Secondary Infertility: What I’ve Been Telling Myself

It’s no secret that Mr. Grouch and I have been trying for Baby Grouch #2.  We’ve been “not not trying” since she was only a few months old, and we started seeing our reproductive endocrinologist again back in May.  As we embarked on this journey for a second time, I told myself I’d maintain a positive attitude.  That I wouldn’t get sucked back into a self-pitying hole.

I’ve been telling myself  that I should be grateful for my family of three, when so many others are struggling to become parents for the first time.  I am grateful our process wasn’t as long, expensive, or invasive as what many others have endured. I am so very, very, lucky and I tell myself not to be greedy.

I’ve been telling myself that no matter what, I’ll be happy with the family that I end up with, whether we can ride as a group in a small sedan or if we require a van to haul us around.  I have a smart, interesting, silly, happy, curious and delightful one year old who amuses, thrills and amazes me each and every day.   She defines beauty, inside and out. And, if she’s the only child I am able to have, I couldn’t have been blessed with a better little human being.

Yet, a nagging whisper coming from inside me keeps saying But I want one more….If one is this good, two can only be better.

So, as we’ve begun the second round of fertility treatments, I’ve been telling myself that we got pregnant using this combination of meds the last time around, so it should work again this time, and that I just need to be patient.

I’ve been telling myself that I should relax, and if the upcoming blood draw turns out to be a big fat negative, that it will be okay, and we can always try again.

But, apparently it doesn’t matter how much I tell myself those things, however true they may be.

As the two week wait comes to a close and the blood draw date looms ahead, I can’t help but feel incredibly anxious.  I can hear my heartbeat and feel it in my throat.  My face is shiny, sticky, slick with sweat.  My hands are shaky, my knee won’t stop bobbing when I sit. My breath is labored, shallow, my lungs are tight.  My high pitched voice barks at those around me and while I try to rein it in, my responses are often short, brash, sharper sounding than I want them to be.  At first I couldn’t pinpoint my anxieties, but now I know why.

I don’t want the test to be negative.

And even though I have no control over the outcome, and my rational self knows “if not this month, maybe next month” the horrible dark little corner of my heart whispersmaybe never...  And it chews little holes inside me with those words, turning my insides to mush, and squeezes my juices out of the corners of my eyes.

I guess it isn’t just this test that I’m anxious about.  My overreactions, which at first glance appear to be over a relatively trivial event, are really projecting my true fear. Going through this process again (for how long?) with maybe nothing to show for it in the end, other than mountains of bills and valleys of disappointment.

But, just continuing to go through the treatments in an indication of hope, isn’t it? That I must think it’ll work out in the end, and that, in the not-to-far future, my heart will be doubly full and this will all be behind us.  So louder than the dark voice, I keep telling myself.Don’t give up

secondary-infertility-300x300

secondary-infertility – what i’ve been telling myself-300×300 (Photo credit: Argyropoulos)

If you liked this post you may also like: The New NormalTop 10 Things Infertiles Want You To Shut The Fuck Up About, and the other pieces in my Infertility/Pregnancy page.

A Comprehensive Pre-Pregnancy To-Do List

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy preparedness: Things you’ll want to do before you get knocked up – in no particular order.

1.  Start telling strangers in line at the grocery store and strangers you’re connected with on social media that you are pregnant and that you are  planning to formula feed.  Take notes when they give you loads of valuable advice about infant feeding.

2.  Stare at your naked self in the mirror and pinch the flabbiest part of your belly.  Sneer at it in disgust. Then, try to imagine that your flabby belly will never again be this toned.  Pat your (soon to be thought of as toned) flab and tell it you’ll miss it.

3.  Google childbirth worst-case scenarios.  Develop extreme anxiety.  PANIC.

4.  Stock up on your favorite seasonal treats, since you don’t know what will be available when you crave it most.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat your Thin Mints.  You will need them later.  TRUST ME. Scavange boxes from your friends and family if you can.

5.  Drink copious amounts of vino.  You’re really gonna miss this stuff.

6.  Attend a natural childbirthing class and ask questions like, “What is the herbal equivalent to an epidural?” and, “How many six packs do I need to drink to help my milk come in?”

7.  Keep a box of tissues in your purse at all times.  When you want to be pregnant, everyone else around you will become pregnant. Teenagers, nuns, your eccentric uncle.  EVERYONE.

8.  Go to yoga.  You’ll need the core strength to sustain a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.  You’ll need the breathing exercises to offset the breast-feeding advice, childbirth horror stories and immaculate conceptions going on all around you.

9.  Kegels.  Yes, you need to do them.  Start ’em now.  Do them in the car, do them at work, do them when you empty the dishwasher. You’d better get used to multi-tasking.

10.  Drink more wine.  Relish it.

11.  Research baby products and read each and every review.  Buy fifteen books reviewing the products and then buy three more books reviewing the reviews. Create an elaborate wish list.  Go register for products and get so annoyed with the process that you just scan the first two items on each shelf. (*Note – those choices will work out just fine).  Pass along books along to the nearest pregnant sap.

12.  Sex it up.  If you’re struggling with conception, sex will quickly turn into a chore you have to complete in between laundry and online banking.  Once you get pregnant, your husband will worry about poking the baby.  Right after having the baby, you’ll worry about breaking your pelvis.  When the baby is older, you’ll both choose sleep over sex.  It’ll be a couple years before you’re both in the mood (and that’s when you’ll start trying for your next baby).

13.  Read up on the importance of infant schedules and sleep training.  Try to do 100 pull ups, walk across hot coals, and hold your breath for 4 minutes under water.  These three tasks will better prepare you for the inevitable realization that carefully planned schedules and techniques won’t work out for you in any way, shape or form.

14.  Start slathering on the cocoa butter.  If it doesn’t prevent stretch marks, it’ll at least smell like coconuts and make you think of the beach.  Once you’re pregnant, keep using it but know that you’ll feel less like a Hawaiian Tropics girl and more like a beached whale.

15.  Start spending time with other people’s kids.  Their whining, incessant chatter, tantrum throwing and disgusting drooling will prepare you for what is to come.  Let me remind you that evolution has programmed us to love our own so much more than our neighbor’s.  Don’t be afraid, your own will be amazing.  A science refresher is always valuable.

16.  Relax.  Because we all know that unlike ovulation, balanced hormones or healthy uterine linings, this is the true key to conceiving.

Any other advice for those who want to be parents?

Call Me a Fanfaron This Week

Ok, I’m going to be a little boasty, braggy, hippity hoppity.  I can’t help it, I just might explode – this week has been sort of amazing.  I have had a lot of horribly dark weeks, and this one is shiny and bright and remarkably different than those.

FRIDAY: I am starting a support program for students on the Autism Spectrum at the high school I work in – we will be piloting it, starting in September.  A local news channel  interviewed me last week, along with a parent and student in the program, and ran a segment about the program on the 5 o’clock news.  Bonus: My excessive facial hair was not overly noticable, even with the high def cameras.

SATURDAY:   A record number of views today on my Accidental Marathoner post made my day!  I also got a piece of “fan mail” in the form of a message on my fb page from someone who had enjoyed the post.  The message said this:

Congratulations on your achievement! Besides it being your own personal achievement, you’ve inspired countless others you’ll never know. This is … a great thing in light of ALL the events of the past week. 4 of my children will run in the Illinois Marathon this coming Saturday (the first for all of them!). I shared your Accidental Marathoner blog with them….truly inspiring, very much the truth, they agreed. I just wanted you to know that what you write makes a difference.

Um, can you say BEST EMAIL EVER?!

SUNDAY:  I ran my first marathon.  Despite not running for two years before having my baby, and running the race 7 months post-baby (the point being: I did not feel NEARLY as strong as I think I should feel before running a marathon), I decided to just go for it. I had a great experience, and my time beautifully corresponded with the whole reason I ran the marathon in the first place.

MONDAY: Our news story aired a second time, on the local news channel’s morning program.  I could also walk down the stairs pretty comfortably – something I was not anticipating after the 26.37 miler the day before.

TUESDAY:  Baby Grouch got her 2nd tooth.  I know I had nothing to do with this, but I sort of feel like I do because I MADE HER (Double bonus:  I MADE A BABY –  still pretty excited about that).

WEDNESDAY:  I thought Saturday went well, but today I was completely overwhelemed with the number of views, replies and comments on my post in honor of Infertility Awareness Week.  This far surpassed my previous record on Saturday of most views on a post.  I had a lot of people share the Top 10 list, and there were so many women who said that this hit the nail on the head, that it said what they felt, but were often too afraid to say.  It is sort of amazing when you realize you aren’t alone, and there are so many others who understand you.

THURSDAY:  I dropped the cap to my water bottle, but then immediately caught it ON MY SHIN before it hit the floor and I lifted my leg up to return said cap to my hand.  Clumsy and yet SO coordinated at the same time.

And ALSO, I got my first piece of hate mail!  It was very exciting and occurred in the form of another blogger posting about how my Infertility Awareness Post pissed her off. HAH!  She didn’t actually point out much that she didn’t like about it, other than a) my agressive tone (absolutely guilty as charged, that was the idea) and b) when I said infertiles didn’t want to hear pregnant people complaining about their whaleish pregnant bodies.  Her huffiness made more sense when I noticed she had JUST written a post about how horribly whaleish she’s feeling because she’s got a big pregnant body (I’m paraphrasing here).  I get it.  Other side of the coin and all that.  I’m not offended that she got offended.  Plus, the fact that she hated it helped me raise awareness even more, so I thank her for helping me accomplish my goal.

Perhaps I was linked into her post an effort to draw more readers to her blog.  If that’s the case, I guess the joke’s on her, because I’m really a half-assed blogger and I don’t have that many readers! She must think I care deeply about my readership numbers since she felt the need to point out to me that she wouldn’t have bothered complaining about my post publically if she had noticed ahead of time that I wasn’t a “big time blogger”.

FRIDAY:  A few months ago I entered my infertility story (the nice one, not the bitchy one) into a writing contest.  And guess what? I won a $400 prize package –  money towards a vacation destination and also money towards future services at the fertility center that hosted the contest.  Maybe enjoying a free weekend away will make my husband less annoyed that my face is constantly shoved into my computer keyboard.

I also utilized the word “fanfaron” which came in my word-a-day email this week.  I never remember to practice those words.

Ok, I’m done.  I’ll be humble again, now that I got that out.

For all you jealous types, don’t worry, I’m sure next week I’ll get rear ended, drop my cell phone in the toilet and my cat will pee all over the living room carpet.  Because, that’s how life works.

How Pregnancy Is Turning Me Into My Husband

Here is a list of my pregnancy transformations so far:

1.  I’M A SASQUATCH:  Okay, disclaimer:  I have always been a hairy girl – with hairy arms and hairy eyebrows.  Have you seen my 7th grade picture yet?  HAIRrendous.  So, naturally I married a beautiful Greek man, who has big brown eyes, a strong jaw, and very healthy hair follicles.  In other words, a true man.  Hair growth occurs in cycles, and falls out in cycles.  This balance of growing in and falling out results in you ending up with a relatively constant amount of hair.  BUT.  Fun pregnancy fact:  Hormone changes result in less of the falling out phase.  Which means….SASQUATCH hairiness ensues.  All I can say is I am glad I had a tad bit of laser hair removal in the past – and I can totally see mommy-daughter hair removal sessions in my future.

2.  I’M SLEEPING WELL:  Ok, that’s sort of a lie.  BUT,  I’m sleeping better. Even though I’m still waking up constantly throughout the night, to pee, to guzzle my liter of water I keep on my night stand, to move my restless legs, or just …. because….I still have felt more rested, and I have noticed a significant reduction in the number of dreams I’ve had.  My husband has zero issues sleeping or feeling rested (even though I am quite sure he has sleep apnea – he has broken his nose several times and not corrected the break, so he cannot breathe through his nose – and I can hear him snoring, and his breathing stop and then re-start all night long).

3.  MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS WHERE IT SHOULD BE:  Even though I work out regularly, maintain a relatively healthy diet and am within the normal range for body weight, my blood pressure has been pretty damn high for about 5 years.  So, I’ve been on blood pressure meds for that time (which, I will point out, coincidentally matches up with about the same length of time I’ve been married.  Coincidence?  Hah).  Even with the meds, my blood pressure has still been a little higher than the standard metric of 120/80 – more along the lines of 135/85.  My husband, however, who works out some, who eats healthy sometimes, has always had incredibly good numbers in the diastolic and systolic department – usually around 117/70.  Now that I’m pregnant, my blood pressure has been matching his.  Maybe it’s the new pregnancy-friendly meds, maybe it’s lowered stress, or maybe it’s the 2nd trimester honeymoon period, where blood pressure tends to drop a bit anyway.  Since I’m considered high risk due to the blood pressure history, let’s hope that keeps up!

4.  I’M A COUCH POTATO:  During my first trimester I was instructed by my doctor to not work out and to sit on the couch.  At first this was due to several large ovarian cysts on my left ovary, a side-effect of the fertility drugs.  The cysts were so big that when the doctor first saw them in the ultrasound, he thought they were on my right ovary – but in reality the weight of the cysts had dragged my left ovary to that side.  Later in the trimester I had some significant bleeding (scary!) and was put on “couch rest”.  Which my husband LOVED since his favorite hobby is watching t.v. and movies.  Now I am working out, but not nearly as much as before, and am resting more than ever.

5.  I GAG WHEN I BRUSH MY TEETH:  My husband can only use one type of toothpaste.  Most toothpastes make him gag, which I always thought was really odd.  Even the one that he can tolerate will occasionally make him gag; I have heard him at the sink and it kind of creeps me out.  We have our own separate toothpastes in our own drawers.  But now, I can only use HIS toothpaste – all of the other toothpastes make ME gag.  Even his does, sometimes.  I really can’t complain though, as this is the closest I have gotten to morning sickness throughout my pregnancy.

6.  I HAVE A BELLY:  It’s not a huge round basketball belly yet, but my goodness is it bigger than before.  MUCH BIGGER.  Crap, it might be as big as his….

7.  HOSTESS DONETTES:  What?!  Who eats those things?  I mean, besides my husband?  Fake, processed, bite-sized packaged donuts with a hard, waxy chocolate coating, that could probably last for decades without molding.  Typically if I am going to go for a processed goody, I’ll choose something like Cool Ranch Doritos, or Pretzel and Cheddar Combos or cheddar popcorn.  Something salty.  Apparently this baby has my husband’s taste buds.

8.  I’M GASSY:  I’m pretty sure all husbands are gassy.  But I never understood how guys could just fart.  All. Day. Long.  And special ones in the morning.  Until now.  Now, I get it.  It just can’t be stopped.