m starting to get the hang of it. There is still some anxiety in my life, and I’m working through it, but overall, I think I’m starting to manage stress a little better than I have in the past. Nerves no longer keep me bed- (and bathroom-) ridden, so that’s also a nice change.
(By the way, sometimes for me, chilling out involves reading a good book, which I do often. Occasionally, it involves binge-watching a TV show. From beginning to end. In one week. I just did that with Breaking Bad, and let me tell you this: that show is not great for relaxation, in case anyone was wondering if meth production and family/legal drama/chaos would put them in a state of zen. #TheMoreYouKnow)
Oh! I’ve had some things change with Dr. McStabby and some new things in store for my TCM and acupuncture treatments, which I’ll update in another post. I will just say here that I’m happy with the direction things are taking, even if I’m not totally happy with the way my body is responding 100% of the time. I feel that I’m being heard, and that my concerns are met with interest, and that they are handled quickly and appropriately. That makes all the difference in the world, and some of my past RE’s could take a page from that book.
Hmm… any other updates I can share?
Well, I’m not pregnant. That I know of, of course. Ha. I’m being very consistent with my herbs, and slightly less consistent with my vitamins and supplements. I’m trying, but sometimes I forget.
DAMMIT. Like right now! Hang on… have to take a few pills.
Seriously. I need to set a phone alarm or something… Anyway, I’ve been working on being better about that. There are certain supplements that should be taken certain times in a day, and I try to make sure I’m doing that. I fail sometimes, and that’s okay.
I’ve managed to gain some weight, which is nice. Not a whole lot, just a few pounds, but it’s making a difference that I can see and feel. I know part of that is due to some help on McStabby’s part, but part of it is because I’ve been less strict with my diet in the past two months.
I’m no longer restricting any gluten, and I’ve added dairy back in, in a big way. I would like to eventually get most dairy out of my diet altogether, but for now, the added fat from raw, organic whole milk, cheeses, and yogurt is really good for me. I switched to Irish butter, organic and grass-fed, a while back, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m using coconut oil whenever possible as well, so there are plenty of healthy fats being consumed.
As for gluten, while I was avoiding it, I didn’t notice much – if any – changes. I am clearly not intolerant in any way, and I figure as long as I’m doing my best to pursue organic, non-GMO sources, it’s a good thing for me (and my weight).
I’ve been holding my own with sugar-consumption, too. I do still have a bit of chocolate here and there, and I put honey in my chai in the morning. I’ll even have a (organic cane sugar, no-HFCS) orange pop now and then. It’s not so bad, really.
So, honestly, that’s about it. I’ll update again soon on the changes I’m making in my TCM treatment, but other than that, I’m just here… maintaining. I hope you are all doing the same, staying warm if it’s winter where you are (and staying cool if you’re Down Under!), and enjoying life for all the quirks and oddities it throws your way.
Take care, friends.
Oh, one last thing: When I was Googling earlier, I came across this animation completely by mistake, and I found it fascinating. So here. Enjoy, and maybe learn something today, especially since this blog post was more word-dump than informational or entertaining.
Personally, I think New Year’s resolutions are complete bullshit. And apparently RDJ agrees with me.
I mean, seriously… are you really going to lose that fifteen pounds? Okay, then, maybe you will. Maybe you’ll use your Christmas cash to join a Crossfit gym or something, and maybe you’ll bust ass for two whole months…
But let’s be honest. Are you going to keep it off once the Easter ham and Cadbury Creme Eggs hit the table??
It’s not that I’m hating on people trying to better themselves. I’m not, I swear. My issue is the freaking pressure.
Okay, so 2013 is ending and now it’s time to look back on a year – a whole YEAR! 365 DAYS!! – and analyze what you did and did not accomplish. We will now allow you one day to lament your shortcomings, and tomorrow is the day you reverse it all.
January first. BAM. Time to put those resolutions to work!
Let’s look for a moment at the word itself.
: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
So, if we’re breaking it down, a New Year’s resolution is literally the act of resolving a problem or issue once the New Year begins.
Yeah. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING, amirite?
Let’s look now at the usual resolutions: lose weight, save money, relax more, get a better job, take a vacation… Get pregnant.
Okay, maybe that last one is just mine. Either way, a lot of these “conflicts” might be impossible to actually resolve, setting us up for failure before we even begin.
Lose weight? Okay, sure. So the resolution is just to lose it, right? Not to keep it off? Oh… no? So then you’re a total failure if you resolve to lose fifteen pounds, manage to lose twenty, and then gain ten back before 2015?
Save money? …But don’t spend it, right? What if you have an emergency? Your water heater blows, your cat needs a liver transplant, you have to get your car towed 200 miles to a shop that knows what the heck they’re doing while you’re taking your New-Year’s-resolution-vacation… You have to fund fertility treatments out of pocket. Where’s all that saved money now, huh?
That raise or new job you want? Totally out of your control. You can be the best employee ever and still not get to make a single job-related move in the next year…
Vacation? HAHAHA. See *Save Money, above.
How about the relaxation resolution? That’s something you can totally do, right? Spend more time at home, read more books, get a massage once in a while, sleep in on the weekends… Totally do-able.
Except for the fact that now you’re working out at 6am every morning, can’t afford luxuries like massages because you’re saving money for whatever disaster happens next, need to get into work early and stay late in the far-flung hopes that you might get laterally promoted to another menial middle-management position where you might, maybe, get a little paid vacation time, a vacation, might I add, where you can basically stay home in your sweatpants for a week because you can’t afford anything else, largely because you’re spending every last dollar saving money for a medical procedure that may or may not help you with your other resolution: getting pregnant.
FAIL FAIL FAIL.
And so, I say this again: RESOLUTIONS ARE BULLSHIT.
Why put this pressure on ourselves at the beginning of a whole new year? Why make ourselves miserable in the pursuit of… what? Competing with the Joneses?
Maybe you need to de-friend the Joneses on Facebook, that way you won’t have to look at their beautiful, fertile family that runs a 5k together every damn weekend.
And maybe de-friend the Smiths too, while you’re at it… Their social media posts about how they scrimped and saved themselves out of debt and are now taking quarterly vacations to Fiji are not helping you in any way.
Besides… The Smiths and the Joneses don’t have to pay for IVF. Or IUI. Or acupuncture and herbs. Or meds from overseas because they’re just a smidge cheaper than here in the US.
This is what I’m getting at…
We’re all different people. We’re traveling different roads in life. What others have is NOT a reflection of what we have, nor should it be a jumping off point for what we want.
Ever hear the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy”?
It’s simple enough, but so true. Comparing our lives with the lives of others does nothing to better our own life. It only serves to suppress the satisfaction we should be feeling for what we ourselves have managed to accomplish, despite what life’s put in our path.
We are badasses, dammit, and no one else’s badassery should be allowed take away from that!
And that’s why I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like the thought of competing against others for a life that’s not my own. What I need is not what others may need, and what they want doesn’t need to influence how I view what I already have.
And so, in closing, I will repeat once more: Resolutions are bullshit.
…With a few minor exceptions.
I resolve to live every day in the next year for myself and my loved ones.
I resolve to do what I need to do to make that life a happy one.
I resolve to be flexible and open to receiving what life throws my way.
I resolve to look within to determine my needs, rather than looking outwardly and comparing my life to others’.
I resolve to encourage myself instead of pushing.
I resolve to be kind to myself instead of punishing.
I resolve to allow myself to fail without apology.
I resolve to get back up and try again
if when I fail.
I resolve to admire myself for how far I’ve come.
I resolve to be my own hero.
I resolve to live my life, and not attempt to live the lives of others.
I resolve to live my life.
I want to wish you all a very happy New Year, from my home to yours.
I wish you the wisdom to see how much you really have in a world where it has become increasingly difficult to see past the pretentious displays of others’ grandiosity.
I wish you hope today, tomorrow, and for every day to come, and may it not be taken away in the face of failure.
I wish you the clarity and acceptance that comes from looking within yourself, and I wish you to see the inspiration that you are to others.
I wish you peace and understanding in 2014.
And I wish you love.
May you have it in spades, and may others be inspired to resolve to have a love like yours in 2015.
Five years ago today,
I took a new name, a new life, and became part of something bigger than myself.
Half a decade of ups and downs,
big changes and small ones,
new homes, new jobs, new facial hair (ha),
and I’m still excited to start every single day with my best friend and co-conspirator.
I love you, and cannot wait to see what adventures await us in the next five years.
All my love,
As most of us who have pursued fertility treatments have heard, there are studies that aim to prove that long term use of hormonal medications can increase the rates of cancer among their users.
Now, as with anything, there are just as many studies proving that this is NOT the case, but let’s face facts here: We live in a world where cancer is extremely prevalent, and it behooves us all to be advocates for our health in every way possible.
That little bit of information is basically a lead-in to tell you all that I freaked myself out recently, and thought I had found a lump in my breast.
I noticed during my last cycle that while I had the usual breast tenderness the last week or so of the month, it did not clear up after Aunt Flo left town as it typically does, and the tenderness that was left over was concentrated to one spot. Upon further inspection, I also noticed that there was a definite bulkiness to that small area that didn’t feel quite like the rest of my breast tissue.
I have to say that there is no history of breast cancer in my family, so I know that doctors wouldn’t exactly consider me high risk, but the use of so many different hormonal medications on top of the plethora of complete lifestyle changes I’ve made in the past few years is enough to cause at least minor concern.
Luckily, I was able to get in to see my wonderful OB-GYN, Dr. B., and he assured me that what he felt was very normal and not at all worrisome. Likely just a duct or gland structure that is slightly more dense than other areas around it, and possibly a fibrocystic area, which is quite common (and frequently due to caffeine consumption! Huh, you learn something new every day!).
Still though, it’s very important that we are all vigilant about our health, even while trying our damndest to procreate. Dr. B. recommends the usual annual exam, even when seeing a fertility specialist on the side, and he also recommends monthly breast self-exams.
We’ve all seen the little instructional cards being handed out at women’s health fairs and at our lady-parts doctor’s office, but do we really look at them?
I know I hadn’t. At least not until I was afraid that something was wrong…
And so, the girl who has literally zero experience with breast cancer, breast exams, mammograms, or pink “Save the Ta-tas” bumper stickers, is going to give you a quick tutorial (which I poached from good ol’ Pinterest) on breast cancer in general, and frisking your funbags for preventative medical purposes.
Because it’s important, that’s why.
Everybody got that?
Love your lady lumps, mmkay?
Love them monthly, and don’t hesitate to bring any concerns to your doctor, because as we all know (and as I repeat CONSTANTLY):
I know it’s been quiet around here (all of my recent posts seem to begin with some incarnation of those same words, I knooooow…), but I honestly just don’t have a whole heck of a lot going on right now!
Well, that’s not entirely true.
Since the last time I posted, there’s been a development.
Another year older, another year
wiser smart-assier, I guess. The thing about birthdays is that they used to be fun for me, a reason to celebrate.
Recently though, each birthday inches me closer to our wedding anniversary later in the month, which just reminds me that it’s getting closer and closer to that FIVE YEAR mark of trying, and failing, to build a family.
I want to point out that while I am feeling physically great lately, and have so much faith in the TCM treatments I’m receiving, there’s only so much confidence can handle before it starts to falter under the crushing weight of statistics and odds…
I guess I wouldn’t really care about getting older if it were just gray hairs and wrinkles I had to deal with, but each birthday I think about my poor, sad, aging eggs, and I wish on whatever birthday cake, pie, cupcake, or plate of bacon that they can just hang in there for ONE MORE YEAR.
Honestly, I just need them to feel all rejuvenated like they’ve been at the egg spa for the past few months, which is how I justify spending out of pocket for acupuncture treatments and gobs of Chinese herbs… Those pampered bitches probably feel like some desperate housewives up in here, but it’s time for them to earn their keep!
Anyway, I know that thirty-three is not the end of the reproductive road, and as Doctor McStabby keeps telling me, I have time on my side. At least part of me believes him, but the other, darker side of my subconscious thinks that I started this journey at age twenty-eight, basically on the later end of the average woman’s reproductive prime. Now I’ve reached the final stretch…
Thirty-five is the point at which you start dipping your toes into the “advanced maternal age” pool. If we’re looking at odds here, they get lower and lower with each year that goes by, and the more I age, the less chance I have at a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Sometimes it feels pretty bleak to think about the uphill battle I feel I’m fighting. Sometimes it all feels like too much, as I see childless friends of ours living their lives to the fullest. Sometimes that seems like maybe not such a bad life…
And then other times I see my friends who had kids when they planned to, friends whose reproductive capacities haven’t dictated the terms of every month of their life, and those friends are seeing their offspring off to school every day, working on their careers and their social lives, and generally just living a whole, full family life.
This is what I see all around me, and I feel like I’m in such a rut. The worst part is that I feel like I’ve taken people down with me. The poor husband, our families, all of our friends. We’re in that awkward married couple tween phase where we’re not quite newlyweds but we’re not quite parents either.
And we’ve been in that awkward place for almost five years.
That shit gets old real fast, yo. And not just for us, I’m sure.
Some days I wonder what we would even be talking about if we weren’t on this rabid pursuit of parenthood. What if we had decided that we didn’t need to have kids? What would we be doing now? Traveling? Climbing corporate ladders? Spending every last dime on making sure our house is outfitted with the very newest of every Apple product on the market?
Maybe. Except the Apple part… We’re Droid folks.
And what if we had managed to have a family right away? Would we too be shuffling a kindergartener off to soccer and ballet and whatever else it is that the kids practice today? Would we be potty-training and watching Yo Gabba Gabba and child-proofing our cabinets? Would we spend that precious after-work time helping with homework and making a family dinner rather than cooking meals for two whilst watching Jeopardy in our sweatpants?
But that’s the wicked What If’s leaking in… There’s no sense in going there, as it only leads to heartache and regret, neither of which are conducive to fat, happy, relaxed, and mature (but not too mature) eggs.
I suppose the best I can do is try to be happy with the life we’ve made for ourselves while living day to day on this seemingly never-ending path.
And by day to day, I obviously mean in two week increments.
If you’ve been trying, failing, and living with infertility for some time, what are some of the “infertility milestones” you’ve reached?
How have you dealt with them? And have they caused you to reconsider your path?
At what point do you just say “Stop. This is far enough. It’s time to go back…”?
I’m not there yet, but I can see it in the distance.
There’s light at the end of this tunnel, but these days I’m not entirely sure it’s the light of a resolved infertility journey, or the light of accepting a childless life.
Where are you in your journey?
People often ask me how being treated with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine differs from being treated in an OB or RE’s office… I usually respond by muttering something snarky about the amount of needle pokes, but truthfully, there are a lot of differences!
I’ve been thinking about and adding to this list for a while now, and I hope it helps someone who is just getting started on their infertility journey and is wondering what path to take, or someone who has been on their path for some time now, and feels that they need a change of direction.
Little to NO blood work with TCM vs. Lab blood draws 3-5 times per Western cycle
Acu appointments are as relaxing as lying on a warm massage table with soft music playing while taking a little nap vs. Stressful and sometimes humiliating “get in the stirrups for Dr. Dildocam” RE appointments
TCM practitioners practice open, honest communication vs. Doctors and nurses who sometimes hold your lab results hostage until you blow a gasket over the phone
No nasty drug reactions with TCM or acupuncture vs. Western meds that can cause hot flashes, nausea, headaches, and other even nastier side-effects like OHSS
Naturally guide your body to better all-around health vs. Forcing your body into submission with synthetic hormones
Less risk of multiple births vs. Some Western meds and treatments where multiple birth outcomes are commonplace, risking the health of mom and babies
Acu and TCM influence you to clean up your diet vs. Western meds which make you emotional, irrational, and generally like a narcoleptic T-Rex, eating everything terrible in its path. And then napping.
Acupuncture and TCM are often not covered by insurance policies, forcing out of pocket costs vs. Infertility treatments with an RE, which are sometimes covered up to a certain point
Acu and TCM require patience, and seeing results can take 3 to 6 months with treatment vs. Western meds and in-office monitoring, which offer immediate gratification (and delicious lab results to obsess over!)
Acu appointments may happen as much as once or twice per week for the treatment period vs. RE monitoring which typically lumps the bulk of the appointments into the beginning of the cycle
Acupuncture and herbs can only do so much for someone with a severe case of whatever-is-causing-your-infertility vs. Western medicine’s ability to diagnose and treat – sometimes surgically correct – issues which Eastern medicine just can’t combat effectively
I’m not gonna lie: herbs taste gross when brewed as a tea, but some come in capsule form vs. Western meds which mostly come in pill form… Or as injections and suppositories, which are also not fun…
I realize that I threw a lot at you there, but it really comes down to this:
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been around for thousands of years. They are tried and proven effective for many, many situations and different types of people – especially for fertility.
While TCM can’t be expected to treat everything under the sun, the success rates for fertility, while hard to pinpoint due to erratic research information, are there. There are no (or very few) side-effects, you’re healthier and less stressed while you’re committed to the program, which helps to enrich your life in general, not just in the baby-makin’ department.
Western medicine is nothing short of a modern miracle with its ability to combine egg and sperm in a petri dish, and create life outside of the womb. There’s no substitute for what doctors and nurses can do in labs, but Western medicine also isn’t your only option. Your Ob-Gyn may not know what to do with you beyond a few cycles of Clomid, but that’s no reason not to educate yourself on the choices you have for your body and reproductive future.
If you have Unexplained Infertility, PCOS, or Endometriosis (and other fun diagnoses!) and are tired of feeling hormonal, defeated, and anxious, then Acu and TCM may be worth looking into.
If you’re struggling with a severe diagnosis, a physical abnormality like fibroids or a tubal issue, or are just not capable of giving three to six months to this process, then stick with that RE.
Stay with your RE, but find out if they will allow you to solicit the help of an experienced and fertility-specializing Acu/TCM practitioner during your Western treatments.
I truly believe that everyone can benefit from at least some aspect of this process, whether it’s the dietary and lifestyle changes, the herbs and supplements, or the acupuncture-induced zen relaxation.
I don’t think I’ve met one person who has seen an Acupuncturist for fertility that has regretted their pursuit of the Eastern path, whether it worked for them directly, indirectly, or perhaps not at all.
…Fine. You win.
Happy Hump Day, y’all!
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