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glass of red wine that spilled

My contracts finished last week, so I’ve been able to go through the homework from our adoption training sessions. These have to be handed in during our next homestudy this weekend.

I’m finding it really difficult to get through these questions without crying at least once. Admittedly, I get depressed when I’m not working. Add my period to the mix and the fact that I’ve never gotten over that little bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ve miraculously conceived… and suddenly, I’m not in a good headspace. I thought after we made the decision to adopt, I’d get over it, but that’s not entirely true all the time. Guess I’m just feeling the loneliness of being in a new town so far from my friends, the anxiety of being unemployed and hopelessly infertile.

Here I am, answering questions about the life I would give a child. I’m forcing myself to imagine all of the things we’d do together as I prepare responses to the questions on what I can do to support their development and what DH and I have to offer. First, I imagine all of the birthdays and holidays with our families. Then, I’m imagining that I’m sitting anxiously during our first visit to our family doctor. Next, I’m asked to take stock of our life and inventory all of the things I can offer a child to satisfy the basic needs of life, the amazing extended family that are all waiting his/her arrival, the Church and school which are both walking distance, the parks and conservation areas where we’ll go on nature walks….

So, I’ve spent the last week imagining the life I so desperately long for, answering questions that some people never have to consider and it feels like it’s breaking my heart.  I know it’s simply part of the process, but it’s just so hard.

It’s been a sucky week. Sorry for the whine. I’m sure things will turn around next week.

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Dear Large Bookstore Retailer,

Thank you for figuring out yet another way I can be marginalized because of my infertility. I thought I’d experienced it all, but you proved me wrong.

This weekend, DH and I drove into the city and decided to waste some time surrounded by books. I went to check out the parenting section to see if there were any books on adoption. I walked past the first set of bookshelves… no books there. Okay, maybe the second set of shelves… nope, no books there either. Third section: nada. Well, let’s move down to the obscure fourth shelf.

And there, at the very end, were the adoption books. While the plural form, “books” is grammatically accurate, it doesn’t really seem to capture the disappointing collection of “two.” I looked up to see what this section of books was apparently labeled so I’d know better for next time: “Alternative parenting.”

Oh.

Alternative parenting? Is that like alternative rock? While I do like alternative music, is there another way we could categorize the adoption section? Granted, infertility has shunted us out of the “mainstream” but really, do you have to reinforce this further?

Anyways, dear Large Bookstore Retailer, I suppose I’ll retreat into my dark corner for now with the rest of the alternative folks.

Thanks for trying.

The countdown is on to our departure date. I’m starting to feel a bit better than I did during the last post: I honestly think the PMS is getting worse and worse as I inch closer to menopause. Fun times.

With the boxes accumulating and the rooms emptying out, the fact that we’re leaving this community is beginning to hit home. Most of the time, it just feels like I’m going on vacation… but as I say goodbye to my favorite people and special places, I feel a sudden panic that makes me want to cling to what’s familiar. I’ve been able to experience a lifestyle few people get to see, and for this, I feel very fortunate.

But, somewhere along the way, I became the one who lost the baby… the one who can’t have kids… and this is how I’ve come to define myself. It may not be how others see me, but it’s definitely how I see myself. I recognize that this isn’t healthy.

As much as I’ll miss this place and the great friends I’ve made, I have to admit that I’m looking forward (and hopeful) to whatever life brings us next. The opportunity to lose myself in a larger city is appealing.

This move is a nice distraction. Although it’s tiring and we both have aching muscles by the end of the day, it’s a nice break from the regular infertility obsession. Hopefully, it’s also burning a few extra calories, so I can get back to my “city” shape (ha ha!), as I shed the layers of puffy, cold-weather outdoor gear for more fashionable urban-wear!

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile. My family came up to visit for a couple of weeks and the weather was unbelievably beautiful. I spent as much time as I could outdoors and away from the unearthly glow of my computer.

I’m glad to see the arrival of August. I was feeling pretty dejected in June: IVF #2 didn’t work, I had to face the fact that I would likely never experience pregnancy; and my job (and pregnant co-workers) were getting me down. AND, possibly the last straw…my new fish died.

Inexplicably, life went on… and for today’s Show-and-Tell: I have a beautiful new fish!
IMGP7483

I’m not sure when this happened, but it feels like the tide has changed and I’m not mired in so much despair about our infertility. It used to rule my life. It fed my anger and jealousy. It also kept me hidden from a world that just did not stop breeding. But now, I’m going out more and I realized last weekend that I had made huge strides when I could actually chat with a new mother and her baby and not feel emotionally drained afterwards. Heck, I even picked up a baby last weekend and it didn’t send me into a tailspin of depression and self-loathing. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?

I’m not sure what’s happened, whether it’s time that is healing, the resolution that I am no longer actively ‘trying’ to get pregnant, or the fact that we’re now playing the waiting game for an adoption. I just don’t know. All I know is that I’ve got a new fish and feel like I’m finally in control. I sure hope this feeling lasts.

blue fighting fish 2Now swim over to Stirrup Queen’s show-and-tell and check out the rest of the class!

Oh wow, I really don’t have much to say anymore. The failure of IVF#2 marks the end of the road for ever bearing my own biological child. Though I know I will love any child that we welcome into our family (I hope and pray we have this opportunity someday), there’s still a sadness to this realization when it hits. I guess any ending is difficult. It’s especially hard when fertility seems to surround me.

My relationship with one co-worker is better, despite the fact that our workstations are appallingly close. When she chats on the phone about her pregnancy, I simply turn up the volume to my music (don’t worry, my alternative 90s rock only fills my workspace). My other coworker is in the city, but when she left, she was extremely positive. She confided in me that her brother has heart issues but is perfectly fine. I’m hoping all goes well for her and that she returns soon. My boss returns shortly for a few weeks before leaving again to meet up with his wife and new baby. All this happiness and new life around me is enough to make me want to set my hair on fire.

But, I can’t let it get me down. Sometimes I do, and I allow myself to wallow in misery. But sometimes, I try to look to the future and focus on other things… like our adoption. And my post-grad studies which are nearing completion ( I’ve got to buckle down and finish my final research project ASAP!)

FredoAnd today my new fish died! Before we left the city, I bought one of those fighting fish. I got him through airport security successfully in 90 ml of water. He survived the flight in my purse in a water bottle. Unfortunately, the aquarium kit I bought was incomplete and did not have the water-treating dechlorinating stuff that you need, as was promised on the packaging. They don’t have any pet stores where I live. I tried to use bottled water that had sat out for a few days and had arranged to have some dechlorinator sent up this week. Well, my poor fighting fish fought the good fight, but this afternoon, I found him quite dead. I took the dogs for a walk along the bay, and set him free there (I can’t bear to think of him going into our sewage). I hope he’s got lots of fresh water wherever he is. ☹

Okay. Well, that didn’t go as expected, but such is life.

Don’t get me wrong; my current zen-like attitude was paved with more than a few tears over the last few days. But I can only look ahead or go completely insane.

DH and I spent the weekend with my family. I don’t get to see them much, since it’s so expensive to fly from the village, but they’re only a 6-hour drive from this city. It was a great distraction. My mom likes to feed my poor husband. She’s one of those moms who’ll slip more food on your plate when you’re not looking. I don’t think we’ll eat for another week (especially since I’m absolutely determined to lose the weight gained from the two IVF cycles).  We also took my parents to see an Abba tribute band. I defy anyone to stay sad while listening to Abba!  The guy playing “Bjorn” looked like he was out of place though… he had the long, curly, rocker hair and we suspect this Abba-thing is a side gig from his regular job rocking out to AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. If you closed your eyes, they were pretty convincing!

So, in a week, we fly back to our little village in the middle of nowhere. Am I ready for that? Absolutely not. Returning to work to see my pregnant co-worker is not going to be easy, especially since she suffers from pregnancy-brain and prattles on about her pregnancy symptoms regardless of the current work-related discussions. Oh well. She was annoying before she was pregnant, and she’s even more annoying now; no love lost there.

I guess when we get back home, we can focus on the next step: adoption. We submitted our application to initiate the process before we left in April. Unless I win the lottery soon, IVF #3 is not in our future. Well, I won’t rule anything out just yet: maybe if I just save a little more money, if an estrogen-priming protocol might be worthwhile, and we move from the village before I’m 40… maybe, just maybe, the conditions will be right for #3. I’ll wait for the follow-up with my RE before considering this.

Thanks to you all for your support during our recent journey. It was great to know I wasn’t alone.

Now, I think it’s time I searched for the perfect mojito…  🙂

Okay, so it’s been a week since my transfer, and it’s a week away from my beta. The temptation is definitely there to pee on a stick. Yah, I know I know… the HCG could still be in my system. I’ve read it can last in your system two weeks, though others say it’s gone after 6-10 days. Part of me wants to try… since my odds are not great, I sort’ve want to know it’s negative before being told that it’s negative (does that make any sense?). But if HCG IS still floating around, I’ll have false hope from a false positive and feel devastated. Augh. My head knows it’s a bad idea to do this, so I’ll try to refrain. During IVF#1, I easily resisted the urge during IVF#1: why is it so hard for IVF#2?

Fortunately, this weekend, I’ll have a fun distraction: my husband’s sister and brother are coming up for a visit, so we can cruise around the city’s sites, maybe catch a play… It should be fun! It’s definitely nice to be in the city again, and it’ll be a lot of fun to share it with family. If I’m to count my blessings, my amazing in-laws would definitely be counted.

staircaseI thought I was safe from the vortex of infertility obsession: checking out web stats in various permutations on 3-day transfers… IVF success rates, success by age, by number of embryos transferred, by grade, protocols, previous diagnoses… You get the picture. I had this month all planned out too! I’d keep myself busy by blogging, completing the revisions for the final paper for my Masters, taking the dogs out for long walks in the local park and tackling the mountain of work from my day-job. Yet, I STILL spend endless hours mired in the spiral, with Dr. Google.

It’s a dangerous place. I go through these obsessive phases where I can’t seem to find enough information on infertility, though it happens less frequently now than during the first, disappointing couple of years when we started TTC. I definitely spiraled during my first IVF. And until recently, I’d been pretty good about staying away from the endless searches on the computer for information and stats on women going through IVF#2.

I really have to get some work done and stop obsessing. Anyone have any ideas on how to do this? I guess fear of getting fired, or failing my Masters should be pretty good motivation! Well, tomorrow is another day, and I did plow through a few pages of work. I even almost forgot that I was in the 2WW for a little while. Sigh.

dice3I’ve been feeling blue since Wednesday when I was told that out of the 3 eggs retrieved, only 1 fertilized. I spent most of Thursday in a daze, waiting for a phone call that would tell me we lost the last, precious embryo, and right up to the moment I walked into the clinic this morning, I was expecting to hear “We’re so sorry, but…”

But, miraculously it didn’t happen.

I know the odds are against me. I’m in my late 30s. Only 1 embryo was transferred. And it’s a 3-day transfer instead of a 5-day. But we still have that 1 embryo. After my pre-transfer acupuncture treatment, the doctors came in to say that the little embryo looks really good, it’s dividing well, and shows little fragmentation. Finally, the first good news since the retrieval!

We went back to the room with the comfy chairs, and I let my bladder fill… and fill… and fill…! I’m not a big person and it doesn’t take much to fill my bladder, so the nurse let me ‘release’ some before the procedure. I think that’s the worst part of the whole IVF process. In the surgery, we got to see our beautiful embryo on the screen, and I was really happy to see that one of my favorite doctors would be performing the ultrasound while another doctor completed the transfer. I didn’t feel a thing, other than my very large, stretched bladder. It’s also really fascinating to watch everything on the screen and see the two little bubbles that come through the catheter, knowing that the little embryo is floating between them. After the process, I returned to the acupuncture room and felt wonderful, knowing that there was something inside of me: I don’t know how long it will stay with us, but right at that moment, it was in there, hopefully looking for a place to call home for the next nine months.

I’ve read in some places that success at IVF is like winning the lottery. But you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket, and though only one precious embryo resulted from this IVF treatment, this one gives me better odds than I’ve had in the last 3+ years.

Not much to report today… it’s weird to have a day with no meds as I prepare for retrieval tomorrow. I’ll admit that I was a bit sad to do my HCG trigger injection last night. That could be the final needle I ever give myself, since this is our last IVF. And I’m still nervous about tomorrow! Even though I’ve gone through this before and all was fine, the thought of someone perforating my innards to get at the follicles is freaking me out. Calm thoughts… deep breaths…

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my eyes closed, waiting for headaches to pass. It’s got me thinking about conversations with my pregnant and/or fertile friends who really have no idea what it’s like to ride on the roller coaster of infertility. When I talk about the frustration and depression associated with infertility, loss or miscarriage, I can see by their expression that they just don’t get it.

cactus2All of us who have experienced infertility or miscarriage are pretty amazing women. We’re warrior women! We’ve experienced incredible sadness, frustration, ignorance and insensitivity. We’ve placed our feet in countless stirrups, had numerous painful tests [“you’re putting what where ?”], and oh, who can forget the needles, Lord, how many needles do we have to endure for blood work, for medications, for acupuncture… We’ve experienced the scorn from peers who don’t understand, who make assumptions, who call us selfish, who have strong opinions on assisted reproduction, adoption, international adoption and surrogacy, yet, they’ve never been in the situation themselves.

Still, we keep going. No matter what people say, what they think, how much physical or emotional pain we experience, we find a way to cope. Ladies, if I ever needed an army of women to go into battle with, I would want you on my side.