A Pregnant Infertile’s Guilt

During my struggles to get pregnant, I got used to feeling left behind.  I was always thrilled for my friends who were getting pregnant, but I still felt left behind.

I just always figured that I would be the one who was left behind…

Amazingly, miraculously, I wasn’t.

Suddenly, I was the one who was pregnant.  Suddenly, I was the one with the happy news.  Suddenly, I was the one doing the leaving behind.

It wasn’t long after I found out that I was pregnant that the guilt set in.  I feel it every day.  I feel it with every sad blog post or tweet I read.  I feel it every time I write about my pregnancy.  I feel it every time I go to the doctor and hear that my pregnancy is going smoothly.  Please don’t get me wrong…no one is making me feel this way but me.  I just can’t seem to help it.

I found so much support and love in the infertility community, and in a lot of ways, I feel like my pregnancy almost hinders me from continuing to give my support and love to those who are still struggling.  When I’m too tired to keep with with all the posts, I feel horrible and unsupportive.  When I do leave a comment, I worry that I come off as the smug pregnant woman.  The truth is, I still keep up with your struggles.  I have literally burst into tears at some of your major sorrows.  The wounds of infertility are still very fresh for me.  I remember that pain clearly, and I often forget that I’m not still struggling with you.

Infertility has truly changed my life, and it’s something that I continue to deal with each and every day.

To those of you who have never struggled with infertility — Please reach out to your friends who are.  They need your support sometimes more than you know.

To those of you who are struggling with infertility — I’m still here.  I’m still cheering you on…but I totally understand if you need a break from my awkwardly pregnant world.

To those of you who have joined me in land of the pregnant infertiles — Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way!

Fertility Fridays — Volume 5

This week, I figured I would answer a few questions that relate to my recent big news.

Erin wanted to know — Are you worried that the hormone treatments might mean that when you do get pregnant it will be multiples?

During my first IUI cycle, I literally didn’t sleep at all because I was terrified I was going to end up with quads.  I got over that pretty quickly when things just weren’t working.  We were certainly aware of the risk for multiples, and willing to take that risk.  We took a very medically responsible approach to our treatments, so I felt that we would be ok.  As much as TV makes it seem that higher order multiples are a regular thing, they really aren’t.  Truthfully, I did have hopes for twins just so we would never have to even talk about fertility treatments ever again.  I am thrilled that we are expecting twins.

Ashley wondered — You said before on twitter that you wanted books for pregnant infertiles. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Are you still considered infertile? Will your pregnancy be any different than a “fertile” person?

First things first.  My endometrioses, while in a sort of “remission” during pregnancy, hasn’t disappeared.  Women who have PCOS still have PCOS when they get pregnant.  Low sperm count still exists after a pregnancy.  So, yes, I would say that we are still infertile.  In addition to the physicality of it, there is a mentality that goes with it as well.  I will always be part of the infertile club, and proud to be.  Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’m going to forget what a struggle it was to get here.

As far as my pregnancy, I do think that it will be different in some ways from that of a fertile person.  For example, I’m currently taking progesterone supplements, which is something that most fertiles never have to deal with.  I have also had 6 doctor’s appointments during my pregnancy, and I’m not even 6 weeks pregnant.  Most women at this point in their pregnancies haven’t even had one appointment.  Finally, I think that emotionally my pregnancy is very different from that of a naturally fertile person.  Sure, some of the emotions and fears are the same, but I’ve got years of baggage and fear that came before this pregnancy.  That didn’t all magically disappear when a second line appeared on a pee stick.  It’s a big emotional adjustment to go from wondering if you will ever get pregnant to carrying twins.  When you pick up a regular pregnancy book it’s all about how excited you must feel, and most books only have a page or two about infertility.  I really feel that there should be a What to Expect Now That You’re FINALLY Expecting for those of us who have struggled to get here.

That’s all for this week!  Do you have a question (infertility or pregnancy related) for Fertility Fridays?  If you would like to submit a question, simply fill out this form.

Pregnant?

Generally, when people learn that I’m pregnant, the response is something like this:

OMG!  I’M SO EXCITED!  WOO HOO!  FREAK OUT!  FREAK OUT!  CAPS LOCK CAPS LOCK CAPS LOCK!!!!

Generally, when I think about the fact that I’m pregnant, my response is something like this:

Pregnant?  Huh.  Really?  Huh.  Really?

Everyone is expecting me to be so excited/over the moon/on cloud nine/beaming/thrilled/etc.  I do feel those things from time to time, but it’s not an accurate assessment of my overall emotional state.  Truthfully I still feel shocked, confused, overwhelmed, anxious, and a little bit terrified.  I’m not comfortable in my own skin.  With each day, the pregnancy does become more real for me, but I still haven’t really accepted it yet.

It really is such a strange place to be right now.  I feel very much in limbo.  I’m so used to being an infertile that that’s the group I identify the most with…but I feel a little awkward in that community because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling.  Still, I definitely don’t feel like I belong with all those other moms-to-be out there, because so many of them really don’t understand what it’s like for me.

I just keep thinking that if I actually had some major symptoms, I might feel more comfortable.  Right now, I have some minor breast tenderness, some minor cramps, and I’m a little moody.  Other than that?  Nothing.  I want to be puking my guts out.  I want to be so exhausted I can’t get off the couch.  Instead, I just feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I expect my period every time I go to the bathroom.  I panic after every blood test.  I know it’s early, but I just want to feel pregnant.

I have been trying to write this post for days, and I’m still not sure that it makes any sense, but it is what it is.  Sometimes you just have to post the word vomit.

Fertility Fridays — Volume 4

So, even though I seem to be on a whole new journey now, I still want to answer your questions about my infertility journey.  Some of the questions might be strange to answer now that I’m on the “other side”, but I promise that I haven’t forgotten just what it felt like.

Stephany wondered — How is IUI different from IVF?

And Megan wanted to know — What is the entire process you have to go through for an IUI?

Well, IUI and IVF have some similarities and some differences.  This post will focus on IUI, and we can talk about IVF in the future.

There are a few main components to IUI (intrauterine insemination, formerly known as artificial insemination):  ovulation induction, monitoring, trigger shot, semen preparation, and the actual IUI.

  • Ovulation Induction — This is the practice of using medication to cause the body to produce follicles, or eggs, for ovulation.  Clomid is the most popular drug for this purpose, but Femara is also used.  Clomid and Femara are typically taken on days 3-7 or days 5-9 of your cycle.  There are many injectable drugs that are also used to develop follicles.  Injectables are taken starting on day 3 of your cycle and generally stop right before your IUI.  The type and amount of drugs you take will depend on your diagnosis and your doctor’s preferred methods.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring involves blood work to check your hormone levels, and ultrasounds to follow follicle development.  How often you are monitored depends on the type of drug you are on, your response to the drugs, and your doctor’s preferred methods.  For example, some clinics monitor on Day 3 and Day 12 of your cycle, but I generally had at least 4 monitoring visits per cycle at my clinic.  After the IUI, you will also have blood work to monitor your progesterone levels, and eventually to check for pregnancy.
  • Trigger Shot — A trigger shot is an injection that will cause your ovaries to release mature follicles after 36 hours.  Generally, you take your shot once you have one or more mature follicles.  Some clinics do not have you use a trigger shot when on Clomid, and instead have you rely on Ovulation Predictor Kits to know when you will ovulate.
  • Semen Preparation — About an hour before your IUI, your husband will drop off (or collect at the clinic) his semen sample for preparation.  The semen count is checked, and any dead or abnormal sperm are cleaned out.  I have no idea how this is done.  Let’s call it magic.
  • IUI — About 36 hours after your trigger shot, you will go in for your IUI.  The IUI is performed by using a speculum to visualize the cervix.  A catheter is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, and then a syringe of semen is inserted directly into the uterus.  The process generally takes only a few minutes, and then you get to lay around for about 20 minutes.  There is no science that says laying on your back will increase your chances, but it can’t hurt!

I’m going to walk you through an IUI cycle with Clomid just to give you an idea of what the process looks like…

Cycle Day 1 — First day of your period.

Cycle Day 3 — Monitoring visit to check hormone levels and look for cysts.

Cycle Days 3-7 — Take Clomid

Cycle Day 10 — Monitoring visit.

Cycle Day 12 — Monitoring visit.

Cycle Day 14 — Monitoring visit.  If follicles are ready, take trigger shot.

Cycle Day 16 — Semen preparation and IUI about 36 hours after trigger shot.

Cycle Day 21 — Blood work to check progesterone levels.  Progesterone is needed to sustain a health pregnancy.

Cycle Day 28 — Blood work to check for pregnancy.  Not all clinics do this.  Some have you test on your own.

So, there you have it.  One nice and tidy IUI cycle.

Do you have a question (infertility or pregnancy related) for Fertility Fridays?  If you would like to submit a question, simply fill out this form.

Wherein I Freak Out

I made this video blog on Thursday night, shortly after taking my first positive pregnancy test.  Even though it’s a little out of date now, I thought I would share.

Freaking Out! from Erin on Vimeo.

Not Negative

On Thursday night, I took I pregnancy test…and it wasn’t negative.

I took another test Friday morning…and it wasn’t negative.

I went for blood work on Friday morning…and it wasn’t negative.

My HCG came back at 83.

I’m pregnant.

Right now I’m feeling shocked, surprised, confused, and exhausted.

I know you are all eager to know more, but there isn’t really much more to tell at this point.

Thank you all for your kind tweets and e-mails, and for all of your support on this journey.

Dear Potential Baby

Dear Potential Baby,

Here I am.

Waiting for you again.

Hoping that you are really coming this month.

I think about you all the time.

Every day.

I think about getting that phone call that will tell me you’re actually there.

I think about telling your daddy about you for the first time.

I think about seeing your heartbeat.

I think about seeing your face on the ultrasound screen.

I think about telling your grandparents that you are coming.

I think about how my mom will be your Nana.

I think about how my dad has been praying for you for so long.

I think about what we’ll name you.

I wonder if you’ll have your daddy’s eyes and my hair…or my eyes and your daddy’s curls.

I think about how you’ll smell so amazing when we meet you.

I think about how you’ll have a tiny baby nose and tiny baby toes.

I think about snuggling you.

I wonder what Rufus and Kaya will think of you.

I think about your future.

I wonder about your first day of school.

I wonder if you will love reading as much as your daddy and I do.

I wonder what instrument you’ll want to play in band.

I wonder what you’ll grow up to be.

I wonder if you’ll ever know just how amazing you are to me.

I think about you all the time.

I really hope we get to meet you soon.

Love,

Your Potential Mama

Do This, Not That

Well, here we are.  The dreaded two-week wait.  Sure, the injections and the ultrasounds are not so thrilling, but the two-week wait has it all beat in terms of suckage.

Two long weeks to wait for the results of your pregnancy test.

Two long weeks that are always filled with pregnancy announcements and a million other things to remind you of the state of your womb.

Two long weeks where your body plays non-stop tricks on you.

Two long weeks where time drags it’s feet just to spite you.

So, you wait…and wait…try not to go insane…and wait.  It’s really fun!

Clearly, distraction is the key, but what’s a safe distraction?  You can’t just watch any old TV show or read any old book.  You need a plan, and I’ve got one for you.  It’s the “Do This, Not That” plan to survive your two-week wait!

Do This: Dinner with your fellow infertiles or other sensitive friends.
Not That: Parties where you will have to explain why you aren’t drinking and suddenly don’t like shrimp.

Do This: Watch TV shows with no babies. The West Wing and Buffy are a good place to start. You can also try the first 3 seasons of How I Met Your Mother (in season 4, two cast members are pregnant, and there is a lot of annoying big-bag-in-front-of-the-belly shots.)
Not That: Avoid things like Teen Mom, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, The Pregnancy Pact…anything that is obviously about babies. Also look out for Private Practice.

Do This: Google cute puppy videos on the internet. Puppies make you smile.
Not That: Try not to look up your potential baby’s due date….or early pregnancy symptoms…or anything else related to babies. Just don’t go there.

Do This: Have your husband pre-screen your Facebook homepage for any possible baby announcements, photos of cute baby bumps or pee-sticks, etc.
Not That: Don’t log onto Facebook alone!

Do This: Read something fun and trashy. How about some Sookie Stackhouse? Everyone loves vampire sex!
Not That: Really, you probably shouldn’t read anything, because any book you pick up will have a baby in it!

Do This: Delete your charting app from your iPhone. You don’t need to anally track your fake pregnancy symptoms.
Not That: Don’t write down and agonize over every little twinge. Your boobs only hurt from smashing them so often to check if they hurt!

Do This: Call your fellow infertiles to whine about how long this damn wait is taking and to commiserate about the 9 million pregnancy announcements that have taken place recently.
Not That: Don’t call your mom. She’s just going to ask when you will find out the results.

Have I left anything out?  Probably.  The world is a minefield of baby reminders just waiting to blow up in your face.  Good luck surviving!

A Lovely Weekend

I’m still counting today as the weekend since I got to stay home.  Lucky me, right?  Plus, Ted was home Saturday, Sunday, and most of today.  So amazing.

Since I know you are all dying to know about our IUI, I’ll start with that.  We had our 4th IUI at 1 p.m. today, and it was our best IUI to date!  Two lovely, mature follicles, and 30 million sperm.  30 million!  That’s double our best previous number.  We are very, very excited and feeling hopeful.  Now, only time will tell.

Saturday and Sunday were spent on some fun little home improvement projects…

My fantastic London plates are hanging in the kitchen!  Squeeee!

Out with the old, nasty rug.  Now we have a pretty new office rug, and Kaya approves!

New shelves, new desk, and new side table.  Swoon.

Front view of new office space.  The books on the floor are flattening out the rug.

Desk detail.

Snazzy drawer that is perfect for Macbooks!

Totally unrelated, cute, puppy butt.  For Elizabeth.

Hope you all had lovely weekends, and that Monday wasn’t too rough!

Featured on Fertility Authority

I’m thrilled and oh so flattered to announce that I am this week’s featured blog on one of my very favorite sites, Fertility Authority!

Please head on over there and check out my interview post.