Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Bitter Truth

I guess it was AF after all. I don't know what I did to make her so angry, but she is ticked about something. I stayed home from work today, because I couldn't even get out of bed.

Emotionally and spiritually, I just feel drained. I have no explanation for the strange symptoms, and I am confused. Not only has infertility robbed us of the joy of trying to conceive, but now - if we ever do get pregnant - we're going to be so afraid to believe that it's true. We won't get to enjoy the moment.

Life isn't fair. I know that. But I feel like somewhere along the line, something is supposed to go "right" for us. I thought this was finally it. And then, it wasn't.

ETA: Thanks for all the supportive comments over the past few days. I really appreciate them. My bloggy friends are wonderful!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Warning...TMI Ahead!

If you're still reading, consider yourself duly warned.

Shortly after I wrote my last post, I went to the bathroom and noticed some spotting. Spotting as in a very light pinkish mark on the toilet paper...lighter than any spotting I've had before. Ten minutes later, it was reddish-brown and while there was more of it, I'd still only call it spotting. However, it was enough for me to freak out and leave work a little early.

When I got home, I was still spotting, and feeling crampy enough that I fell completely apart. I decided to use a tampon, since it seemed like the spotting was developing into a light flow. C was off today, and he was so sweet - he held me for three hours while I sobbed. I took a nap, and when I woke up, the cramps had changed. They're back to the strange sensation I described eariler - more of a soreness than the muscle contractions I usually experience. The tampon indicated something between spotting and light flow.

And here's the kicker - it's almost seven hours since I started spotting, and IT HAS COMPLETELY STOPPED. This has never happened before at the beginning of my period. I don't know if this even is a period. My overloaded brain is screaming "implantation bleeding!!" but my beleagured heart is so afraid to hope.

I am not one to read into symptoms. I have experienced things in the last week that I have never experienced before, in twenty-one years of menstrual cycles. I am so confused.

Sometime later I will write about the spiritual journey I've been on lately. But for now, I need to put this in writing:

Father, I recognize that You are sovereign, even over this situation. Whether or not we are pregnant, You are good and You are working out Your perfect plan in our lives. I will praise You through this, whether it be with tears of joy or tears of sorrow.

Soliciting Opinions

It was a long weekend, and not of the sort that involves a day off and a trip to the beach. Yesterday especially was a tough day at our house, because a certain impatient person peed on a stick before she should have. (Go figure.)

For the first time in our years of trying to conceive, I was absolutely certain that it would be positive. C was absolutely certain that it would be positive. And then it wasn't. We had a long discussion beforehand about how we shouldn't be testing until Wednesday, and agreed that a negative hpt wouldn't necessarily mean that we aren't pregnant. It might just mean that we tested too early (especially since we aren't 100% sure when I ovulated).

I understood that a negative was a real possibility and was convinced it wouldn't bother me...until only one line showed up on the test. Then I spiraled out of control like a kite in a windstorm. It was very, very bad.

So, for the sake of my sanity, I'm going to write out a timeline from around when I ovulated until now, and the changes C and I have both noticed. As embarrassing as it is, I'm going to list out every little thing (including things I normally wouldn't make mention of!). Please, be honest and tell me what you think. Have I become that frustrated IF-er who goes off the deep end and imagines that she's pregnant when she's not? Or did I really just test too early?

  • cd16-17: watery cm, became the best ewcm I've ever had

  • cd18-19: cramping (unfortunately I didn't keep the greatest track of when it stopped)

  • cd20: acupuncture

  • cd21-22: geographic tongue resurfaced (this usually happens after ovulation in my ovulatory cycles)

  • cd28: intermittent, unusual cramping (lower in my abdomen and centered); bouts of nausea that went away when I ate; sore/distended breasts (also noticed by C)

  • cd30: very tired; had a complete meltdown over dropping a piece of shell in the bowl while cracking eggs (this freaked C out a little; I was in tears over it); cramping only when pressure is applied to abdomen (i.e., dog in lap); overwhelmed by garlic smell in cupboard (but when I opened it later, I couldn't smell it at all); started having gas/burping (not normal for me!)
  • cd31: starting to get very congested; felt burning sensation in stomach throughout the day; constipated; veins are super-prominent all of a sudden (C noticed them too, especially on my abdomen and thighs); areolas don't look darker but the skin around them does

  • cd32: congested; very dizzy/lightheaded after eating (I didn't eat until I got to work); still have intermittent cramping; very tired

  • A lot of these things are continuous, so I just noted them on the first day I remember experiencing them. Also, I have woken up every day since cd28 at 5 or 6 AM to make a bathroom run. This is sooo unusual for me!

    So, what do you think? Did I test too early? Should I still be holding on to hope? Because, I have to tell you - I'm convinced that I'm pregnant. And if I'm not pregnant, then I think the only other option is that I'm insane.

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

    Will you think it's strange if I tell you that last night, I spent a very long time staring at my breasts in the mirror? Come on now - be honest. It's a really odd thing to do, isn't it?

    Yesterday I wrote that I just feel "different" - I wish I could find the right words to describe it. I can think of only two possibilities: either I am indeed pregnant (please! please! please!), or the acupuncture has caused some change in my cycle that I've never experienced before. (Normality, maybe?) Whatever the case, I've decided it's a good thing. One would definitely be preferable to the other, but both are good.

    Returning to the mirror: one of the ways I feel "different" is that I'm not experiencing my usual don't-even-look-at-my-chest-it-hurts-so-bad variety of PMS breast tenderness. They're sore, but only when I move. Mostly, they just feel swollen and kind of heavy. (Rather strange for these less-than-A cups.)

    Last night - during my marathon mirror session - I decided they look swollen too. I needed a second opinion, so I recruited C to the cause. (It was quite the sacrifice for him, as I'm sure you can imagine.) After much more examination than I think was really necessary, C declared that my breasts look bigger.

    This is huge (please pardon the pun), because C's usual response to any question regarding physical change is, "I don't know. I can't tell a difference. I'm not good at this stuff. Hey, is SportsCenter on?" Seriously! Once I had a huge swollen gland; it felt like a large pebble was lodged in my neck. He felt around it for a few minutes and then declared that he couldn't tell anything was different. But last night, he said he was sure my chest looked bigger.

    Combined with the strange bout of nausea yesterday morning, and the odd indigestion I had after breakfast today (I am not one to experience tummy troubles unless food poisoning or a Clomid migraine is involved), and the unusual not-quite-cramps cramps...yes, Fox Mulder, I WANT TO BELIEVE! (Ok, so I am a geeky sci-fi fan. No shocker there.)

    The simplest, easiest course of action would be to POAS. But, I won't. Strike that...I can't. For the first time in my life, I have a good reason to take aim at that stick, and I am running at top speed in the other direction. If I am misreading all these things - if this is normal PMS and I've just never experienced it before - if this is the closest I am ever going to get to knowing the excitement of being pregnant - then I want to ride just a little bit longer.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Sick? Or...Something Else?

    I think I'm going to throw up. And as backwards as it seems, I am soooo excited about that. I kind of hope that I do. Strike that, I DESPERATELY hope that I do. (Not only am I feeling sick today, but also twisted, apparently.)

    I am sitting at my desk this morning - blasting RED since there is no one else here (it just isn't music that can be played at a low volume) - and spinning through this merry-go-round in my head:

  • I think I'm going to throw up.

  • I really hate throwing up. I would rather do another hsg.

  • But if I get sick, it probably means that I'm pregnant.

  • Oh, I really want to throw up! Please, please, please!

  • No - wait - I don't feel sick anymore.

  • Hey, I think I'm going to throw up.

  • I actually ran to the bathroom a few minutes ago. When I got there, I felt fine. Now, back to queasy. I don't know quite what to make of this.

    Going through our insane-nine-cycles-of-Clomid phase, I noticed that the side effects got worse and worse each month. I had really horrible migraines right around 11-12dpo, with awful nausea. Once, I even threw up all over the couch without warning. We were so sure then that I had to be pregnant...after all, I can count on one hand the number of times I've thrown up in my life...but it turned out not to be the case.

    But this month, there's no Clomid to blame. And there is no denying that I feel different. It could be that the acupuncture caused me to ovulate "normally" and having never experienced "normal" PMS, I'm misreading every little thing. Incidentally, that particular list includes a super-sore, swollen chest; a conspicuous absence of the cystic acne that usually heralds AF's arrival; an emotional rollercoaster moving at speeds that rival light; and strange cramps that are not quite "right" - not consistent, not overly strong and not in the right place. The cramps are lower than usual, and more in the center of my abdomen than to one side or another. Oh, and of course...nausea.

    At this point, I'm incapable of coherent prayer anymore. All God is hearing from my heart today is "please, please, please, please, please, please, please!"

    I think I need someone to tell me to calm down and stop planning the nursery in my head!! (Like I haven't already got that one figured out after three years, right?) I'm too afraid to POAS - I'd rather have AF deliver the bad news, I guess. Today is cd28, and (worst case scenario) only 11dpo. It's a little early to be feeling any symptoms other than PMS. Which makes me think I'm blowing this all out of proportion...this is easier to believe now that the nausea is gone again. Five minutes from now may be a different story...

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Jon & Kate: Outside Looking In

    I'm sure the net-world is swarming with the buzz of "Jon and Kate will separate" this morning, and while part of me hates to jump into the Gosselin-gate saga, the whole situation bothers me too much for me to keep my mouth shut. When we first saw the Gosselin family on tv, C and I couldn't get enough. They seemed just like us: Kate has PCOS; Kate hates germs and loves control (in a funny way, initially); Jon is laid-back and finds the humor in Kate's craziness. Of course parts of the show were obviously orchestrated in advance, but the family at the center of it all seemed so real. We turned to each other and said, "Look, honey, it's a Christian infertile couple just like us - and they survived!"

    We thought Jon and Kate were a success story, in so many ways. They dealt with the heartbreak of infertility, not to mention the frightening realities of a high-order multiple pregnancy. Yet they seemed to come through everything with their love for each other and their faith in God intact. Watching their lives unfold on tv, I felt hope for our own situation. Infertility is a subject rarely broached on prime-time tv - much less in a positive and realistic way - and I was excited to see proof that there is life after PCOS.

    Then, I went into my "black hole" phase, and chose to distance myself from anything involving kids for a while. We stopped watching Jon and Kate, and were truly shocked when their tabloid nightmare unfolded recently. I've tuned in for a few minutes here and there this season, and the changes in each of them are truly unsettling.

    It's so easy to judge other people's lives. From the outside looking in, everything looks so simple, so cut and dried. And while it's wrong for me to judge them, I can't seem to avoid it. Part of me staunchly believes that when the Gosselins opened their home to the TLC cameras, they invited the American public into every part of their lives, private or not. They aren't actors in a summer blockbuster, they are a family at the crux of a reality tv show. This is what they signed up for: to broadcast the ins and outs of their daily lives to millions of viewers. And while a small part of me does cry out for grace for them, my heart truly breaks for their children.

    I so badly wanted Jon and Kate to announce that they would be cancelling their tv show, and taking some time away from their public lives to focus on rebuilding their marriage and their family. Or, at the very least, announce that they would be cancelling their tv show in order to allow the kids time to grieve and adjust to the changes in their family structure privately. Instead, I feel like they are exploiting their children's pain all for the sake of money.

    I can appreciate that the expenses involved in caring for a family of eight children must be overwhelming (not to mention, planning for their future). But at this point, it doesn't seem like Jon and Kate have financial "needs" - they are certainly not experiencing the current economic crisis in the same way most families are. Worst case scenario, they could probably reduce their standard of living and still more than manage to make ends meet.

    So I'm left this morning scratching my head...Jon and Kate said numerous times last night that they're doing this for their children. They want "peace" for their children. My question is, what kind of peace is brought by watching your parents divorce on a national stage?

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    June ICLW

    Welcome ICLW-ers! I am shocked that it's June already. This year is flying by much too fast...

    If this is your first visit to my little corner of the blog world, welcome! (Okay, so really it's much less than a corner; more like the tiny gap between the two pieces of baseboard that meet in the corner.) Here's the cliff notes version of my life: C and I have been married for four years. We've been trying to get pregnant for roughly the last three, but my ovaries have been less than cooperative. I've been "officially" diagnosed with PCOS; however, my physician thinks I may have endometriosis too. Lately she's also been tossing around words like "unexplained infertility." Ugh.

    In our quest to get knocked up, we've done nine clomid cycles and three IUI's. We were supposed to start IVF over a year ago, but I got cold feet. Currently, we are pursuing treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. C would like to move forward with IVF, and I think eventually we will - barring one of my ovaries becoming The Little Ovary That Could in the meantime. The acupuncture seems to be regulating my cycles, and I am cautiously optimistic that IVF won't be necessary. (Some days, I am even all-out optimistic. It's dangerous ground for me!)

    I'm glad you stopped by...I'm looking forward to getting to know you!

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    The Dreaded 2WW

    I had three acupuncture appointments this cycle (cd7, cd15, and cd20). Dr. M took a different approach this time around, and has been very pleased with my progress. In fact, we're pretty sure I ovulated! I had strong cramping on cd17-cd18, and a plethora of other fertility signs that I usually don't experience. (I'll spare you the gory details.) In terms of egg quality, late ovulation isn't such a great thing as I understand it (nor is cramping), but I was excited to see evidence that the acupuncture is working. Ovulation at all is a miracle, from these ovaries! So I am officially considering myself back in the game...and back in the dreaded 2ww.

    It's been quite a while since I've experienced a full-fledged 2ww. Our last IUI was over a year ago, and while we have continued to try since then, it's been...different from before. It's difficult to put into words exactly, but somehow the hope and expectation that usually comes with the 2ww has been lacking. Maybe it's because we weren't pursuing any medical intervention; in some way, though, over the past year I haven't been able to "feel" that pregnancy could be a reality for me.

    This cycle feels more like the medicated cycles we've done, in that the expectation of pregnancy has resurfaced. And I find myself daydreaming about things I thought I'd left far behind me...nursery set-ups, baby names, and car seats. Dr. M asked me during our last visit if I had the conviction that I would someday be a mother. I didn't quite know what to say. I used to feel that way, but over the last year I've layered so many walls around those feelings to protect myself. Now, I'm peeling back those layers and finding that my conviction is indeed still intact.

    Previous experience tells me that it's scary to give these feelings free reign...it only invites disappointment. But hope springs anew and I am back on the roller coaster. Welcome back to the dreaded 2ww!

    (Anybody got a stick? Apparently my POAS addiction is making a reappearance as well!)

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    Happiness = Blog Reading

    Ahhhhhhh...I've missed this. Sitting in front of the computer with my tea and my blogroll; it feels more like curling up at a coffeehouse and catching up with good friends! I have quite a bit of reading to do, and I am looking forward to it. Bring on the blogs!

    The Verdict Is In...

    And I survived the in-laws! It was actually an "okay" visit. I can't quite bring myself to say it was great, but it wasn't truly horrible either. Here are the highlights:

    C left work early last Friday so he could be home when they arrived; I had an acupuncture appointment scheduled. As luck would have it, they chose not to come on the weekend for which we originally invited them. Instead they picked the least convenient weekend, in terms of my biological clock. (Yes - believe it or not, I do actually have a biological clock. It may not keep perfect time, but it ticks every now and then. And it was supposed to tick last weekend, if you catch my drift!)

    The atmosphere was a little awkward when I first got home. Everyone was standing in the kitchen, and it just seemed...odd. I found out later that they hadn't stopped for lunch, which explained the vulture-like behavior. It certainly didn't help that my appointment ran very late, and the dinner I planned would take an hour in the oven. C's dad was a little critical of what I chose to serve, even though I had asked about their diet several times in advance. (We eat whole foods, grains, etc. C's dad is diabetic and was concerned about having a blood sugar low because he didn't get enough empty carbs. Hello! This is why I asked about their diet! And do you think maybe he should have eaten lunch??)

    They were also critical of how we've set the guest room up; I guess they didn't like where the bed was placed in relation to the air conditioning vent. Maybe, if they came to visit more than just once every three years, I would care...

    C's parents seemed more relaxed the next day. We drove them around the city, and did a few tourist-y things that C's mother was excited about. For dinner, we took them to a really nice Japanese steakhouse. They were impressed and had a great time. I had a great time, too, until they whipped out their floss harps after dinner and began picking their teeth. At the table.

    My head was pounding by the end of dinner; I am a human barometer, and a storm system was rolling in. For once I didn't mind the migraine, because it exempted me from an evening of Nascar. My headache was even worse the next morning, but I managed to join everyone for breakfast (we ate out). The real shocker came as they were leaving...the dreaded infertility conversation.

    I have to admit, I was surprised. There were no comments about what we should do, what path we should take, etc. Mostly, they were curious about the acupuncture, especially since it's something they've looked into for their own ailments. I was pretty up-front about our situation in general, and how my emotions and responses can change from day to day. One day it may be fine to talk about the babies in the family, but it might hurt too much the next. (Does anyone else find this is true, and it's hard to explain to people?)

    I had only one bite-my-tongue moment in the whole conversation, when C's mom asked me how long we would continue to try. That question hurts, because I what I hear is judgement on how long we've traveled this road already. As in, "you've put this family through enough, and now it's time to move on." And while I wouldn't be surprised if they do think that from time to time, I choose to believe that she meant well in asking it. So I answered very diplomatically, and said that the answer to that question can change from day to day, too. Inside, though, I was screaming...until MENOPAUSE, so there!

    C's mom surprised me yet again - she teared up as they were leaving, and thanked me for talking to her about our infertility. It helped me to see that she really does love us; she just doesn't know how to navigate this road.

    All in all, maybe their visit was more than just okay.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    The In-Laws Are Coming

    Usually, when I'm silent on the blog front, it's because I've eaten myself into a dark depression and am hiding in bed. Or, it's because I'm working out some things on my own and I'm not quite ready to write about them yet. When the words finally start to flow, I end up writing posts as long as War and Peace (and probably just as boring, too). My recent absence has been of the latter type. But now that I'm ready to pour out all the thoughts inside of me (and really, I need to!), there is only one thought I can express...

    The in-laws are coming. In just a few hours...the in-laws are coming.

    The screaming noise that you hear is me, looking at the mess I need to clean up before they get here.

    And the most fun part? I'm trying desperately not to think about all the excellent infertility-related issues that surface when we spend time with them. Look for long posts next week...I'm going to need to vent.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    More Stormy Skies

    I love a good storm. When we lived on Florida's Gulf coast, watching the summer storms roll in was one of my favorite ways to pass the time. I now find myself landlocked in the Midwest yet again, and while nothing compares to a good Florida sky in turmoil, I'm surprised that I can find beauty in the swirling gray Ohio ceiling I once despised.

    Today the sky looks like it's been frosted with marshmallow fluff. The clouds have depth, though, and I get the feeling that if I could peel them back, I'd find another layer of darker, more sinister clouds lurking behind. It seems to be a good metaphor for my life of late - an exterior shell of shapeless gray, hiding tumultuous tiers of anger and pain underneath.

    And oh! am I angry. I have hit a breaking point of sorts. I am so tired of pouring my heart out to God, and waiting for Him to say something ... anything ... ANYthing. But He seems to be as silent as the clouds above, and every bit as far from my reach. WHY doesn't He answer me? WHY doesn't He allow us to have a baby? WHY does He touch the lives of my friends with such wonderful blessings, and yet forget about me?

    I'm wrestling with the ageless question: "Is God good?" I know the party line. I can even quote it back to you, complete with Scripture references and pithy little sayings.

    Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He calms me...momentary, light affliction...God is more concerned with my holiness than my happiness...He keeps His promises: I will never leave you nor forsake you...I know the plans I have for you...plans for a hope and a future...

    Hope? The only thing I know about hope at the moment is that it's a big precursor for a letdown. It's the part of the roller coaster where you've just gone over the top of the first hill, and everything is in slow motion. For just a nanosecond, you hang suspended in mid-air, defiant against gravity's greedy grasp. And then, you fall. And fall. And fall. All the while picking up speed, until you think you're going to go careening off the track in a spectacular crash. Once you've resigned yourself to the inevitable, the car takes a sharp turn and gives you whiplash. Shell-shocked, you start to climb the second hill, and do it all over again. That's hope.

    I get the feeling that the storms in today's weather forecast are nothing in comparison to the storms raging in my heart...

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    The Return of Super-Whine

    What's that high-pitched, grating noise? Is it a bird? A plane? No...look, it's Super-Whine!

    Sorry, folks, but this isn't your average superhero-on-a-mission. (Not unless it's a mission to see how many people I can tweak off before 9 AM, that is.) No, this something else entirely...like a super-sized rant:

    I am soooo sick of everyone I know getting pregnant except me. It was easier to accept when it was the round of "first" babies, but the second and third pregnancies are killing me. It drives home the point that my friends are mommies and I am not. Still. I am beginning to question whether I ever will be.

    I started a new cycle last week, and ohhhhh. It was bad. I spent three days in bed, in excruciating pain. Since then, the pressure sensation in my lower left abdomen has returned with a vengeance (plus about fifty other hormonally-related symptoms that are driving me nuts...anyone notice my mood issues?). I was really hopeful that the acupuncture would have helped, and now I am disappointed yet again. Hope is a mean tease, you know?

    I have another appointment on Thursday, and I promised C that I would reserve judgement for now. Which is really hard for me...after all this time, I don't know how much patience I have left. The well is running dry...