CD1

(There’s a little TMI in here. You’ve been warned.)

It happened. 8 months post-baby, I finally got my period. I’d been feeling crampy and achey for a few days, but I chalked that up to… well, everything. I have a tiny person to take care of, I’m still nursing, maybe I’d eaten a cheesesteak sub that day… Whatever the reason, I brushed it all aside until one morning, I saw IT. The streak of red that I should be used to since I’ve been dealing with it in one way or another since I was 12.

I’ll admit that when I first got my period at 12, I was confused. I will spare you the details, but it wasn’t how I imagined it, certainly not how Judy Blume made it sound. I finally copped on and proceeded to steal pads from my mom for a few months until I womaned up and told my mom I needed my own supply.

Around this time, many of my friends started on theirs. One friend in particular had a party of sorts. Her mother and other motherly friends had a celebration to honor her transition to womanhood. I remember her telling me this and thinking “That’s nuts. There is no way I’m celebrating this.”

For the rest of my adolescent and adult life, I viewed my period as an inconvenience. I have never, not once, thrown myself a party.

So this time around, all I can say was that it was weird.

Oh, the period itself was fine. If anything a little lighter than I was used to in days of yore, but mostly it was fine.

But I was weird. How I felt about it was weird.

For YEARS (yes, multiple and in all caps) I’ve been vaguely terrified of blood coming out of my nether regions. There were the 2 years of TTC, where my period marked another failure and another loss. Then while pregnant, I was worried in the back of my head that *something* would go wrong, so I went to the bathroom each time with a tiny sense of dread until that day in June when I did see some spotting, and was on bed rest for two weeks.

Now I have absolutely no reason to feel conflicted about my period. But I do. Kinda. Maybe.

It’s hard to shake years (YEARS) of conditioned response to something, to anything. We are creatures of habit. My habit has been to get my period and feel a profound sadness and fear. In a way, I realize this is positive because it means my body is returning to its old self (whatever the hell that means post-pregnancy.) But in my head, it also signifies the end of something. The end of what, is what I’m struggling to articulate. As much as I didn’t love pregnancy, I have loved being Chick’s mama. Once he made his way out and safely home, I’ve enjoyed taking care of him. And my body has played a role in that. My period seems to be signaling that my days as the physical sustainer of life are numbered.

Perhaps more than anything, it is that this CD1 marks the beginning of the end of Chick’s first year. He will be 9 months in a few short weeks. It all seems to have gone so fast.

(Note:  Mr. O’s response was “That’s great. It means your body is getting back to normal.” Le sigh… sometimes dudes just don’t get it.)

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Judgement Day

Soooo… I may be a bad person. Maybe.

Here’s the back story:

A coworker of mine had a baby via surrogate around the same time as Chick. Not only were we due around the same time, our babies were both born premature. He and his husband have been trying to have a child for years (everything from adoption to 4 failed surrogate pregnancies) so I was really very happy when I learned they were expecting a child. If anyone knows the long, hard road to fertility, it’s me…

But this is where our stories diverge.

Said co-worker, “Pea” as he will be known from here on out, isn’t just a coworker, he is the head of my unit. Which means he makes bank. Upon learning that he and his husband were expecting, Pea sold his fancy loft in the city and moved to a multi-million dollar home in the ‘burbs. His husband stays at home with their daughter. They hire a babysitter once a week so they can have a date night. They also hired a night nanny when their child was teeny so that they could get a good night’s sleep.

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“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” -The Great Gatsby

Um… yeah. That’s not my life. There are times I feel a bit like Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby. I can see the fancy, but I always return at the end of the day to my tiny cottage just next door to Pea’s metaphorical (and come to think of it, LITERAL) mansion. 

Because our kids are close in age, Pea will occasionally ask me how Chick is doing. Specifically, if Chick is eating solids yet, rolling over, playing with sensory toys, etc. It wasn’t until recently I realized he is comparing his child to mine. It’s like Chick is a litmus test. On one hand, I get it… as new parents, you don’t know what is normal. On the other hand, I’m not entirely comfortable with the tone of some of these conversations.

And still I’ve managed to be mostly pleased for him. Sure, there are times where I just marvel at what having money can do. Yes, there are times when I wish I could provide X for Chick or Mr. O if only I made a kagillion dollars. But these times are mostly fleeting.

Recently, Pea and I were catching up over the proverbial water cooler when he drops the bomb. He and his husband are trying for another child. They found another surrogate and had just completed an FET. I was kinda gobsmacked. I can’t imagine having another child right now. Chick consumes so much of my time, even when I’m not with him. How on earth can they be starting on another child so soon? I will admit it– I got judgey. (On the inside. All on the inside, because I have the best polite poker face ever.)

I’m not really happy with my reaction to this. It’s complicated. I’m about to be completely honest here in an effort to get to the bottom of this… *gulp*

First, is it because they are wealthy? Not only can they afford to buy a fancy house, have a parent stay at home, hire a night nurse, and all the rest, they can afford another surrogate. Mr. O and I are just making it work with the cost of daycare, diapers, etc., while still meeting all our financial obligations. A second baby right now would make my bank account implode.

Second, is it because they are men? Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t start on child #2 right now because my body is still recovering. (It takes between a year and 18 months to fully recover from pregnancy and childbirth.) Not to mention that I’m still supporting Chick through breastfeeding. Because neither of them is carrying the physical burden of this child, they can bounce into baby #2 much easier than I could.

Third, is it because they are having a baby at all? As so many of you know first hand, there is a part of me that will be infertile forever. Birth announcements still sting a little, even though I have a baby of my own. I see pregnant women and I cringe (all on the inside.) Infertility is a wound that doesn’t heal, never fully.

Or four… is it a big ol’ sauce of all three?

In all of this is the lingering question of why another person’s happiness has to reflect on my own. I don’t think I’m alone in this– keeping up with and feeling insecure about the Joneses is as American as apple pie. I do wish I were better at keep that nagging need for comparison at bay.

LISTICLE: 12 Women with Perfect Responses for Why They Don’t Have Kids

For a long time, I was ambivalent about having children. There are a lot of reasons for this that I won’t bore you with. The great irony, of course, is that once I knew I wanted kids, having them proved really difficult.

Through out both phases of my life– Meh on kids and Yay on kids– I was always baffled by how many people asked me outright if I wanted children. At parties, at the copier in the office… It pissed me off, and I always had such a hard time finding a graceful but firm way to tell people that this was none of their business.

Once I started down that craptastic journey of infertility, these questions weren’t just annoying– they were hurtful. Some people don’t have kids because they can’t have kids. Others don’t want them. Neither position is really anyone’s business.

Which is why I love this list of famous women sans children calling out this shit head on.

Well done, ladies. Well done.

12 Women with Perfect Responses for Why They Don’t Have Kids

IF Break

When Mr. O and I found out we’d be spending this cycle getting tests done, we decided to take a break from active baby-making. It seemed like a good idea to live like normal people for a few weeks before we jump into whatever medical circus awaits us.

Here’s why.

Back on Labor Day weekend, I was at a friend’s cabin on a lake. It was beautiful, warm, sunny. And I didn’t notice. I floated in and out of conversations, read magazines cover to cover but couldn’t tell you what they were about. On the last day, I was cajoled into going tubing– where one holds on for dear life while one is dragged behind a speed boat. I distinctly remember thinking “I should be having fun right now.” Not “Motherfucker! This is fun!” Not “Holy beejezus, I think I’m going to die!”

“I should be having fun right now.”

That’s how I knew something was off. I normally love that kind of stuff. But it felt more like a duty I had to perform in order to prevent everyone from asking what was wrong. In short, I was not myself and I was doing a marginal imitation.

As I’m sure you’ve all felt at one time or another, I’m tired of being infertile. Not just because I would like to have a baby, but I’d really like to stop googling, reading articles, charting every weird little secretion. After two years of this, I’m ready to think about other things.

So I decided to act like I’m not infertile for this cycle. I stopped obsessively charting my symptoms. I gave up on the trove of vitamins I normally take. I drank alcohol, once even to excess! I also took a break from blogging. (Sorry to anyone who missed me, but it was necessary.)

With my free time, I went out with friends. I watched TV without secretly thinking about fertility protocols the whole time. I read. I made massive batches of tomato soup. I doubled down on my half marathon training. Just in time, I started coaching again. Though I still feel a little bit like a zombie, but at least I recognize that I’m feeling like a zombie. That seems like progress some how.

CD1 has come. And with my RE appointment today, I’m about to dive back in. Ready or not, here I come.

“Well, Of Course.”

Today I went for my sonohysterogram, and Anti-Mullerian tests. Because Dr. Petrel was on vacation, I had to go to another office which was about an hour north from my home. Charming.

I got there a little early, and did my best to keep calm. Pat myself on the back, I was pretty successful. Before I left, I did some meditations and practiced recentering my thoughts. I had to do it a few times in the waiting room, but mostly I gave off the impression that I am emotionally balanced.

First up, ultrasounds! You ladies all know the drill- pants off, scooch your bum down to the edge of the table, lay back and relax. (Ha!) As the nurse performed the ultrasound, she asked if I had peed before. Yes, twice. Turns out my very effective kidneys were filling up my bladder yet AGAIN. She could see it. Which makes total sense, but it’s a little strange to have someone tell you that they can see your bladder getting full.

Then we moved along to the sonohysterogram. I’ve had an HSG before, and the process is very similar. Neither I’ve found to be particularly pleasant, mind you.  People say that this isn’t a big deal, and it really isn’t. But I would like to state for the record that for me, this is more than “just getting a pap.” It’s legit uncomfortable.

The doctor who performed the test was a younger woman, probably around my age. She was light, fun, asked me about my weekend. For some reason, we ended up talking about gay pride parades. I noticed that she was poking around in there a bit longer than my HSG– my cervix was playing hide-and-seek.

I do not mean to freak anyone out who hasn’t had a sonohysterogram or HSG, but I KNOW when that catheter is in. I started cramping and I had to catch my breath for a second. The lights went off, the wand went in, and they got down to work.

It’s strange to lie there and have people talk about what’s happening to you, just not talking at you. At a certain point, the doctor said that the saline balloon was deflating, so they needed to get the pictures quickly. They’re snapping up pics like my uterus is Kim Kardashian, when the doctor says “It looks like there is something on the anterior wall. Can we get that?” She starts jiggling that damn wand around, which seemed to have moved the catheter around too. At this point, I could feel my uterus getting bloated. I knew it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel right.

DR: Are you doing okay?

ME: Yeah… (unconvincingly)

DR: Are you feeling [INSERT MEDICAL JARGON HERE]?

ME: I have no idea what that means.

DR: Are you feeling dizzy? Nauseous? Sweaty?

ME: I am a little clammy…

DR: Okay, we’ll get this finished up then.

When they were done (which was mercifully soon), the doctor went over the results with me. Drum roll, please… I have two very small polyps in my uterus, one toward the front and one toward the back. I took the news like a champ. No idea why, since my usual MO is to freak out over everything. On a certain level, I was expecting this. I actually said “Okay, when do we schedule the operation?” (Some of you may remember this premonition from my post on Friday.) I have to wait until Dr. Petrel is back from her vacation for the final verdict, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting those suckers removed.

I put my pants back on, and waddled out to the car. I was half way there when I remember that I need to get my blood work for the Anti-Mullerian test, and I waddled back in to have my blood drawn.

As I drove the 45 minutes back to my workplace, I was abnormally calm. I was definitely feeling crampy and crabby, but that was my body, not my mind. Mostly, I just thought that this is another step on my journey. I was struck by this one thought, however.

My body really does not want to get pregnant.

It’s growing polyps, producing fewer/low quality eggs (potentially- still waiting on the AMH test results.) It’s throwing all sorts of roadblocks here. To quote some other blogger somewhere: “My body isn’t a wonderland. It is an asshole.”

I want to be clear- I do not think that this is “a sign” or that this is anyone’s “will.” I still believe that all these hurdles are surmountable. But let’s be real: if it weren’t for the miracle of medicine, I would have a very slim chance of getting pregnant at this point. Let’s hear it for science!

As a postscript to this delightful day, I learned a good friend of mine is pregnant. She is one of the folks in my life who knows about my IF dramz, so she wrote me the sweetest note about how happy she is, but how she understands if I’m upset. I honestly appreciate that she chose to email me personally, rather than get ambushed on Facebook. And as we’ve established, I’m truly happy for her. Her joy is my joy– until the Universe stops being a tool and gives me a little of my own.

However, I was struck by the timing. I’m sitting at my desk– hunched over in a ball recovering from my sonohysterogram crampage– when I get the email. She’s growing a baby. I’m growing polyps.

“Well, of course.”

Sometimes Su Casa es Mi Casa

Over the past several weeks, a few bloggers I follow have announced their pregnancies. (Seriously, there must be something in the water… and I’m clearly not drinking it.)

To be 100% honest, I have been over-the-moon excited every time. No lie.

I don’t mean to come off as self-righteous. Because for every pregnancy announcement, I’ve also read posts from non-pregnant infertiles who can’t take one more. And I get these folks too. Believe me, I understand that gnawing, aching feeling of being left behind. (Aside: Is this what prisoners feel like when their cellmates get released? Happy and sad at the same time?)

My motives are entirely selfish. Over the past year, I’ve seen so much mother fucking sadness that I’m done. From my mom’s health challenges, my father losing his mind to despair, my sister’s diagnosis, and my own soul-crushing infertility… My life has become a maelstrom of shit. One big swirling storm of TERRIBLE.

The way I see it, I need to celebrate joy any where I can find it. Or else I will turn into a hot, quivering mess of cynicism and hostility. If that means being grateful for a morning run, bring it on. If that means devouring an ice cream sandwich, I’ll take it. And if that joy is your pregnancy, I will shout it from the metaphorical rooftops, my friends.

So for the record, please do not feel the need to apologize for being pregnant. I’m so happy for you that I don’t have the words to describe it. Conversely, do not feel the need to apologize for feeling a tiny bit (or a shit ton) sad. I know that feeling. On my worst days, I am the physical embodiment of that feeling.

When it comes to IF, I don’t think there are any rules. We do whatever we can to get through it.

Little Victories

For the first time in a while, I feel like I have positive news to share. That feels so foreign.

Actually, there are a few bits to share. Nothing earth shattering. They still feel like victories, so please join me in celebration.

1) A fellow IF blogger is finally pregnant. This was my first, i.e. the first of the bloggers I follow to share their happy news. I am beyond excited for her, to the point I was literally dancing and singing around my apartment. (Weirdly, to “Que Sera, Sera”. There must be subtext in there somewhere.)

I know what you’re thinking… “That’s nice and all, but how is that your victory?” Because for the first time in 2 years, I am happy about someone’s pregnancy without reservation. At no point have I looked at my own vacant uterus and felt bad.

This feels like progress.

2) I successfully felt something other than envy when seeing small children. I went for a 6.5 mile run this weekend with Mr. Ostrich. We run through this arboretum in our city, which is a hot spot for runners, cyclists, dog walkers and baby walkers parents with small kids.

While charging this particularly brutal hill, I saw two little girls who were saying hi to an old man on a bench. The older girl had tons of advice for her sister on how to greet old people properly. (No kidding, it was hysterical.)

Rather than thinking “Damn you, and your adorableness,” I thought “I remember when my sister used to do that to me.” Which sparked a series of pleasant and hilarious memories of my childhood.

High on endorphins? Or maybe I’m emotionally evolving…

3) TSH levels are back to normal! I got a call from my doc’s office, and -hurrah!- my body is responding to Synthroid nicely, and my levels are now within baby-making range. High five, self!

Sure, these seem small in the scheme of things, but they are mine. I’m owning the good stuff in my life LIKE A BOSS.