Ideas

Last cycle I thought about saving the supplies (the tops of the needles, the gauze wrappers, the paperwork inside each Gonal-F box,…) and using them in an expressive art piece to illustrate my journey. But this cycle, I don’t feel like it. Seems like a shame that I’m not up for saving my trash and turning it into treasure, but that’s where I’m at. 

These 6am injections are rough ….

Zzzzz

Here we go…

Well hello there! It has been a long time.

I haven’t wanted to think about infertility let alone write about it or read about it. I needed distance and space. And I need ME back.

I was in such a bad place after surgery and why wouldn’t I be? I gave myself space and time. Then, in early May I saw my RE and we made a plan.

But first, more rest and renewal. My hubby and I went on a beautiful trip to Sedona, Arizona at the end of last month and got some renewal in soul and heart. I wouldn’t call it restful (we were really on the go!) but it was fun and inspiring.

Sandstone
Lower Antelope Canyon, Page AZ (this is AMAZING)

Of course AF started when we arrived (cd18!!!). OF COURSE. Why wouldn’t it? My cycles have been so off. Previous month was 44 days. None of my docs seem alarmed. Perhaps my body is readjusting to being down an ovary.

So I started estrogen (which I believe is called an EPP, estrogen priming protocol), because I was pretty set on not wanting to be on the BCPs (they made me so sick last time). And I’ve ordered my MicroDose Lupron and GonalF. Some issues getting the drugs but definitely not as bad as in December. Wayyyy less stress.

I’ve honestly been hoping I’d have conceived without hormone stimulation because I think I actually ovulated this month and we gave it a few tries.

Well, today, hello AF.

Heavy sigh.

Will my lack of enthusiasm prevent this IVF cycle from working? Should I be in a total state of YES? Believe me, there are a lot of uncertainties in alllllll of this journey. But because I can’t a.) freeze time or b.) build a time machine, I have to move forward. And trust. Big big big trust.

The post op visit

It’s confirmed. I am an endo-sister.

I saw my surgeon today for my post op visit. We spent the time talking about how the pain (when I laugh too hard or sneeze) is normal and the depression I feel is sorta normal.

He told me that there WAS endometriosis INSIDE my left tube and ovary–but none outside the area, just mad adhesions. I asked him about cysts and endometriomas and if there was anything else “weird” that was found in my ovary after it was sent to pathology (my imagination likes to run with random nonsensical scenarios…you know, like there was a tooth and a spinal column found in there…name that movie). And no, nothing weird.

I said that I was just trying to make sense of it all. He threw his hands up in a surrendering pose and assured me that there are things we just can’t know.

That’s always been a strange comfort to me and as good enough an answer when there are no other answers.

Now, I’m cleared to call my RE and get going on any “intervention” Dr C called it and to start having sex again. But only when I feel up to it all.

I am not up to anything at all. I’m tired (normal). My energy is so low (normal). I have pain (normal). I’m depressed (sorta normal). I don’t want to call and talk to my RE and I certainly have zero interest in intimacy.

It’s only been just over two weeks since my surgery and yes yes I know I’ve got to be more patient and accepting with myself — to look at myself through the eyes of my heart and have deep compassion for all I’ve been through.

I told my husband tonight I just wanted to go away and do some deep intensive healing work to “get it all over with.” Like going in with an ethereal scalpel and extracting the emotional pain in a psychic surgery. I picture a yoga ashram with my own personal therapist who will nurture me into my best self.

Oh the dream!

I have been doing some deep healing work though over the last 6 or 7 years, at the same time as “new” stuff has cropped up (infertility being one of them…not “new” but newly in my clear view). But I’ve also been going through the motions of life — work, etc. — while I work through pain.

Isnt that the way “most people” go through healing in life, though? By working it in among the laundry and the paperwork? It’s a nice-to-have luxury to be able to excise oneself from everyday life to go and live on a mountain top somewhere where they grow their own organic food and start their days with ting-sha bells and chants of OM. But wow does that sound just like what I’d love to be living right now. I’d just like to step back into the womb right now, complete with nag champa incense and meditation pillows.

So poor hubby has a wife whose emotions are raw, spirit is low and doesn’t want to have sex nor is excited about the idea of more appointments with a fertility specialist. Does it mean that I don’t want kids that badly? The answer is foggy.

My inner wisdom tells me to give myself some time, compassion and understanding. I’m still healing from surgery. I’m understandably overwhelmed by everything that has happened and all that could.

Meanwhile, my sweet girl cat has been sticking to me like glue. If I’m sitting, she wants to be sitting with me, as close to my face as possible. When I’m lying down, she wants to be not just near me, but on me. (Am I the one who’s needy or is she??)

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While I’m writing, I want to mention that I found the blog The Art of IF and plan to submit digital images of the art journal pages that I’ve done, which are now the rotating banner of this blog. If anything, infertility has given me an intense topic to create art around. I specialize in creating art around intense topics. 😉

Another step along the way

I’ve always felt the yearning to chronicle my life. I’ve kept a diary/journal since I was little. I loved to capture what was going on in life at each step — as if I’d ever need to return to the history and make sense of whatever was going on.

Whenever a lot would happen during a time frame and the time in between journal entries became wider, I would procrastinate more and more, in the anticipation that it would take me so long to fill in all the details of previous days.

That worry is needless. Sometimes, all of the details are not important. Sometimes, it’s just the lessons learned, the highlights or the most essential elements that I  can trust myself to extrapolate from all of the details so that I can weave a story.

Here is where I am today: I am recovering from surgery #2 that I had two weeks ago. I see progress every day, but I still feel the need to rest, go slow, and listen intently to my body, emotions and mind. A slow mile walk is still just a little too much (and this is from someone who loves to walk a couple miles daily and do Pilates).

After the trip to the hospital on Jan 10 with that excruciating pain, my RE referred me to a reproductive surgeon. My RE did not want to proceed with IVF until I had another opinion and look at what’s going on in my abdomen.

The surgeon, Dr. C, impressed me with his knowledge and compassion on my first meeting with him. I went into the office just wanting to gather information — I was very reluctant to have surgery again. My thoughts about surgery (and my husband shared those thoughts) was that if I was going to have surgery JUST so I could give IVF another shot, then no, I’d pass, and we would consider adoption.

Welllllllll, it wasn’t that simple. Dr C gave me lots of reasons to have surgery to remove my fallopian tube — one being that since it’s blocked on both ends now, it’s like a balloon. And that balloon might fill and fill. Maybe it would be fine. Chances are it would be fine, but did I want to wait around, watching and wondering on every twinge, every inner stabbing twang, if I was going to be “ok”?

I also realized that if we were to say no to surgery, no to another chance at getting pregnant, I would need to seriously grieve that loss. I’m not ready to shut that door and begin grieving and moving on. Even though I honestly feel like we will probably end up adopting, I want to give myself one more chance at conceiving. And that meant taking out that tube.

Interestingly, too, after reviewing all of my previous medical records and notes, and talking to the surgeon who did my surgery in October, Dr C did not want to definitively call what’s inside me “endometriosis.” He called them adhesions. I’d been sticking to the word endometriosis after the October surgery … because my doctor had called it that. However, when she and Dr. C talked, she didn’t want to call it definitively endometriosis either. (WHO KNOWS?!)

Friday, February 10 I went in to the hospital for Dr. C to do laparoscopic clean up of adhesions and to remove the left fallopian tube. It was possible that my left ovary would have to be removed too. He explained that. I understood.

But it didn’t prepare me for the emotions I felt on having that happen. Because it did. I woke up from surgery and asked the nurse what was done. She told me he had to remove the tube and ovary.

And I cried. I felt the loss.  My already dwindling reserve has been cut by 50%. My ovary was a part of me that I never paid much attention to until that left side started to hurt monthly, in the last couple years. Now, it’s gone.

oophorectomy
from my art journal

Never in my life did I imagine my steps to becoming a mom would turn out this way. I never visualized how motherhood would happen; I just assumed it would. I assumed that I would marry a man who would fulfill me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That I would have a job that would pay my bills and give me cushy life and inspire me. That I would easily conceive, and a child would be a surprise us and delight us. I say all this, but I had never been the type of person to project into the future and dream about my perfect life. When I was a kid, I never played “bride” or “mommy,” despite being a nurturing caretaker of a bizillion stuffed animals. I was busy trying to sort out and accept life as it was then — through journaling and writing out the emotions, desires and fears I had as a young girl.

I can’t say I’m all that much of a driven person. I like to live comfortably. I love to do art and explore healing and self-growth. I spend a lot of time trying to get myself into the present moment, but often I’m stuck in the pain of the past. It’s a challenge to visualize and dream what it is that I want out of life.

In my 40th year now, and through this time of slowing down and recovering, I’m asking myself more, “What is it that you want?” I don’t have the answers yet. But I keep asking. What do you want out of this life? What is it?

.  .  .

On Monday morning, I’ll see Dr C for my post-op. I will gather my questions. I also want to tell him how much it touched me that in those brief seconds before losing consciousness in the OR, I remember him holding my hand and helping me visualize that I was going to go rest on a beach in the Dominican Republic. For four days after surgery, he texted me to make sure I was doing ok. I’ve never had a doctor who is so accessible to his patients. His tenderness is something I won’t forget.

Even though I’ve been through a lot since August 2016, when all of this began in full swing, I feel incredibly supported. I have resources and a support structure that is available to me all the time.

One more thought: I have some people in my life who are all about “positive thought.” “You’ve got to think positive,” etc etc. It’s a well-meaning sentiment, and the power of the mind is strong over the body. But this journey is emotional — on so many levels and layers — and those emotions are worthy of being expressed. I’ve found that the people who tell me “just think positive” are the ones that can’t handle my intense emotions. So you know, those people aren’t ones that I bring my tougher emotions to.

This journey is emotional. It’s stretched me farther than I knew I was capable of being stretched.  And I know it’s just another beginning.

Endometriosis!!

Spent the day in the emergency department today because I woke up with the most crazy pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and pass-outedness ever. I’ve never felt that way in my life. My husband had already left for work. I made it from the toilet to the floor to get my phone and call him and my doctor. My doctor thought I might be dehydrated and maybe having an appendix  or diverticulitis issue…. 10 hrs, a CT scan, the longest internal ultrasound and a pelvic exam later, the ER obgyn (who conferred with my fertility specialist) feels it is related to endometriosis and the fact that I’m waiting for my period to start. !!!!! Suddenly since this infertility journey, I’m experiencing more pain than ever. Not encouraging. So frustrating.

As I lay in bed this morning I thought “what if we live life as if we are happy no matter if we have children or not?” Shortly after that, pain started.

I’m unsure I’m ready to broach that topic with my husband. I must though.

Baby shower success

Today I drove an hour to go to my friend’s baby shower — that was really a non-shower since my friend is not a fan of having attention put on her.

I love driving. It’s a time when I’m not being pulled in different directions from coworkers, Facebook or my husband. I’m able to focus on me and the road.

Half way there, listening to music by my friend’s band on the stereo (a different friend and one who’s also going through IVF), I started to get teary. Was I making a mistake by going? Could I handle it?

of course I can, said my inner voice. Of course. No matter what state I’m in.

And I did. It was beautiful, sweet, simple and genuine. I liked hearing about her annoying birth class she had yesterday and how she put her dog in the crib to test it out.

I ended up sharing briefly with the girls there that I was going through IVF and immediately had vulnerability regret. I share too much. It’s ok but I still wonder why I feel like I always have to share so much of me. The mom-to-be friend has known about my experiences and was curious about how things were going.

How am I today? My back and my left hip hurt. I have a chiro appt tomorrow. I have herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, so I struggle with back pain. (My chiro also thought it was interesting that endometriosis was discovered on my left side, since I’ve seen him for 10 years and we never knew about the endo until this October.) I’ve been kinda bloaty-feeling. I’m doing a 28-day slo-mo detox, too, one I’ve done before, and is just about eliminating the inflammatory foods and adding in the alkalinizing foods. It’s also about taking radical self care, which I feel I need a ton of right now. Since we’re in this period of non-action and anticipation for the new regime, I feel detached from the IVF process. My doctor has me on CoQ10. That’s about as much action as I’m up to.

I often wonder though how long this process will take and where is it leading us. My dad and stepmom bought us a gift card to fly down to visit them in Florida. I’ve told them that I can’t make plans for awhile. And I feel like they threw that back in my face with the gift card. Who knows how long my life will be controlled by my cycle.