It’s a Fertile World – and Other Mishmash

Let’s start with the obvious. I have not been around lately. I know, I know…but it’s for good reasons. Life has been full lately and I have not had the energy or the heart to write. But I’m back now, and I have a lot to say – are you ready?? (Edit: Have you peed? Do you have a drink and some snacks?). Here we go:

#1) We went on vacation, ya’ll!! We initially had a trip to the Bahamas planned – but received a warning from our cruise line about confirmed Zika in the area, and in the warning it stated that the risk is not just for pregnant women – but any couple TTC. It could take up to 6 months for the risk to clear if Mr. Big caught it (?!?!?!!). That was just too much risk for us, so we took the offer from our cruise line to cancel without penalty and instead had a stay-cation. We spent the first three days at a local ski resort, skiing and relaxing in the hot tub. The last two days we spent ice fishing – a passion of Mr. Big’s. I have to admit, it is really growing on me! This was our catch from just 1 hour on our last day…so many fish!

20170203_121849.jpg

#2) There is something in the water over here… I work in a department of just 16 people. Of those 16, 3 are pregnant and 1 is on mat leave right now. On top of that, Mr. Big’s cousin who got married 3.5 months ago has announced she is three months pregnant (meaning she got pregnant on or shortly after her honeymoon…everyone’s dream, right?) and my cousin who is all shades of a hot mess just announced she is also pregnant (and unmarried, and unemployed, and without a high school diploma, and still living in her parents basement, and unable to take care of her own basic needs….and, and, and). Then there is the woman who I work with who is halfway through her second pregnancy – and, like the first pregnancy, she takes every chance she can get to lament how inconvenient pregnancy and child rearing is and how she is only doing this for her husband… Now, I know this sounds bitter (and it is), but please don’t think for a second I don’t wish all of these women the very best in their pregnancies and motherhood journeys. It’s not that I ill wish them at all. It’s just that it’s now 5 years trying without any kind of success, and it all seems to hurt a lot more than it ever did before….so hearing of others success (especially when it is seemingly without effort) is so hard to hear. I’m 30 now. I wanted to be done having kids by 30 – and I figured starting at 24 should have made that goal attainable. Then when I hit 26 and 27, I decided even one kid by 30 was good. Then at 28 I decided a pregnancy at 30 was enough. Now here I am at 30 with an empty womb, empty arms, and an aching heart.

#3) There are SO many changes in my life. My workplace is undergoing restructuring which may, in the long run, put my Mom out of a job…which is SUPER hard. I worry a lot about that, knowing how hard it is to find work in the area. At the same time, I was offered a promotion that I ultimately turned down … and while I think I made the right choice, I am not 100% sure. Between deciding about my job, and worrying about my Mom’s, it has been so stressful. I don’t think I’ve had a good nights sleep in weeks.

#4) Why didn’t anyone warn me as a kid that the older I get, the older the people I love get? Gone are the days that an odd symptom is brushed off with a “wait and see approach”. Now, my parents and aunts/uncles are all in the “better run some tests” stage…and it’s a scary place to be! The last 6 months alone have yielded 5 biopsies for my parents and aunts/uncles in that age group (50s and up)… We have been so blessed that it’s all been benign, but it is so scary! If I go to the doctor with a weird lady problem, I usually have to do blood work or wait and see – but if my Mom does, it’s off for an ultrasound and a uterine lining biopsy simply because she is in the age group where serious things are more common to crop up. Scary stuff! I just want to put everyone I love in a bubble so we can all be safe together!

#5) This Trump business is getting really scary. I mean, it always was, but it’s getting scarier by the minute. I have a very good friend who is living in San Francisco…where he has lived happily for 5 years. For the first time ever, he and his husband were followed by a gang of teenagers who were both menacing and terrifying. They chanted “Trump wants you gone. Trump wants you gone.” and followed closely, trying to intimidate them. My friends were able to seek refuge in a local restaurant, where the staff came to their defense – but they actually had to call the police to get the gang to clear. They were then escorted home…a night meant to be a fun movie date turned into one of the scariest things of their lives. In San Francisco of all places. I know their chant was something made up by a gang of teenagers, but it just shows that the “right” to hate is becoming more common place…making people more bold. Ugh, I feel sick thinking about it and I hope they never experience anything like that again.

#6) We are in a deep freeze right now. Like, the entire area is under a thick sheet of ice. This is day 4 of the iciness…and I have wiped out 3 times. THREE TIMES! It’s not uncommon to get a lot of ice here because it is so damp and humid – but considering the rest of our winter has been balmy with hardly any snow, it’s kind of rude that all of a sudden it wants to be winter now. Hello – we’re half way through February – go away icy coldness. No one likes you.

20170117_162016222
Not very barbed wire-y when you’re covered in a smooth coating of ice!

#7) Are you watching Criminal Minds? It is SO good this year! Well, OK, it’s good every year but this year it is SOO good. So is Man with a Plan (Joey Tribioni for the win!) and Kevin Can Wait and Chopped Junior. Do you watch Chopped Junior? Only watch it if you’re ready to feel like you WASTED your childhood playing and building forts…because these kids are making things like Pate a Choux while I was working on how many marshmallows I could fit in my mouth at once. #canyousayunderachiever

Ok, I think that’s it for now. If you’re still with me, thanks for reading! If you’re not still with me, thanks for trying and I don’t blame you! I will end with a super cute picture of the Furries and their cocaine snow habit. (It’s not an addiction, they can quit any time they want to, they swear).

20170105_162653

What’s happening in your world right now?? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Bell, Let’s Talk

In Canada, it is Bell Let’s Talk day. That’s a day when a popular cellphone, phone line, internet and TV provider donates a large portion of their proceeds from texts sent to mental health initiatives.

For the weeks prior, there are commercials and ads connecting Mental Health issues with real people – in an effort to spread awareness and end the stigma. Howie Mandel (and his public battle with OCD) is the poster child for this campaign.

It’s also one that’s near and dear to my heart for a similar reason.


I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Not the kind that people claim to have because they like their socks arranged by colour or they arrange their books in alphabetical order. No, I have the real kind – the one that ruins lives if untreated, holds me back from my dreams, causes isolation and depression. The real, serious, mental disease kind.

I have had symptoms since I was a small child. At the time, they were labeled as quirky. I was always high functioning (excellent grades in school), so it wasn’t considered a problem. As I aged, the symptoms got worse and evolved. Finally, when I was in my third year of University, the stress of life intensified my symptoms so much that I could barely leave my apartment. In desperation, I tried to commit suicide…and I would have succeeded had my roommate not come back to grab a book she forgot. That experience will forever be the worst, and the best, of my life. I caused great pain to my roommate, and myself, and I will forever regret that – but it also saved my life. I spent the next month in a mental health unit in Hospital, where I worked hard to dig myself up from the pit I was in.

I completed an outpatient program for depression, and passed it with flying colours. I was proclaimed cured, and returned to school to finish my degree.

What I didn’t realize was that, those little nigglings of something that I attributed to depression, were actually something more. At first, it was an itch that I couldn’t scratch if the door was partially open, or the curtains were and the only thing that scratched it was closing them. Then it evolved into a need for cleanliness, and a need to pray for each person I loved at night. Then it evolved into an inability to function if I do not clean a “dirty item” and the surfaces it has touched and a need to pray for each person by name, or else they would not be safe overnight. From there, it became something horrifying larger: a need to clean a dirty item, the surface its touched, and the surfaces that have touched the surfaces that have touched the dirty item. An anxiety filled prayer including everyone I love by name, picturing them and surrounding them with white light for exactly the right amount of time or something horrible will happen to them. A fear of illness and vomiting, so severe, that I would chose death over exposure. A need to check the door one, two, three, four, five times to make sure it is locked, even though I have already checked. A need to wash my hands so often that they are raw and bleeding, and still unable to stop washing them. A fear that if I think of something bad for too long or too short, it will happen and then the panic that ensues when I realize it has not met those time requirements. The constant foreboding that something awful will happen because I did not check the door five times, or count to 20 while running water. A fear of contamination so severe that it is impossible to visit someone else, or even leave my house.

Not surprising, in that time, my life became a bubble of fear in hiding, constantly trying to dodge the next thing. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t leave the house and I realized that I couldn’t live like that.

Unlike the first time my symptoms became so heavy, I chose to get help. I went to my doctor and explained everything, preceding it with “I know how insane this sounds, but…”.

She listened, she nodded, she typed some things, and then she gave me a hug and a list of websites. She told me to go to them, and read through them, and in the mean time she was sending a prescription to the pharmacy, a referral to a Psychiatrist and she wanted me to call her if I needed anything at all.

When I checked the first website, I thought I typed it in wrong. I didn’t have OCD – that was something that people who shuffle around in bathrobes, with baggies on their hands, have. Not me – I had an education, a good career, a house, a husband, a family… BUT I clicked on over to “Symptoms” anyway, and I could not believe my eyes when I saw what I saw. Every single symptom, every single experience, every single thing that was happening to me that I deemed insanity was there. Every. single. one. It changed my life.

For the first time in years I felt relieved. There was a reason for these symptoms, and if there was a reason – then there was a treatment. The change in my feelings, in my mind, was so profound that it is one of the most memorable moments of my life. I can still feel the relief, the giddiness wash over. I had a chance, like could be OK again, there was hope for me.

Since then it has been a roller coaster. OCD is something that will never go away. I will always have it, and I will always struggle with it. It responds directly to the other stressors in my life so as long as I am calm, I can keep a handle on it – but the second that something stressful and out of my control happens, it’s there barging into my brain and ready to take over.

I am not OCD, but it will always be a part of me. Most of the time, now, I am OK with that. I have made my peace with it, and I am in a good place right now – but other times, I am angry and sad and frustrated. I am constantly working on not being ashamed of this, but it is hard.

The point of this big, long, wordy post (if you’re still with me, thank you!!) – is to say three things to you:

  1. You are not alone. You may feel alone, and it may seem like you are alone. But just look at my symptoms up there and how illogical they were – I was positive no one else was experiencing them – but I did some research and was amazed to see that they were. Not just one or two – but thousands of people were. Reach out, find someome who gets it. Don’t ever suffer silently. Ever.
  2. Get help. I know it hurts to ask for help. I know how shameful it feels, I know how poorly some people understand it. I know. But if you don’t get help, it could kill you – and let me tell you, there are people out there who will be shattered by the loss of you. Not just family and friends, but the first responders who find you, and the neighbor across the hall and your coworkers. If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for them. Get help.
  3. Be kind – to yourself, and to others. Mental illness is real, debilitating, and life crushing. Don’t make someone feel smaller than they already feel because you do not understand. Trust me, if I could chose something else I absolutely would. It would be easier to be diabetic than have OCD – but those are not the cards I was dealt. Don’t belittle yourself for something you can’t control, and don’t belittle someone else for it. We are all just doing the best we can, with what we have, battling something no one else can understand. Be kind.

Thanks for reading! I hope you didn’t fall asleep and, more importantly, I hope it help you on some level…whether to deal with mental illness in yourself, or in someone else.

P.S: I think this is the longest post I have EVER blogged. #longestpostaward

Advice Needed – Christmas Giving

*Family Drama post….you are forewarned!*

How do you buy for someone you don’t really want to buy for anymore, but feel obligated to do it? I’m looking for gift ideas that are not expensive, but still thoughtful and perhaps an easy way of transitioning into not giving gifts at all. Also, ones that ship well would be super since I spend almost as much on shipping as I do on presents.

——-

Mr. Big and I have big families – three sets of parents, 9 siblings, 5 nieces/nephews, 8 sets of grandparents. Of those, more than half live far away. Buying for them all has become increasingly expensive – so much so that we have not given gifts to each other in almost 5 years during the holidays because our families are so big and expensive.

Of those families, we have very little contact with most of them. We are close with my family, and with Mr. Big’s dad, stepmom and younger brother  – but otherwise, we hardly see or hear from the others (I’ll call them the “Flakey Side”, which includes his Mom and her husband, and their children). Mr. Big and his Dad/Stepmom inform me that that is just how the Flakey side of the family is, but I just cannot understand or be OK with it. They don’t bother to call Mr. Big on his birthday (I’m not sure they even remember), even though he always calls them, and they are flakey about commitment (they constantly plan trips to visit us, and then cancel at the last minute and text a week or two later to say they’re going to Mexico for a week and will call when they get back (and then never call)…). I know some people are just like that, but I just cannot and won’t understand it. I have been very blessed in my family, and Mr. Big’s Dad and Stepmom (who raised him) are truly a blessing for him and probably the only reason he grew up to be such a great man.

Anyway…the one thing that the flakey side of Mr. Big’s family does is Christmas. They don’t do birthdays or anniversaries or weddings or babies – but they always do Christmas. They expect gifts to be bought, and then shipped (which costs as much as the presents), out to them each year – and they do send some things in return. But it’s so expensive and I can’t help but think we’re spending all this money on people who mostly pretend Mr. Big doesn’t exist (unless they need something from him). We used to comply because his brothers were teenagers, but now every one is in their 20s. I feel like it’s time to ease off on the Christmas spending.

In my family, we only give handmade presents to each other (baking, scarves, etc) and spend all our money on the little boys instead. We also go to a Christmas show every year together. I want to swing into that kind of giving with Mr. Big’s side, but it’s hard when they’re all mostly male. #1) they don’t appreciate handmade gifts, and #2) their wish list is always “Money, I need money”…

Any ideas for thoughtful but inexpensive ways to show we’re thinking of them, but not make us poor?? Am I being the cheapest person ever for wanting to cut back?

** I also want to point out – his one brother with two kids is not expected to give gifts (or call to say thank you for his gifts) because he has children and is therefore excused from life. Can’t wait until I am in THAT club!! **

We’re Sorry, Too.

I know it’s a running joke that Canadians apologize for everything – but for my American friends: I am so very sorry.

I’m sorry that you’re afraid right now – afraid for yourself, or your friends, who are not white, male and straight. I am sorry that you’re worried his hate will spread. I am sorry that you’re devastated to have to explain this to your children. I am sorry that such a beautiful, powerful, positive country is now being run by an angry, hateful, hurtful man and that countless people will be hurt in the process.

I’m just sorry. I am heartbroken for what this means for your rights and for the world as a whole – because what America does will resonate with us all.

It’s just impossible to make sense of it. I just don’t understand how someone who is so readily vocal about his hatred of so many things, people and lifestyles can possibly be elected as President of the United States. I am sure Trump had positive changes he wanted to make – things that some of you can get behind – but what spoke loudest, what he shouted to the world time and time again was nothing but hate and I cannot possibly understand why anyone would want someone like that to be their President.

It’s terrifying, and my heart is with those of you who are hurt, and who will be hurt by his hatred. Sending hugs and lots of love from Canada.

Two pink lines – Finally!!

In our 6 years of trying to have a baby – I have never, ever, not even once had two pink lines on anything I’ve ever peed on – OPK, PG Test…nothing. Because of that, I have massive anxiety about any POAs of any kind – and literally spend a day psyching myself up for it  and then another day berating myself for being so silly to think I would ever get a positive. It’s a vicious cycle. I typically ovulate approximately twice a year – if that – so for the last year I have been on a tight regime of good choices, healthy foods and regular exercise (plus one million vitamins…ok, maybe not one million but a lot) to try and rectify that naturally. I have refrained from taking any form of OPK during this time, but I have taken a few PG tests which have, of course, all been negative.

So now I am back at TTC – with improved health and completely normal blood work (woot, woot). I have started charting – BBT, CM and (of course) OPKs. The only OPKs I’ve ever used before were digital, because I wanted it to be easy and clear, but this time I went for economical and ordered the lifetime supply huge box off Amaz.on of tests. The catch with these is that they are not digital – but I figured I could handle that. I started taking them 3 days ago on CD10 (because I’m not really sure when I ovulate)…and imagine my surprise and excitement when on my very first test I got this:

Image result for negative OPK

Hallelujah! Finally -for the first time in my entire life – a POSITIVE! I jumped up and down, I danced, I sang, I proclaimed myself cured of infertility because – obviously – I got a positive on an OPK, and I may or may not have kissed the test. I almost cried I was so happy to *finally* see a positive on something I peed on. It has been such a long, disheartening road and this felt like sweet, sweet redemption. All my hard work had paid off, I was ovulating! I could suddenly see my future as mother – it was so close I could taste it.

Ahhh, it was a glorious 3 minutes of celebration where I felt like a real woman, who’s body was doing womanly things like it should be…

And then, as I put it all away with an ear to ear smile on my face, I noticed this on the box:

Image result for negative OPK

Wait a minute…TWO LINES can be a negative OR a positive? What kind of test is this?!? Who made it – Hitler?? I whipped out the test again and felt my confidence, dreams, and pride shatter as I realized the test line was – OF COURSE – lighter than the control line. Meaning my “sweet redemption positive” was, actually, a big fat negative. Story.of.my.life.

Womp. Womp.

I don’t think I have ever gone so fast from cloud 9, to an inch below dirt floor. I cried for a while, and Mr. Big tried to console me but let’s be honest – there is no consoling an infertile woman who (for one quick second) thought she may not be…but then had it dashed away so easily. Like the test was saying to me: “Of course you’re infertile you fool – it’s like you forget who you are…just a big, infertile mess who will never see anything but big fat negatives.”

While I get that the two lines are because LH is usually there, and a dark line means a surge – I still think it’s unfair to have two lines on ANYTHING but a positive pregnancy test. Don’t we have enough stress? Must we add in just one more thing?

I am not sure what happened after, but I believe we need to buy new Halloween Candy.

Good Friends

When I was younger (teen to early 20s), I lived for my friends. Nothing could cure my teenage angst like a day spent doing nothing along side my besties. Even when our bodies were changing, and our emotions were roller coasters, and some of us were dealing with tragedies – a day spent watching movies and talking was what got us through.

Now, though, I’m at the age where all of my friends have small children. I was one of the first to get married, and the only without kids. While I still love spending time with my friends-who-are-now-mommies, it’s different than it used to be. Their priorities have changed (rightly so) and their lives are much different than mine.  One of the hardest parts is that when we do get together, there are so many wonderful parenting stories – but sometimes, I feel a bit sad or insecure about my infertility. That onus is on me, I know, but it happens just the same. I love my friends dearly, but it is hard on me when all we ever discuss is the one thing I cannot seem to obtain but want so desperately. Even getting together is a challenge – and something I’m starting to realize may not happen until all the kids are a bit older. I’m ok with that, I love those girls dearly and I will wait for them. But … I’m lonely and I miss my friends.

Then something interesting happened. I developed a couple friendships with four girls from work that initially became working relationships, and have since developed into a deeper friendships. All of the girls love children, but don’t have any for varying reasons: choice, health, circumstance, etc. Last week we went out for drinks after work and stayed for hours just talking about life and movies and good books. It was wonderful. I had forgotten how much life there is outside of parenting…for so long my focus has been zeroed in on how to have a baby, and having a baby, that I had forgotten there are other good things in life, too.

It was a wonderful distraction from infertility. For the first time in a long time, I did not feel like the infertile in a room full of mothers. I was just another person, enjoying a nice meal and great conversation with good friends. It was so needed. I am so glad to call these girls friends.

Do you have a mix of mommy and non-mommy friends? Do you find it more difficult or more easy to identify with one over the other?

 

 

Scared.

6 months ago, I had my first ever severe migraine with aura. I had one more after that. My doctor was alarmed at the sudden onset of them, but chalked it up to changing hormones and wrote me a prescription for pain medication.

Then, 1 month ago, a terrible head pain started. It last for four days before I went to the doctor, who – after a thorough examination – thought it was a sinus infection and armed me with antibiotics, nasal spray, antihistamines and a neti pot.The pain became less severe and more spaced out through the day – and soon it was just a constant fullness/ache that was made worse by exertion, laughing or movement/bending. When I completed the medications and it still continued without change, I began to worry. I started taking Ty.leno.l every day to get through, and crossed my fingers that if I just used the neti-pot enough, it would get better. The nature of pain changed and became a dull ache and fullness, interrupted by periods of sharp jabbing pain. Exertion, laughing or movement/bending brought on the most intense pain I have ever experienced (and I have a high pain tolerance). This has continued steadily for weeks like this.

I tried to get in to see my doctor last week, but she was away. Not wanting to go to the hospital, I just waited patiently for her to return. In that time, I experienced two episodes where I could not find the words I wanted to say. Never has my cognitive ability ever been off – and it was very scary. This could be from a multitude of things – stress not being the least – but in combination with my head pain it was terrifying.

When I called my Doctor after her vacation, she scheduled me in for an 8:30 am appt this morning – when the office doesn’t even open until 9:30 am. That should have alerted me that this may be more than a sinus infection.

I spent 1.5 hours there this morning while my Doctor and her resident asked me a hundred questions, poked, and prodded me. I had numerous actions to complete, which was comparable to a small workout. At the end they determined it was not my sinuses at all. The tests they performed on me in the office all appear normal, but they are concerned about my symptoms and my head pain – and have booked me in for an MRI brain scan.

I am no fool. I know exactly what they are looking for, and I’m scared.