Monday, March 30, 2009

Progress and one of my best stories

So the EPIC POST (must be all in caps, you's that epic) will be coming, probably tomorrow afternoon. In the mean time, I actually have a few things to say regarding infertility and what's going on with us lately.

We had a very interesting visit with our therapist last week. He really has been such a huge help to us and I would highly recommend finding someone you are comfortable with. He is very blunt and up front with us and said that he wanted to talk about where we felt we were at and if the therapy was helping us. We both felt that it had been helpful and really appreciated being able to put words to what's been going on. His main goal is not to get couples to feel "OK" with infertility or push them toward adoption. He really just wants you to be able to improve your quality of life regardless of what the future brings.

I talked with him about how I have all these babies upcoming in the family and would love to be able to be excited for everyone rather than feel like its a personal reminder of my own inadequacy. He asked why I felt I had to be excited, and that it's OK to feel sad about it. It's even OK to start crying in front of people because if they really care they know that I'm not doing it to try to get attention or make everyone wallow in misery with me. Also, he helped me realize that even before the infertility stuff, I wasn't really the type to get all that excited about a pregnancy anyway, so why do I feel I need to create feelings that aren't in my nature? I suppose life is a series of those moments of insight. I had never really let myself be OK with the emotions I am experiencing. I was mocked mercilessly as a child for crying and, at the ripe old age of 8, decided that crying in front of people was showing weakness that would invariably be exploited, so no more crying for me. He also said that when people we love ask us how we are doing, it's not fair to either of us to put on the brave face and say "Oh, just great," since we all knew it was a lie. Much better to be honest and say "You know, it's hard but we're getting through it."

I guess things like that would be obvious to other people, but sometimes you just need to hear the right thing at the right time put in the right words. I spent the next week allowing myself to experience my emotions, while still realizing where they were coming from. I would see a pregnant woman and instantly feel the sadness and loss that comes from someone having the audacity to procreate when I cannot. Normally, I would feel mean and rude for thinking such things and then start beating myself up over how I am not only broken but envious and bitter. Instead, I would hear our therapist in my head saying, "Yeah, you know what that does really suck and it does hurt, and it's OK to feel those things." And you know what? After that, I was able to move on. I can't tell you how amazing that feels to not have to dwell on those negative feelings. It wasn't the easiest at first, but I've been making progress.

A few days ago I was at an event where I saw roughly 25 hugely pregnant women, which would normally put me in a massive panic attack and downward spiral. Instead, I was able to experience the sad feelings, recognize where they were really coming from, and then move the hell on. Amazing! I know that infertility will always be a part of our lives. That even if we adopt, there will still be that pang of loss whenever I see a pregnant woman and realize that will never be me, but I am a realistic person. Pregnancy is overrated. Parenthood is what we really care about.

Biggest progress of all? I was able to actually look my sister in the eye and give her a hug. She is due end of April and is really getting quite big. I was able to ask her how things were going without the intent being a masochistic desire to be reminded what I will never have, but genuine interest in my soon-arriving niece.

I read infertility blogs that are full of pain and grief, and I get it. I've been there, gotten the t-shirt, filled up my punch card, and will no doubt come back to visit quite often, but I feel like I have finally moved out. At the very least, I have bought a nice time share in a happier place that I can visit. Has the analogy been beaten thoroughly enough? Yes? Good.

So where is the good story? Well if you've managed to wade through my jumbled thoughts this far you deserve a reward, so here you go.

Possibly my best story
I have a relative who is not the most sensitive. OK, lots of them are pretty callous, but she really deserves a medal sometimes. I have been on a restrictive diet for over a year to help with the endo pain, which I was OK with, but apparently other people found weird. She offers me some cake and the following interchange happened.

"Hey, have some cake!"

"No thanks, I don't want any."

"Oh come on! You're too skinny, have some."

"Actually I can't have any"

"See, too skinny and now your on a diet."

"Well, I actually can't have the wheat, dairy, sugar or chocolate because it makes the pain from the endometriosis much worse."

"You know, you should see a doctor about that. There are all sorts of new things they can do now."

"Actually, I have seen several doctors and medical knowledge about endometriosis is still very limited and most treatment options don't work well and aren't permanent. They don't even know what causes it."

"But if you got pregnant that would cure it right?"

"Um, it can. Or I can get a hysterectomy. Those are about my only options right now."

"You can't get a hysterectomy! The pain isn't THAT bad!"

"Well, actually it is, but we are still a long way off from deciding on something so drastic."

"Could you at least save your eggs?"

"Well, my endo is wrapped around my ovaries, so probably not."

"You could freeze your eggs!"

"Yes, but I wouldn't exactly have a uterus to put them in so..."

"But you could get a surrogate!!"

"Uh....pretty sure we would go with adoption over something so expensive and intense."

"You can't adopt!!! You're too pretty to adopt!!!!!"


Yes, she actually told me I was too pretty to adopt. The word you are looking for is "Wow."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So apparently I suck

I know, I know. I promised to post a few days ago on something I hate almost as much as I hate infertility. Well guess what. I didn't. I am in the midst of preparing a huge project and have been focusing my energy on what will ultimately make me money. Crazy, I know.

Not to fear though. The post is coming and it will be epic. It just may be another week or so.

In the mean time, here is something to consider. I got my period today after deciding not to go back on birth control this month. Typically, when an infertile who is trying to defy the odds gets the notice of failure it ends in a mass of sobs and disappointment. Me? I haven't been this ambivalent about it in over a year. Its rather nice. I feel like I am bordering on normal emotions again.

Since there always has to be some suck to temper any happy I may have, let me assure you that the physical pain is knocking me on my ass. I am calling the doctor first thing tomorrow to begin a new journey. Operation Screw You Insides has begun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Counseling Round 2

Today was the second time going to Dr. ExtraAwesome for counseling. We continue to really like him and feel like this is going to be a huge help to us. A couple interesting things happened.

He spoke to us about how we view things through the window of our beliefs, but we don't always truly know what our beliefs are, just the thoughts that result from it. For example, when I see a pregnant woman I think it will never be me because of my belief that I am defective. The idea being that if you understand what you believe about your infertility and yourself, you can better deal with the emotions caused. Also, understanding how your partner is interpreting things makes it easier to present a united front, rather than being two people going through the same experience, but not really being together through it. It was quite interesting.

The entertaining thing was that in the previous session I had spoken about my cousin and her husband with the whole rubbing belly thing. He agreed that it was a ridiculous thing for him to do and we were rather justified in our being upset about it. Today while referring to the incident he referred to the two of them as "your cousin" and "dude." He literally said, "When your cousin is there and dude comes up and rubs on her belly..." Maybe it's not such a big deal, but I freaking loved it. From henceforward people who piss me off no longer will be referred to by their relationship to me, but be called simply "dude" or "chick." Awesome.

Tomorrow or the next day I will post about something that has nothing to do with infertility, but makes me equally mad. Be excited!

Friday, March 6, 2009

First session of counseling

So, The Boy and I decided to see about finding a counselor to help us deal with the whole no biological kids thing. We set up an appointment for last Thursday and I thought nothing much about it for a while.

Total diversion that I promise has something to do with this story:
Long story short, one of the projects I've been working on for work had to be re-done. Eff! Oh, and things I needed for said project got delayed...and delayed...and delayed. In short, I had a 20 hour job to accomplish in roughly 24 hours. Wee! And since the universe enjoys giving me the finger (and I give it right the hell back) one more delay was added for good measure. Can you fit 20 hours into 12? I finally got what I needed at 9:30 am and had only until 4 p.m. of the same day to complete it to a presentable level, and 9 am to finish all the details. Now, I'm all for challenging oneself, but this was comical. I was pissy and frantic, but managed to complete said project in time (even getting in a whole hour of sleep!) and you would never have known that I hadn't spent a few weeks on it.

Here's how this ties into the counseling. I had to finish by 9 am, because that's when our session was, so I actually had to finish by like 8. So we had out first session of infertility therapy after I had been awake for close to 27 hours, working nonstop. Needless to say, the emotions were on edge.

Quick trivia question time! What has two thumbs and looked like walking death, thus making a totally awesome first impression with someone who reads things into every little detail of what is said and not said? This guy!

The session went much better than I expected. For starters I stayed awake and relatively lucid for the whole session. I am truly a wonder. The therapist was a younger guy (like 34 I think) who had been through the whole gamut of infertility with his wife and realized that finding a good therapist that didn't try to ream you with cost was tricky. He really was a super nice guy and we both liked him. We had to tell him our story, which went a little something like this:

Us- started trying just over a year ago
Him- Kind nod
Him *subtext*- Oh for cute...they're freaking out after only a year.
Us- Started infertility drugs after about 6 months
Him- Hmmm
*subtext*- You're young...why worry so soon?
Us- Endometriosis crap
Him- Knowing nod
*subtext*- That explains a bit
Us- IUIs, no more money, bad pain, endo showing up in ultrasounds, don't ovulate
Him- " you guys have been through the ringer this last year"

As the session went on he asked us what the difficult parts of infertility were for us. We told him it was mostly social pressures. We really don't experience much trauma over being genetic dead ends, it's just impossible to escape all the pregnancies around us, particularly our relatives. We told him some of the stories I have already written about here and he was appropriately shocked at some of the things people have said to us.

I should say that the therapist, lets call him Dr. ExtraAwesome, has been through infertility with his wife, finally adopting two girls and now works with adoptive parents to make sure they are ready for adopting. Oh, and he is sarcastic (told us he used to mentally flip people off anytime they had some "advice"), and delightfully blunt. Can you say perfect fit?

I did find it entertaining that he made such a point to let us know that we are not alone and our feelings are common and justified. As he was saying it all I could picture was this:

As far as our plans for a future family, we are taking our time before making any big decisions. It's been nice to not have to deal with all this and focus on some other things, and I admit I don't feel a huge push to change that.