Tag Archives: sadness

Learning to “Grin and Bear it”

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Since learning that I am infertile, one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with is learning to ‘grin and bear it’.  I will admit it is not one of my strongest personality traits as I am one of those people who whatever I am feeling is almost guaranteed to show on my face.  If it’s annoyance, anger, disbelief, happiness, or sadness, the expression is there on my face.  I don’t like to hide, I don’t like to lie, but at the same time, sometimes the time and place for such conversations are not appropriate.  My Princess is almost 4 years old now and many of our friends and family are having children.  And with that, the question Hubby and I dread is being asked at every turn.

“So,” they cheerfully ask, poking me in the abdomen.  “When is she getting a brother or a sister.”

Cue the awkward smile and shift in my stance.  Most of the time they corner Hubby and I alone so we are unable to lean on each other for support or help with the answer.  I know they don’t do it out of spite or malice, but I cringe when I am asked it.

“Oh, umm, you know, hmm, when it happens.  We’ll see how it goes.”  I divert my eyes anywhere but in theirs.  I don’t want to have to see their expression when I don’t give them a straight forward answer.  How do I say, “Well my prolactin levels are extremely high and have drained my estrogen levels so my body is incapable of maintaining any pregnancy and my ovaries are not releasing any eggs.  My body is essentially going into early menopause and I’m only 26. Oh and my ovaries are covered in cysts.”  That doesn’t really make for a great conversation.  It is one thing for me to be uncomfortable, but I really wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone else’s discomfort.  I’ve had strangers on the bus ask me, teachers at my daughter’s daycare, coworkers, friends, family and everyone else in between.  I haven’t yet found a suitable answer.

So many people I know are having babies.  My sister is pregnant and so is a close family member.  My cousin just had a baby and her sister is due any day.  My hubby’s brother had a beautiful blue-eyed baby girl 6 months ago and my friend is having a baby as well.  I am all very happy for them, I really am.  I rub their tummy’s, ask them how they are feeling, celebrate the life the life that is about to be brought into this world.  But as I smile there is a dull ache that lies inside.  It’s not cramps from bad food or from menstruation or ovulation, it’s a dull ache from a fear that I may never get to feel another kick, hear the whooshing of the ultrasound, crave pickles, have heartburn radiating through my body or be hunched over a toilet praying to the porcelain gods again.

I’ve received so many comments from people who I know mean well, but they come off so inconsiderate and back-handed.

“You just need to go back and enjoy sex again.  Then you’ll get pregnant.”

I really wish it were that simple.  Out of 28-35 days, depending on your cycle length, you only have about 25 – 30% chance of becoming pregnant.  You have to determine when you ovulate, how long your luteal phase is, how soft and where your cervix is.  I took Siberian Ginseng, Prenatal Vitamins, Evening Primrose Oil, Dong Quai and Green Tea for their ‘fertility’ aid. I was charting my entire cycle.  I charted my basal temperature, my cervical mucus, how tender my breasts were, lower back pain, how heavy my flow, how long it lasted, basically acting as an ovulatory detective searching for clues when my ovaries will release an egg and when to approach Hubby and give a very small timeline to when we have to “enjoy sex”.   Nothing says ‘sexy’ like “We have to have sex right now and tomorrow and I have to elevate my hips for 30 minutes.”

“Just chill out, you are way to stressed.”

Unfortunately stress and infertility often go hand in hand.  Stress can lead to infertility and infertility only increases stress.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation.

“You should be grateful you have one child.  Some people don’t have any.”

I would have to say this is the most inconsiderate and cruel comment I’ve ever received.  I am very grateful for my beautiful brown-eyed, blonde curly-haired little Princess.  She is my entire world.  I look at her and thank every lucky star in the universe for giving her to me.  We almost lost her at 3 months, and the cord wrapped around her neck during labour and she was born via c-section.  I hug her and kiss her and tell her how much she means to me every single day.  Most of my happy moments are the ones where I am with her.  But I also dreamt of giving her siblings.  A house full of siblings.  I always wanted to be a mom to many children.  I took care of my sisters and babysat many children.  I love kids.  Their laughs, smiles, their attitudes, everything about them makes me smile.  They are so innocent and happy that it always boggles my brain when people say they annoy them.  The old adage “Barefoot and Pregnant” was my mantra growing up and I couldn’t think of a better dream for me.  I’m not talking about pulling a Dugger, but I wanted at least 4 kids, if not more.  Just a house full of children running around, me ragged and tired, but overjoyed.  The doctor says I’ll be lucky if I am able to have one more.

“There’s always adoption and surrogates.”

Generally it’s these people who know nothing about costs and legal matters.  These options are not always available to everyone.

I think what hurts the most is that I have to look at my little girl when she asks me where the ‘baby’ went and why she doesn’t have a sister and try to come up with some sort of child-friendly response and then look at my Husband, who wanted a house full of kids and try to articulate ‘I’m sorry’ that I let him down.  I am 26, at the supposed height of my fertile years and have to say “I’m infertile”.   I never thought that phrase would ever come from me.  I’m not embarrassed or ashamed.  I have come to know many people who are infertile and are suffering from what I am suffering from.  It’s just an overwhelming sadness, guilt and grief that is so very hard to explain, comprehend and come to terms with.

After 2 years of trying to get pregnant, I have found an online community that has truly helped me realize I’m not alone and one blogger in particular, Practical Katie and her post “When One Isn’t Enough” really did help me understand this.  And to my readers, your kind words have really helped pick me up when I have been feeling down.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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A Glimmer of Hope at the End of The Tunnel

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Pregnant   I received a bit of news that shows there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.  I had almost given up hope of getting pregnant.  I had been to doctors that either refused to help me at all, or tried to tell me I “just wasn’t ready”.  I made an appointment with another doctor and from the moment I explained why I was there, he smiled and said to me, “I’m going to help you.”  I’ve never been quite so happy to hear those 5 words.  Let me give you a little back story first.

In November of 2008, our daughter was born.  Delivered via emergency C-Section, she was born a happy, and healthy 7 lbs 5 oz, 21 1/2 inch long bundle of precious joy.  We hadn’t planned on becoming pregnant when we did, but when we got the “positive” on the test, it was a simple decision, we were keeping her.  And the moment she was laid in our arms, we knew we had made the right decision.  She was all we had ever dreamed of.  I don’t think I knew before what a true, and pure love you can have for a child until her so when she was almost 2, we decided that we were going to try for another.

We had calculated it out that if we got pregnant right away, by the time the baby was born, I would have a full year with both of my children before my eldest daughter would have to go to kindergarten and I would have to go back to work.  This way, we would only have 1 child in diapers and daycare at once.  Seemed like the perfect age difference between them both.  My sister and I were 2 years apart and I remember always having someone to play with, share clothes with, and argue with.  I loved having siblings and I wanted the same for my daughter.  After coming off the pill, my cycles were wonky to say the very least, but I figured it would take some time.  I thought, 2 to 3 months max.  By Christmas and still no pregnancy, I booked an appointment with my gyno to see if there was anything wrong.  She sent me to have an ultrasound to see if I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which I didn’t.  I had asked her for any advice to help speed up the process to One proud Papawhich she replied, “just keep having sex.”  If just having sex created babies, then the world would be full of them.  She explained nothing about cervical mucus, ovulation, positions or anything, just have sex.  I had no thought to argue, after all she was a doctor, a gynecologist and obstetrician to boot, so if she had any tips, she surely would tell me.

After 6 months of trying, we finally got a positive test result.  I was beyond ecstatic.  My husband and I were going to be parents again.  We hugged and kissed and began to think of what the next 9 months would hold.  It wasn’t long before I was showing (I had a full belly by 3 months with my first daughter) and the search for maternity clothes began.  I remember thinking to myself how great I felt considering with my daughter, I had morning sickness for 7 months, raging heartburn, swollen feet, headaches and extreme fatigue.  I was a little bit tired, but I had no morning sickness, none of my previous symptoms.  I thought how great this was, but there was this nagging thought in the back of my mind that something wasn’t “right”.  I had read that each pregnancy was different and how some women never had any of the “typical” pregnancy symptoms, so I kept telling myself everything was fine.  But the thought still remained and I was going to tell my doctor that I was experiencing no symptoms.  My first doctor’s appointment was at 13 weeks, and I was 12 week6 Monthss when everything changed.  The night prior, I had the most vivid dream I have ever had.  I had dreamt that I was taken into the hospital and gave birth and my baby was taken from me before I got to see or hold it.  I remember waking up crying and what an awful feeling that was.  I shook it off as those crazy dreams women get while pregnant, and went to work like it was any other day.

At lunch time, I noticed there was a bit of blood.  I began to panic.  I’m not generally a person who keeps my cool under extreme situations so I told my manager immediately that I needed to go to the doctors.  I had to call my doctor 3 times before they would let me come.  And they didn’t really let me come, I called and said “I’m pregnant and bleeding and I’m coming right now.”  My doctor saw me and did an exam.  My cervix was still closed, which was good, but there was a lot of dried blood.  She was sending me to have an ultrasound the next morning and that I was to go home and relax.  I went home and rubbed my belly and told myself that everything was fine and that I was merely overreacting.  I have somewhat of a “worst case scenario” mentality and had told myself that this was just another case that I was over analyzing and everything would be fine in the morning.  I would go for the test and see my baby and everything would be fine.  Fine, fine, fine.1 year

I went to the clinic and had the ultrasound.  I saw my baby up on the screen, it was small but I was elated none the less.  I’m no technician so it looked exactly how it should.  The tech came back with a stapled shut envelope and handed it to me.

“Please take this to your doctor right now,” she said quietly.

“I have an appointment with her on Friday, can I give it to her then?” I asked.

“No, you have to go now.”  Not good.  A sinking feeling began to swim in my stomach.

“Ok.”   My doctor’s office was only a few steps away from the ultrasound clinic and I fought the entire way not to open the envelope.  Why had she stapled it shut?  Why did I need to go now?  I got to the office and went to the front desk.  I explained what the tech had said and the receptionist said that my doctor wasn’t in today but she would call a nurse.  The nurse opened the envelope and told me to follow her.  I wasn’t even through the door, which was still open when I heard these words;

“It’s bad news,” she said so matter-of-factly.  I began to cry and grasp for the closest chair.  The door wasn’t even shut and people walking by, visibly pregnant were looking at me on their way by.  She handed me the letter which read in big letters, “Fetal Demise, no heartbeat detected, fetus appears calcified, only measuring 7 weeks, 6 days.  I was supposed to be 12 weeks pregnant.  I had been a human graveyard for 4 weeks.  I was devastated.  No, I don’t think devastated quite describes how I felt.  There are no words to describe it.  The nurse had called my doctor and had her speak to me on the phone.  She apologized for my loss and that if I came in on Friday, they would perform a DNC.  A surgical procedure, but I wanted to be done with this.  I didn’t want to20 Months pass it at home, I just wanted it to be over.  They asked if I needed them to call anyone, but I said no and that I needed to go home.  I called my work in the lobby and told them I would not be in for a few days and then I called my husband.

“Hey baby,  how’d the test go?” he asked, trying to sound upbeat.

“The baby is dead,” I cried, holding onto the wall for support, hiding my face from the people in the lobby.  There was a silence on the phone for quite some time.

“I’m coming home, where are you?”  I told him that I was catching a cab from the office.  He told me he loved me and we would talk as soon as he got home.

I got home and collapsed in my room.  It still hadn’t sunken in that I had been carrying a dead baby for 4 weeks and was still showing.  I was visibly pregnant, but yet my belly kept growing.  It was a cruel joke, I thought to myself, how could this happen to me?  My husband came home and all I could do was yell and cry, rant and scream, weep and be silent.  He is the strong silent type and just listened to me.  I am glad for it, because had he said something along the lines of “Don’t worry, we’ll try again” or “It just wasn’t meant to be” I may have lost my mind altogether.  2 1/2 years

He came with me that Friday where we learned that they would not give me a DNC like they had said they would as they “didn’t have room” for me in the OR, so they wanted me to try a pill that would empty the contents of my uterus.  That night, lying in my underwear, was my 7 week, 6 day old baby, attached to the amniotic sac, calcified like the tech said it was, looking up at me.  It was the single most scarring moment of my life.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.  No woman deserves to see the child they so desperately wanted, lying dead in front of them.  My husband heard my screams and came in.  He had kept it together until then.  He wrapped it up in some tissue paper and went into our bedroom.  I found him sitting on the bed crying.

“Why that?  Out of all of this, why did that have to happen?” We had lost our baby, wasn’t that painful enough, but to have that happen.  It just wasn’t fair.

Needless to say, it took a very long time to recover from that.  We went to other doctors to try to get some help, at least figure out what went wrong.  My OBGYN had refused to help us get pregnant.

3 1/2 years   “I can help you, I just don’t want to.  Why do you want to have babies so close together?  I’ll never figure out you young people.  You’re not even married.”  On top of grieving, I was now being spoken down to by my very own doctor.  Another doctor told me “It wasn’t even a baby.”  Where was I being treated?  Was I back in the 1800’s?  I could not believe that this was how I was being spoken to.  I argued that if women wanted to have their breasts reduced or enlarged, doctors would help them.  If a man wished to have a vasectomy, they would help him too.  Even if someone wants to change their sex, doctors would help.  They would not belittle them because they were 25 and unmarried.  My husband and I are technically common law, however, we do not need to have the same last name, matching rings and a piece of paper to say that our love and committment to one another is any less genuine and sincere.  We both love each other deeply, and plan to be with each other for the rest of our lives, we just don’t need that ceremony to make it concrete.  We love our life together, how we choose to be together and it works for us.  We don’t press our values and ideals on others, so all we ask is not to have them pressed upon us.  We have been together for 6 years.  We both work full-time jobs, pay our bills, feed our daughter home cooked meals, our house is clean, and we provide a loving environment for our daughter.  So why shouldn’t we be able to have another?

But today I received wonderful news.  I went to a doctor and by the end of the visit, I had already had a heart scan, blood taken, an ultrasound scheduled, and an appointment for my husband to be checked.  All without being judged.  This doctor was going to help.  He wanted to do a series of tests so that if there was something he could fix, ie thyroid or hormonal issues, and if he couldn’t find anything, he had a list of fertility specialists waiting to help, and he would already have all the blood tests and ultrasounds for them already.  After 2 years of countless doctors turning us away, we were finally getting help.  And even though I don’t know the results, I’m just happy to finally know that answers are coming.

Secondary Infertility

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I have a big secret to tell that I have, until now, kept to myself and my husband.  I am infertile.  Almost 2 years ago, my husband and I wanted to try for another baby.  Our little girl was growing up and we thought it was a good time to start thinking about having another little one.  So August 2010, I threw out my pack of birth control pills and we began our adventure into trying to get pregnant.  I knew it would be some time before we would get pregnant as it doesn’t always happen right after coming off birth control.  And 6 months later, we got a positive pregnancy test.  I was swimming with joy.  Immense joy.  But March 25th 2011 we lost our little one in a way that I can only describe as traumatizing.  It’s been a year and it still hurts as if it happened yesterday.  We have been to countless doctors, taking multivitamins, exercising and short of dancing naked under the full moon and worshipping a fertility goddess, we still haven’t been able to get pregnant.  I am frustrated, beyond frustrated.  Our daughter was an “unexpected surprise” so I never thought that getting pregnant with the second one would be so hard.  I came across another blogger whose article “When One isn’t Enough” who made me finally realize I wasn’t the only one.  It’s definitely worth a read.