Wordy Wednesday – Book Review

The Edge of the Earth – Christina Schwarz – June 2017 – Genre: Drama/Mystery

This book was haunted, like an 18th century house. It was unique, interesting, and yet – I felt like everything wasn’t completely resolved as they finished it. I didn’t enjoy the depressing under tone, although I did like the story. It was well written and did suck me in, but I wanted it to be happier than it was.

Still Missing – Beth Gutcheon – June 2017 – Genre: Mystery

Oh my god…anyone who loves a small child, have a stiff drink before you read this because this book contains every parent/caregivers worst nightmare. It is scary, exciting, devastating and completely terrifying – and yet an excellent read. I was up into the wee hours of the night finishing it, because I just HAD TO KNOW what happened.

Between Friends – Kristy Kiernan – May 2017 – Genre: Drama

This book could be a little raw for some of you – so please keep that in mind before reading – it is about infertility, surrogacy, and the complicated relationship that develops between friends connected by surrogacy. It was a good read, but I found it both predictable and a bit cliche. Honestly – I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Drowning Ruth – Christina Schwarz – July 2017 – Drama/Mystery 

In this book, the author presents a deeply emotional topic in a way that is both admirable and enthralling. She weaves the story in a way that first leads you to believe the character is insane, then not insane but selfish and a little psychopathic, to realizing she is just a normal person experiencing an impossible turn of events who is trying to do the right thing at great personal cost. I didn’t love the way some things didn’t resolve – but I did not feel the story was left unfinished by any means. I would definitely recommend this book – but please note it includes baby loss in it.

Where we are now

In case you missed it: check this out first. 

Where are we now?

Well, we’re feeling relieved, and angry, and sad, and frustrated…in that order. But still, I don’t think there is an ounce of us that thinks we should dive into IVF.

To rewind – for some time (like, I’m talking 7 years or 2555 days or 364 weeks or 84 months or approx. 70 cycles) we have tried our best to conceive without too much medical/surgical intervention. Medical and surgical intervention is a beautiful, miraculous thing and I am so happy it exists – but for us, we have always known we would not do much in the way of medical/surgical interventions (for plenty of reasons: health, prognosis, side effects, anxiety/fear, finances, the fact that I have only one ovary/ fallopian and stakes are high if I have an ectopic or another cyst, etc.). This is the one thing we have consistently stuck by, and believed in, though out these rocky years.

We have tried pretty much every vitamin/ mineral/ miracle substance/ essential oil/ acupuncture/ massage/ work out routine / diet you can think of to help boost our fertility. We have tried BBT, CM charting and fert.ility fri.end. Mr. Big has not been in a hot tub or worn anything tighter than boxers in 5 years. We have tried prayer, meditation, Reiki and even human sacrifice (just kidding on that last one). We have tried “relaxing, and letting it happen” and we have tried “Sex three times/day, every day”. I have peed on every kind of stick there is to pee on and I have had enough of the fun and glamorous fertility testing (I’m looking at you, dildo cam wearing a little condom hat) to last me a life time. I have taken the ovulation inducing meds, the hormone replacements, the meds they give you to combat the side effects of the aforementioned meds, and – of course – the prenatals that are so huge they should be inserted, rather than swallowed.

And then, four weeks ago, we approached the point in our infertility journey where we need to move forward with IVF, or stop.

We spent countless hours and days thinking, wondering and worrying about those two options. Lots of things went through my mind: “if I REALLY wanted a child, I wouldn’t even consider stopping”, “I’m letting down my parents, my in-laws, my sisters, my nephews”, “Mr.Big should leave me and marry someone fertile”, “What kind of a woman am I when I can’t even do the ONE thing women’s bodies were *made* for?” , “If I were stronger, I would be fighting to the death for this”, “Maybe the reason I can’t have kids, is because I shouldn’t”, etc. etc….

Then, we finally decided to listen to our guts: it is time to stop.

The decision was not, and continues to not be, easy. Every day I go back and forth and wonder if I made a mistake, if we just try one more cycle… but I know if I don’t stop myself, everything that we DO have will fall apart. I love children more than anything in the entire world – but we know, inherently, that this is not the path we are meant to be on. We can feel it in our hearts, our minds, and our souls. The damage that is being done to ourselves is immense already (as you all know) and this is not the way we want to become parents.

We have battle scars. We’re both heavier, with more unhealthy habits than we had pre-infertility and our levels of self esteem are so low, they’re in a heap on the bathroom floor most days. Social settings – once fun and relaxing – are now awkward and uncomfortable because everyone in our life is a raging, fertile parent or parent-to-be. The questions and comments at these social events still bring me to my knees. I have one less one ovary and fallopian due to a “twisted cyster”, believed to be brought on by the med. cocktail I was on. I can’t remember the last time we went on a vacation (actually, have we ever??) because we were always afraid to book one in case I got pregnant and we didn’t want to worry about cancelling if I was sick/ high risk/ if the area had dangerous virus (like Zika)…so we just didn’t book anything. Our entire life was on hold, waiting for the day when our HPT would come up positive… for 2555 days our lives have been on hold.

I don’t know what the future has in store for us. I sure hope it involves raising and parenting children – but if it doesn’t, I can accept that too (that makes my throat burn just to type that…so maybe rather than “I can accept that too”, I should say “I will work to accept that too, should that be our path”). I am so blessed in that my sisters allow us to have an active role in our nephews’ lives, allowing us to be a part of so many of the things we would otherwise miss. Our lives are not void of the blessings of parenting, they’re just structured in a slightly different way.

Mr. Big and I are still in recovery mode, trying to piece our selves and our lives back together. I think we want to take a vacation (one that we’ve been putting off in case I got pregnant), and then we will sit down and enroll in some adoption and fostering classes and get thinking about this next phase of our lives.

 

Wordy Wednesday – Book Reviews

It has been SO LONG since I did a book review… I did my last one a while ago.

So here it is – what I’ve been reading since then:

Season of the Dragonflies – Sarah Creech – April 2017 —- Genre: Drama / Fantasy

I like the way this book was magical, existing and is heroine centered. I found a lot of it a little too out there (and I love fantasy…but I think I prefer a completely fantastical world, not just a little bit weaved into regular life). I didn’t find myself inhaling it, but it was good. I would recommend it to anyone who was interested in a light read.

Kiss River – Diane Chamberlain – April 2017 — Genre: Romance/Historical

This was an easy, light read. It had a bit of mystery and some romance. I’m not usually a romance reader – but it was nice and easy to read – the words flowed easily together. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a light read and doesn’t mind romance.

Boy Still Missing – John Searles – May 2017 — Genre: Mystery

I’ve recently discovered a love for Mystery novels. This was no exception – it was well written, exciting and I think I finished it in 6 hours. It’s sad, but completely consuming and reflective of the era it was intended to represent. I would recommend this to mystery lovers.

The Light Keeper’s Daughter – Jean E. Pendziwol – June 2017 — Genre: History/ Drama

This book was all shades of emotions – sad, happy, exciting, scary, depressing… yet, I completely enjoyed it. I don’t usually love the books written from the perspective of an aging person, about their childhood because I don’t love when books flip flop between eras – but it was really good. I would definitely recommend this one, but I’d be careful who I recommend it to because it does have a child loss in it.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – July 2017 – Genre: Drama

In highschool I read Alias Grace – I loved the way it was written, but hated the open ending. Well, I feel exactly the same about The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve stated before my feelings about books that end wide open, without resolution. Still, I am glad I read it and I would love to sit down with Margaret and pick her brain about what SHE thinks happened. I’m not sure if I would recommend this…it’s a bizarre book, like Atwood loves to write, and it is definitely not for everyone – especially since it talks to candidly about fertility, infertility and loss.

#Microblogmondays – Confessions

I had one of those weekends that digs deep beneath the facade of your life, and rips from it (sometimes painfully) the truth of who you really are. There’s this thing that I’ve been rolling around in my brain for a while now, at first it began as a this little niggling that has grown into something much more. I cart it around like a dirty secret, guarding it from everyone, terrified to share it…but I need to share it. So here it is…my deep, dark confession early on a Monday: I don’t know if I want kids anymore.

Do you know what Mr. Big said when I told him? Yes, I feel that way too.

Here we were, carting around this scary, debilitating secret – privately, but in tandem – and we didn’t even know the other was having the same scary thoughts.

We spent Sunday morning in bed, wrapped in each others arms, having one of those heart to hearts that define your relationship. In the end, we determined 3 very important things:

  1. We still love kids. We LOVE kids. If kids came easy to us, we’d have a hundred at least four by now.
  2. But they don’t come easy to us, and this path – the one we are currently down while we TTC – is not only something we actually don’t want, but it feels very wrong for us. We both dread it in the way you dread a colonscopy.
  3. We would rather be a kick ass Aunt and Uncle, happily married, dedicated volunteers of many causes, dog parents, musicians, and productive members of society than go through what we will need to go through to become parents.

So where does this leave us? I don’t actually know. Mr. Big doesn’t know either. I guess that’s kind of how life works, isn’t it? All of us in this together, not really knowing. I can finally say I actually understand those bloggers who choose to pull the plug on conventional treatments, and just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I am there, now. Totally there. It doesn’t mean I don’t still hope for a miracle, that we will conceive, and everything will be ok. It doesn’t mean the idea of living out our life childless doesn’t fill me with sadness right now. It just means that we won’t, we cannot, commit to this life any more. Those of you who are deeper and further into it than me are amazing – and you deserve every thing you work and pray and hope for – because this shit is hard. Harder than anything I have ever been through – and for us, it is too hard to continue.

I’m not sure how, or what, we will tell our families. I feel the need to tell them something – perhaps just that we’ve decided to stop treatment and let life happen? I don’t know yet. I just know I can’t do this anymore, and neither can he.

For more on #microblogmonday, please see Mel’s blog Stirrup Queens

#Microblog Mondays – PCOS is Fickle

Has anyone noticed how fickle some reproductive conditions can be?

I have PCOS. It’s supposed to be what is causing my infertility, yet the only symptoms I have are irregular cycles (range between 28-42 days), occasional annovulation and a visibly polycystic ovary noted on my last laproscopic surgery. Yet I know people with PCOS, with pretty much every symptom in the book, who are conceiving easily and without issue.

What gives? Why does PCOS chose some people and not others? How come it seems like every PCOSer I know, who is not doing half of the things I’m doing to be healthy, is getting pregnant while I remain barren?

I’m trying really hard not to be bitter or jealous, but I’m losing that battle. I’m not even sure if it’s bitterness or jealousy, it’s mostly just incredible, consuming sadness.

Sometimes, life stinks.

What do you do to get away from the bitterness/jealousy/sadness?

For more on MicroblogMondays – click here

Thoughtful Thursday – POAS PTSD

Does any one else have an anxiety filled, PTSD like reaction to the mere idea of POAS?

I do – and it’s become such a big thing that I cannot use one. It literally makes me sick.

We have been TTC for 6.5 years. In those 6.5 years, I have peed on thousands of tests (HPT and OPK). Not one *NOT ONE* has ever been positive…this is closest we’ve ever been to a positive of any kind.

I’m currently a ball of anxiety because I’m at that point in my cycle (CD39) where I should take a test…. but I just can’t bring myself to do it. The devastation (and it is devastation) is too hard for my heart right now and I just don’t think I can handle it. I can’t deal with the downslide that comes from the inevitable negative test … the self loathing, the sadness, the anger, the frustration. And then , when it is negative, I just convince myself that I didn’t take it at the right time, or I ovulated later than I thought and therefore may be too early to a positive HPT…and so I keep taking tests over and over, until I finally get my period and then slide into the abyss for 5-7 days.

It’s a violent, penetrative cycle…and it’s easily my most hated part of infertility. I have an appointment for blood work on July 14th…by then I should know for sure…but I don’t know if I can make it.

What do you do – HPT or wait for blood work? Does anyone else share in this fear?

Microblog Mondays – Empty Parking Lots

See more about Microblog Mondays at Stirrup Queens!

First of all…Happy Father’s Day to all the men in the world who love and nurture little people – whether they share a biological connection or not. There are not enough of you.

I made the mistake of going shopping with my father this weekend. Which is painful, at best, and plain hellish torture at worst. But, you know, it WAS father’s day so I spent the day with him while he meandered around 5 million 5 different stores looking for the same big item (new riding lawn mower) and comparing them to see which one had the best deal (and then, oh it gets better, we got to go BACK to the stores we’d already been to because he could not remember if they had *insert minor detail that he may or may not ever use* and then how could he determine which was the better deal??). So, while I love my Dad dearly – I typically avoid shopping with him for big ticket items at all possible cost. He can shop for normal stuff like a normal person, but when it comes to big items  – well, let’s just say, I used to have two sisters who died from boredom and exertion after being carted around all day looking for a new washing machine (Just kidding, they’re alive and well and managed to avoid this shopping trip because they were at home with their husbands and children celebrating Father’s Day (side note: infertility in a fertile family sucks balls)).

Having said all of this, I would like to note that I noticed two things on my excursion: #1. Despite the pain of this shopping trip, my Dad is hilarious and I couldn’t be more blessed to have him in my life (love you Dad!!). And he knows all the best chip trucks!

#2. There are two types of people in the world when faced with an empty parking lot – Type A drives directly across the empty parking spots to the exit since the lot is empty and Type B who drives AROUND the empty parking spots, as per the lines and signage, to the exit even though the lot is empty. I am Type A, my Dad (as you may have already guessed) is type B.

So let’s just say it was a long day. And in case you’re wondering, after all that, he decided not to buy the mower because the sales guy hinted there was a deal coming next weekend. *facepalm*

What did you do this weekend? Would you be Type A or Type B?

MicroblogMondays – Books unfinished

Have you ever read a book that, once completed, left you with more questions than answers?

I’ve recently read a couple in a row that are like that. The author introduces a character, or an experience, or a memory that begs for more – and then seemingly forgets about it and never addresses it again. The whole time I’m keeping it in the back of my mind, wondering when the writer is going to tie it back into the story – but then the book ends, without a single mention of it again and no plans for a sequel (in case you’re thinking they’re laying the ground work for more). I have no idea if this is intentional or accidental – but it drives me bananas. When I read a book, I like a nice clean ending unless there is a sequel coming.

What about you? Do you like to be left wondering?

* For more on Microblog Mondays-  see Stirrup Queens.

 

Fertility Update

It’s been quite a while since I gave a little fertility update…so it’s overdue.

Here is a little background:

  • Started TTC 6 years ago, with zero success
  • After 1 year, diagnosed with “probably PCOS” – no blood markers, no insulin resistant, no visible cysts on the ovaries but a family history and horrendous periods and sent to the top PCOS specialist in the country
  • Determined to be annovulatory and tried 3 cycles Clomid, break, 3 cycles Femara, break. No BFP – just a myriad of awful side effects and an emergency surgery to remove a ballooned cyst that contorted and killed one ovary and fallopian tube. Post surgery – advised that IVF is the only option and referred to the regional fertility program.
  • Got almost to the actual retrieval, and panicked and cancelled it all. I was having horrific side effects from the meds, I was struggling emotionally and we were across the country from all of our family and support systems. Mr. Big agreed I needed a break, and in that time we packed up and moved back home to be closer to family.
  • Over the next year we worked on getting healthy, losing weight (60lbs, woot woot) and settling into our new house and new life – so glad we made this move! It was absolutely the right thing for us.
  • Around September of 2016 I started to get the itch again. We had been just “letting it happen” for almost two years without success…so I approached my family Doctor who was super supportive and we came up with a game plan. Since we have known fertility issues, we opted to try naturally for 6 months and then move on to an RE. Because so much has changed in my health, we will need to start again from scratch – but I’m OK with that. I had just turned 30 and felt like we have time to work from the bottom up…and I really hate any kind of fertility meds because I seem to get every side effect, so I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.
  • I had a bunch of blood work and tests, and they all came up great.
  • In March, we began our 6 months of TTC prior to RE referral. So far, no natural pregnancy…and despite that we’re not using any hormones, I am feeling like crap all around (as though I am using Clomid). Due to that, my Doctor orders some extra blood work which ends up showing I have Hypothyroidism (which is new, as I had my thyroid tested last year and it was all normal). So yay – Hypothyroidism (not). The good news is that it can sometimes cause a lot of the issues I’ve been struggling with, so getting this under control is good for my fertility. The bad news is it may make no difference at all… but that’s OK. It’s still worth a shot!

And otherwise, we are just waiting and seeing! 3 months of TTC down, 3 more to go before we get out the big guns.

Microblog Monday – Turning 4

For more on Microblog Monday – and how you can participate to – see Mel’s blog, here.

Just under 4 years ago, we brought home Chops – our first dog (now we have 3). As we were both dog people, we knew it would be a fun adventure…but I had no idea how fun. So many CD1’s I have spent curled up in bed, with Chops pressed into my back loving me when I was too sad to love myself.

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So even though you can’t read, Chops, nor do you care about my words unless they are bacon and cheese wrapped – let me tell you what I’ve learned from you:

  1. Know who your people are and love them with your whole heart, always. No matter what they have done or haven’t done recently (RIP evening walks). Love them anyway, especially when they are too tired or sad or broken to love themselves, and then love them enough for two people.
  2. Live like someone left the gate open. Approach everything with the energy of 100 toddlers…even if it’s trying to catch the turkeys (that you will NEVER catch since you can’t fly) that taunt you in the field by the house – burst through that door and into that field like a cannon, any way, even if they were already in the air before you finished taking off. Or when your Mom is throwing out a band-aid that you think may or may not be a delicious piece of bacon since they ate bacon sometime last month – lunge for it, and eat it like the champ you are (barf).
  3. Take chances on things that seem out of your reach (See flying turkey reference above)…and try, even if you’re likely to fail.
  4. Food = life. Eat it, enjoy it, and be thankful for it because there is always someone who would give anything for what you have (including a drooling, shameless dog pressed to your thigh watching every…move…you…make….).
  5. Nap and stretch, often. Rest, relax, refill your cup. You can’t be awesome 100% of the time – enjoy your down time, so you have the energy to lunge for the illusive turkey when it comes around.
  6. Don’t apologize for who you are. You are unique and special, and the world needs you. Even if you’re a jerk who steals your mom’s spot in bed EVERY TIME SHE GETS UP TO PEE because you like the warmth and – girl needs a pillow – and then play dead when she tries to move you. Even then, be yourself.
  7. Know your value. Be brave enough to stand up for your worth, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. If you know you’re as valuable as a person who gets to sit in the comfy chairs, eat the delicious food from the table and sit in laps the same size as your own – then do it, and when they yell at you and tell you no, do it again (once their backs are turned, of course) and when they catch you, play dead.

Happy Birthday Chopsie – thanks for being awesome, exhausting, and rotten sometimes…everyone promised me you would grow out of the terrible two phase, and here we are at four! But I wouldn’t change you for anything, life wouldn’t be the same without you!

*Please note, Chops is not her real name. She also goes by Chopsie, Choppers, Brown Beard, Black Dog, Bertha, Meatloaf, Barkley, Lady Barkington the Third, Maisers, Crazy Maisy and sometimes even plain ole Maisy. 🙂