Being Tested

I am a teacher and I am well aware of what a test means. It’s meant to assess my skills, my knowledge, my ability to move forward with what I’ve learned. Of course, with all tests come anxiety and uneasiness. No matter the student. No matter the preparation. Everyone dreads tests. I still remember the bio test I failed junior year of high school. And the motorcycle test I failed while trying to get a new license. But as a teacher, I do believe we have lots to learn from tests. If we are open-minded and willing to embrace where we went wrong, research shows we can move forward not only more quickly but also with great success. So it is with this mindset that I am moving through this IVF. I am on a different protocol. I am going to acupuncture like it’s my job. I am just more at ease with it all. But … there’s always a but …

Sometimes I feel like I am just being tested. Not for my ability to follow directions or shoot medication into my stomach or relax. I am being tested as a human. As a woman. Does anyone else feel like this?

When my mother first had her stroke when I was 23, life as I knew it (within my family) changed. The mother I had up until that point died and I was gifted another similar yet very different mother. Don’t get me wrong, we still had adventures and lots of good fun together, but physically and mentally my mom wasn’t the same. Her left side was paralyzed. She couldn’t work. She required near round the clock care. At the ripe old age of 23, I felt like I was handed a shit deal for I didn’t want a new mom. I liked my old one. But my mother always said, it happens for a reason. I learned to be a good caretaker. I learned patience. I learned to keep things in perspective. I learned that saying I love you at every opportunity is the only way to operate.

When my mother died 3 1/2 years ago, I felt like I was being tested again, but her death tested me in new and different ways. I was 32, married, settled into a job, just thinking about starting my own family. Her death tested my resolve. My ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. I realized that little matters outside of your loved ones. And I realized that nothing short of the death of a dear loved one hurts as bad as losing your mom.

Rightfully so, I feel I have been tested enough. There are times when I think that my mom died before I went through IVF so I would always think … it’s not as bad as when my mom died. But then I also think that going through IVF without your mom just sucks. It’s a whole other kind of test because I am striving to be the one thing I no longer have.

So what’s the come of all this testing? A fellow IVF survivor said it will make me a better mother. It will teach me patience. It will teach me to see the larger picture. And while I agree with her in terms of motherhood, I really think it comes down to one simple thing: I can do anything. Now, I don’t mean to say I’ll be in the Olympics in a few weeks or running for president in the fall, but throw me a challenge, ask me to rise to an occasion, test my ability to persevere, and I will. With a strong body, mind and spirit, I will.

Ultrasound #2 showed eleven follicles growing. There is a leader and two stragglers, but I am responding better than the last time. Phew. I head back on Friday for ultrasound #3, and the doc thinks retrieval will be on Sunday. I will be on stims some two days longer than last time, so let’s hope that helps my wee little eggs ripen up.

**A small, additional note: I re-read my older posts and realized that in my first IVF cycle I only had FOUR follicles in the works. Holy shitballs! I’ve got more than double. I would shout out loud right now, but Hubs is napping on the couch.



Imagination Cul-de-sac

I am not crazy, but today I heard something profound. It didn’t come in yoga or in some great piece of literature. Rather, it came from a 45 second clip I heard on NPR. Some musician was talking about the power of the imagination and how we can imagine the path before us. The problem with most of us, he said, is that we’re in an imagination cul-de-sac. This got me thinking. I don’t believe that everything I want is out there. I’m not pessimistic; I’m just a pragmatist. I also don’t believe I can “call in” everything I want if I focus hard enough. I’m not lazy; I just know that bad shit does happen to good people … like me and all the other infertile girls I know. So why did this idea of an imagination cul-de-sac strike a cord? Well, I think it did because I’ve been in an infertility cul-de-sac for more than two years. And I’m ready to break out. I know that this desire to break out comes with some risk. My breakout might include kids or it might not. Both options come with their own pros and cons, but, regardless, I’m just tired of where I am. I’ve put a lot of things on hold for our baby-making efforts. We’ve put a lot of time and energy and money into it, too, and we’re ready to move. (Not to go all English teacher on my readers, but this is what James Joyce focused most of his work: stuckness.) We’re ready to be somewhere else. Aren’t you?

Here’s to a new road map, a new street, a new neighborhood. Here’s to a road that doesn’t involve a turnaround or a dead end. Here’s to the certainty that anything, everything is better than being stuck in the land of if. Here’s to using the word when.



A slight crack in the wall

The last ten days have been crazy, to say the least. Hubby and I flew across the country for a wedding, shipped our dog up north for a breeding (let’s hope at least she can get pregnant!), headed into the backcountry with seven high school seniors, and sat through a graduation ceremony. Sheesh. And into the mix was thrown yet more news of someone else’s pregnancy. What the fuck? There is something going around. There is something in the air. Women in my life are getting pregnant by mistake, with ease, and with no thought. Again, what the fuck?! I am playing by all the rules, taking care of myself, going to acupuncture, drinking nasty herbal cocktails twice daily, feeling the zen in yoga … but I can’t pregnant. So I had a pity party for myself yesterday which involved a few of the following: 1. shopping for cute outdoor accessories for our back patio, 2. eating an amazingly delicious swirl soft serve cone dipped in hard shell chocolate!, 3. having a few beers with friends, and 4. organizing a summer BBQ for next weekend.

It’s funny, just when I think I am centered and in a place of acceptance about our currently infertile situation, I become overwhelmed with it all. The grey area, the land of if, just consumes me. Do you know that feeling? I know all of this is also being compounded by the fact that we’re ramping up for our second IVF, and I’m scared shitless. I know that I have done everything in my power to set us up for success, but so much of IVF is not within my control and that’s the hard part. That’s the part that cracks my armor of self confidence. That’s the part that brings me to my knees.

To help seal up the cracks I have much to look forward to in the coming weeks. Namely, my BFF is coming to town with her boyfriend and we’ll have a glorious weekend together! There’s also baseball. Lots and lots of baseball games. I am wildly in love with the sport. Nothing like a Wednesday day game to remind me of the good things. Throw in a hot dog and some peanuts, and all is right with the world.

In other news, I loved ICLW. What a treasure to have so many new visitors to the blog and to read the stories of so many other women. Is it weird to find comfort in other womens’ struggles? To find some sense of a shared experience for this entire sucky process? So to those of you who blog and those of you who commented here, thank you. I am so grateful for finding this community of women. I’m sorry such a shit thing has brought us all together, but I do believe I am stronger because I know all of you.


The fear factor

Ok, maybe this picture is a bit over-the-top, but there are moments during all of this infertility stuff when I feel exactly like this. The caption changes from “What the fuck?!” to “I can’t handle this anymore!” to “Does anyone else feel this way?”, but underneath most of my feelings about infertility and motherhood or the possibility of the former keeping me from the latter is fear.

I’m afraid that I’m not going to become a mother.

I’m afraid that June’s IVF will fail.

I’m afraid that we’ll get over-stretched financially.

I’m afraid that I don’t know if my real fear is not being a mother or not getting something I think I want.

I’m afraid of my own judgement and what I think of myself because I cannot get pregnant.

Today my doctor tried to allay some of my fears. Yes I have a low AMH (.91), but I never had childhood cancer. None of the women in my family struggled with infertility or early on-set menopause. All of my other test results are within the normal limits.┬áSo why then, my doctor wondered out loud, was I faced with infertility? “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “There’s nothing in your record that says you cannot be successful.” His comforting way is the reason a friend recommended him, and his comfort surely helped squash some of my fears. But, and please don’t judge me as overly cynical, I’m still scared. I feel like life in the grey of infertility — you’re not in the black of motherhood or the white of being childless by choice — is a place I am eager to get out of. More importantly, I’m eager to move out of this state of fear and into a place of even greater acceptance and gratitude for my life.