Thursday, December 23, 2010

Until next year...

I was going to write a rant outlining all of the other reasons (non-sad, non-IF related) why I don't particularly like this time of year and why I'm choosing not to participate as much as others. As I was writing the post in my head, as I do with all of my rough-drafts, I suddenly had an epiphany and it was this:

I am an adult. I can say 'no' to whatever I choose and the best part? I don't have to feel guilty about it. Saying 'no' doesn't make me a bad friend, a bad daughter, a bad wife. I'm not begrudging anyone else the right to enjoy the holiday season as actively or as quietly as they choose. I'm choosing not to explain myself any further than I've already done.

To everyone, I hope you have a happy, safe and love-filled holiday season - however you decide to celebrate.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Exactly what I needed to find...

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

-Robert Frost

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blue Christmas Part Two

funny pictures
Today started off happily enough. Then, about half way through my lemon ginger tea, I just started to cry. Not a little cry, but a whole body, sobbing, eye-reddening cry. I didn't understand it at first. When the crying didn't seem to want to end, I left my body to it and curled up in my brain to try and figure it out. As it turns out, there was a whole host of reasons.

The first, and most obvious reason, was the fact that it is December. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, or you've spent the five minutes it takes to get through my archives, then you'll know that the holidays make me feel like this. My tears were a little excessive for that to be the only reason, so I dug a little deeper.

'Lo and behold, infertility reared its ugly head again. I had thought that making it through my EDD (estimated due date) for Ball of Cells #1 in October meant that I could tuck that little piece of sadness away for awhile. Turns out I was wrong because you know what? If life were fair, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this particular blog entry. I'd be writing something much happier about baby's first Christmas and about what The Boy and I had planned for our first holiday season as a family of three. I have to accept the fact that this isn't the year we'll hang a 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament on our tree and this isn't the year that I'll make a little stocking for our son or daughter. There won't be any tiny Christmas outfits bought and there won't be any pictures with Santa to share with the grandparents.

Instead of all that, I'll be spending my holidays trying to care. I'll be plastering a phony smile on my face and acting like it's just so freaking wonderful that it's Christmas. I'll be pouring all of the energy I have into trying to be happy for the sake of The Boy because I don't want to ruin his Christmas.

To be honest, I'd like to fast forward to January (well, to February if I'm being really honest, but that's a whole different story). In truth, I don't want to have to attend any family dinners because I don't want to run the risk of any talk of babies. I don't really want any gifts because there's only one thing that I desperately want and it's not going to come wrapped up in a box under the tree.

As an atheist, the supposed 'true meaning' of Christmas doesn't mean much to me. That leaves me with gathering with friends and family, eating, drinking and being merry. I like all of those things but I'd rather spread that all out throughout the year. The pressure at this time of year to BE HAPPY irritates me. Maybe that's just because I have a contrary nature and being told to do or be something only makes me want to do the opposite. Who knows?

At any rate, today 'I has a sad'. Figuring out why didn't make me feel any better. Writing it down made me feel a smidge less like sleeping for a month. Getting a response from someone who understands in my online buddy group helped even more. If you're like me and you're missing a baby that should be in your arms, please know that you're not alone. If you're struggling to start your family and it's just not going the way that it should, you're not alone. If you're struggling to add to your family, you're not alone. If you're wishing that December was just another ordinary month, you're not alone.

I'm grateful for all of my 'sisters' who are struggling along with me and for the strength they give me to keep hoping and trying.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Funny Because It's True...

It's possible that I've been giving the impression that infertility (IF) is all doom and gloom, tears and rages, and hysterical sobbing on floors. While it is difficult, a lot of us Infertiles have gotten pretty good at finding the humour in our situations as well. It's a dark humour, much like laughing at funerals, but I think it's an important survival tool. I know a number of women who would definitely see the funny in the following cartoon from the good folks at Married to the Sea Enjoy!:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Social(ly Inept) Butterfly...

I had a friend stay with me this past weekend and we were discussing social circles, friends lists, and meeting new people. Having recently moved to a new city, I've had a few people suggest to me ways in which I might meet new people and I've had more than one person offer to 'set me up' with some social contacts. I know that the people making these suggestions have my best interests at heart and I'm sure that the friends of my friends are all lovely people. However...

I honestly have no interest in meeting anyone new. I have little interest in 'getting out there' and the idea of having to forge a new friendship exhausts me. I'm sure that some people will think that I'm weird or depressed or afraid. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and who am I to try and change the way they think?

My reasons for wanting to keep the status quo and not add to my little circle of friends are quite simple. I'm protecting myself and choosing to only have people in my life who make me feel comfortable and supported. I only want the people who get me in my life right now. At some point I'm sure this will change and I'll be open to new friendships but that time is not now.

You may have guessed that this relates back to the struggles the Boy and I are having in starting our family. Yup, we're back to infertility - aren't you sick of it? Don't you think I'm being dramatic? Don't you think I should just GET OVER IT? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you should probably just stop reading my blog because that's not going to happen until I'm typing one handed while trying to feed a baby. Bye! And thanks for reading.

Those of you that are still with me, let me explain. I'm glad to be here in this new city where hardly anyone knows me. I'm glad that it's just me and the Boy. I need this time and I think he and I as a couple need this time. As I said earlier, I'm sure my friends only want to introduce me to all the best people they know and I'm sure that there are many, many great people in this fair city. The problem lies in meeting people my own age because you know what? A lot of people my age are having or have had babies. I don't need to meet any more of these people. I know quite enough people already who are having or have had babies. I love these people and I love their children and their soon-to-be children and even though I love them it still pains me that I'm not like them. So, no, I don't need to add any parents or future parents to my list of friends because I don't love them yet and it will make me crazy if I have to be happy for people I don't even know.

All of that may make me sound like a bitter, jealous person. Perhaps I am. I don't know. All I know is that I'm sad and struggling to not be. All I know is that all of the energy it takes to meet new people is energy I need to spend in trying to remain positive and cheer myself on. So, please, don't be offended if I don't jump at the chance to meet up with your cousin's sister's best friend who's a super awesome nice girl. I'm sure she is but hey, my dance card is full.

It's not entirely true that I'm not making any friends. I've actually built up quite a great circle of new friends...they're just all online and not living in my city. I met them through a fertility website. Does the fact that I've never met them face to face or talked to them on the phone lessen their importance? Not at all. They could all live on different planets and it wouldn't matter. If I'm ever having a bad day or I feel like screaming, I know I can go to our group and each and every one of them will understand. Sometimes all a person needs to feel better is to have someone else say 'Hey, I've been there.' I don't need to meet them for coffee or shopping to get this same sense of reassurance or comfort. I'd like to, but I don't need to. This might be one of the greatest contributions the internet has made to society.

I hope my 'real life' friends who are reading this don't think that I don't appreciate the shoulders they've offered to me to cry on. I'm eternally grateful to all of my friends who have been there for me in what ever way they could. Fortunately, I don't know a lot of people in real life that are struggling with infertility. Unfortunately, this can sometimes make me feel like I'm boring them with my problems. Let's face it, I'm kind of an infertility broken record right now.

In the end, what really matters to me is not whether I have 2 or 200 friends. What matters is that I have just the right friends. And I do. This is all I need. The rest of the world will still be there when I'm ready for it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Universe 2 - Happy Ranter 0

As the title suggests, the Universe has kicked my ass for the second time. Over the past couple of weeks I've been in 'beta hell' as I've had blood test after blood test to monitor the pitiful stopping and starting of hCG in my system....again.

In August, I got my period and shortly after that, because I was feeling weird, I tested and got a positive on a home pregnancy test. Given the circumstances (being that you shouldn't get your period if you are in fact knocked up) I had a pretty good idea that this was not going to have a happy ending. That's not to say that I had no hope. Some women do bleed early in pregnancy and go on to have a healthy baby, so I held on to a small shred of 'maybe'.

A couple of blood tests soon made it apparent that I would not be one of the lucky ones. There was a small rise, followed by a fall and it was decided that my previously scheduled hysteroscopy and d&c would proceed as planned. Fortunately, that procedure was performed under general anaesthetic so as far as I was concerned, it was really just a very good nap. When I came to, the doctor told me that everything appeared normal and that some tissue had been taken for testing. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a requisition for yet another blood test. The Boy took me home and made sure I was comfy and well fed.

Fast forward to today. The clinic called with the results of my last blood test following my fun filled afternoon at the hospital - the numbers went up. WTF, Universe? Granted, they only went up a smidge but an increase is definitely not what I was expecting or hoping for. Since the doctor told me that the results of the biopsy indicated no evidence of a uterine pregnancy, the numbers can only mean that I have an ectopic pregnancy. Fortunately, with the numbers being so low, he expects that it will 'resolve itself'. To be on the safe side, I have to go for another (*#$%@) blood test on Monday and an ultrasound the following day. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the hCG in my system bottoms out by test time on Monday. If it doesn't, I have to look at the possibility of surgery or harsh drugs to finish the job. I'd like to avoid either of those things.

So, that's what my body is doing. Mentally and emotionally, I've parcelled everything up and am keeping it all locked away in a little tiny room. I've had a couple of moments of almost tears but I'm refusing to give in to them. Sounds healthy, no? It's just easier right now to remain detached. As I told the buddy group I belong to online, this poor little ball of cells is already being treated like the middle child - it's not getting nearly the same amount of attention as Ball of Cells #1 did.

Perhaps my sense of humour is dark but I feel fortunate that I still have the ability to laugh in the face of this. What else can I do? If I were to lay out before me all of the feelings and thoughts surrounding this experience and the previous one I would be consumed by rage and devastated by sadness. Instead I choose to stand back and not get too close to all of that. I choose to survive it and push through. I choose to not let the Universe win.

If I'm anything (besides infertile, of course! ha ha!) I'm stubborn. If it takes me another 20 years and I become a creepy granny aged woman having her first baby, I will do it. I said in my previous post that infertility is kicking my ass - well, screw that. It's my turn to kick back and I plan to do a wicked Chuck Norris style roundhouse on infertility. Be afraid, Universe. I'm coming for you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Resistance is futile...

Dear Blog,

I have been ignoring you. Possibly avoiding you. I am The Happy Ranter, and yet, while I still find plenty to rant about in any given day, there is only one topic that I really want to rant about right now and I was afraid you might start to find me boring.

The truth is, Blog, infertility is kicking my ass. It's making me sad. It's making me angry. While more than just that is going on in my life, I still feel as though I'm living in blocks of time - the time leading up to ovulation followed by the time leading up to testing. Everything else is just what happens during either.

The Boy thinks I'm being very negative. He thinks I'm bitter. I understand why it seems that way to him, and probably others. In all honesty, I am very bitter - it's not right that this should be so hard, not just for me, but for so many others as well. It's not fair. As for being negative, that comes in waves. When everything thing has been timed just right, and I wait for the day I can use a home pregnancy test, my heart is full of hope. It's a desperate hope, but hope none the less, and it grows and grows. The so called Two Week Wait (or for me, ten days because that's just how my uterus rolls) is a time of heart-swelling, please-oh-please wanting. Inevitably though, my period shows up, and those first days are dark and yes, full of negativity. The fall from that high of hope is a long one when I realize that it was all for naught. It leaves me feeling broken and sometimes it takes me a day or two to put myself back together.

So, Blog, I hope you don't mind but for the next little while you and I aren't going to bother too much with the outside world. We're not going to discuss all the foibles and ridiculousness of people at large. Instead, you and I are going to concentrate on what it's like to be struggling with infertility. We're going to reflect on loss and on what it takes to move beyond it. We're going to open up a dialogue with anyone who cares to join about how to navigate this constant ebb and flow of hope, fear, and longing.

Maybe, if I'm really lucky, you'll be just the ticket to helping me get to the other side. Maybe, dear little Blog, using you as a vehicle for sharing this burden will leave me feeling lighter and will help me get to where I want to be. Maybe we'll help some other people along the way, too. Wouldn't that be great, Blog? To know we helped someone else feel not quite so alone? I'm willing to give it a try.

The (Not Quite So) Happy Ranter

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Door Crasher...

I was sitting on the bus today waiting for the driver to get his ass in gear and get me home. Let's say the bus is the blue car in the diagram to the right. To our left on the other side of the bike lane, traffic was coming to a stop for the red light. I was busy scrolling through music on my iPod when suddenly there was a crash against the side of the bus about 6 feet in front of where I was sitting. I look up and there is a cyclist laying in the bike lane, most of his bike on top of him. Next to the bus was a white mini van with its passenger side door wide open and a very sheepish looking teenage girl climbing out.

Now, I didn't see exactly what happened but I can assume that the girl opened the door without looking, the cyclist swerved at the last second, bounced off the side of the bus and hit the ground. The man riding the bike stood up, brushed himself off and uttered what I can only imagine were some choice words in the direction of the girl and rode off.

So, accidents happen, no one got hurt and the since the bus wasn't dented, no damage to property. Where's the rant? I hear you ask. My rant is this:

The girl who caused the accident, as I said, looked sheepish and she was clearly having an 'Oh, shit' moment. However, the ENTIRE time, she not for one second lost the ridiculous smile on her face. I could see her mouthing the words 'I'm so sorry' at the cyclist, then she looked at the driver of the van (I assume her mother), then she just stood there....smiling. After the cyclist got up and rode away, she stood there for a second or two and then walked around the bus....still smiling. Now, I understand that she was probably dying of embarrassment since a street full of rush hour traffic and a bus load of people just witnessed the accident she caused. I also understand that humans are weird and sometimes we laugh when we should cry and vice versa.

What I don't get though is that she didn't even attempt to help the guy up. The bus driver managed to get out there and ask the guy if he was okay but she just stood there. Smiling. What is wrong with people? Take your head out of your ass, get over your misplaced feelings of being the centre of the universe and help the person you just caused injury to. How hard is that? It's crap like this that makes me wonder how we'll ever manage to sort out the really big problems in the world when people can't even perform simple acts of decency.

Anonymous smiling teenage girl - you should be ashamed of yourself. Despite your inability to wipe that inane smile off your face, I hope you learned your lesson.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm sensing a theme here...

Feet. More specifically, photos of feet, much like this one of my feet taken on a beach on the way to Port Arthur, Tasmania. The water was surprisingly cold. I should tell you all about that little trip the Boy and I took to Tasmania, but that's a story for another time.

Back to the feet. Lately, it seems like every blog I visit - and I visit so many wonderful blogs, I really should start making a list - there is a photo of the blogger's feet. Some are in shoes, some just in socks, others are bare but the line of the shot is almost always the same. It's not really unusual but I found it funny that I kept coming across photos like this.

There are changes *afoot in my life at the moment. My feet are once again itchy. This started awhile ago but the plans to scratch the itch were drawn out, future plans. Now the scratching has begun. The first phase of the plan is in motion and in a matter of weeks, I will no longer be calling the island home.

I am excited about what is to come, and maybe also a wee bit petrified. Mostly excited though. I feel like I've been asleep for a really long time and now I'm just starting to wake up. I feel an energy creeping back into my bones and a sense of possibility that has been missing. It feels good.

There will be more to come on this topic but before I really spill all of the beans, there are a few people I need to tell face to face. Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed that I find a lot of boxes in the next couple of weeks.

*sorry, I couldn't resist.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Culling my 'friends' list...

At some point, hopefully in the near future, I will be moving to Vancouver. To prepare for this I started piling up all of the things I don't want or need anymore with a view to donating them or just throwing them out. Lately, I've also been making small changes in my lifestyle to a) boost my self esteem and b) get me healthier. This means less junk food and less sitting on my ass.

Maybe this has gotten me on a purging roll of some sort but I don't feel like it's going to stop with household goods and potato chips. I've been looking at my friends list on that book of faces recently and the cursor has been hovering over 'delete' on more than one of them. For those of you with hundreds of 'friends' on your lists, this might not sound like a big deal but I've only got 40. There are some friends of friends that can go and I don't really have any qualms about that. It's the ones that are in a closer circle to me that are causing me the issue. As I'm writing this I'm thinking 'This is stupid. Just delete them!' and I probably should. I mean, before I even had a profile on the site, I didn't have daily contact with these people and that never bothered me. Why all of sudden because I can see what game they're playing or what they're having for dinner tonight, do I feel like I should care? Geez, I think I've just made up my own mind - thanks for letting me ramble. The delete button and I are going to get up close and personal tonight.

In a similar but more complicated vein, I also have a friend in real life (remember that? REAL life?) whom I'm no longer as close to as I once was. Obviously, this happens to everyone as we grow up, move away, start families, etc. Lately though, even the occasional bit of contact I have with this friend is proving stressful and more than I really want to deal with. I don't wish her any ill will. I just have enough on my mind and going on in my life that I need to deal with and to be honest, the times I do hear from her just bring me down. There isn't any 'delete' button for this situation. I'm not really sure how to go about it. I've tried to extricate myself from the relationship by not initiating contact but that doesn't seem to have worked and really, it doesn't seem very fair. I should let her know. What can I say? If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

I've got the apartment to myself tonight and there aren't any good movies on anyway, so I guess I'll sit down and try to write out what I want to say and then edit it to what I should say. I'll let you know how I go.

Being an adult blows. Can't I be six again?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's been a good weekend - a good start to another year in the life of the Happy Ranter. Last night was family dinner which was delish (and I was sent home with the rest of the cheesecake!). Afterwards, I met up with CC at the local pub and knocked back a couple of beers. Sadly, by 'a couple' I literally mean 'two'. Geez, I'm old. Oh, but there was also one shot - CC wasn't about to let me get away without one.

Today I went to watch some very lively African dancing put on by MoonDance. CC was taking part in a couple of dances so I was more than happy to be there to check out her new moves. I was very proud of my friend for having the guts to get up and dance. The music was energetic and joyful and afterward I walked home with a bounce in my step. If I wasn't so unco, I'd probably consider taking a class or two myself.

The rest of my day was spent doing laundry, grocery shopping and procuring myself some dinner from the Thai restaurant down the street. Maybe not the most exciting birthday ever but it's the end of the day and I'm feeling happy and relaxed. Who can ask for more than that?

In other recent news, I recently took part in a walk for Infertility Awareness. Little did I know when I first heard about the walk that it was actually a group taking part in the Victoria Day Parade. CC was game to come along (even after I told her about the parade part - what a friend!) and we had the honour of being the banner bearers at the front of our group. It was a fun day, we had great weather and it was an interesting way to see the city - walking up the middle of the main street. We got a lot of cheers as we went along and one couple held up their baby and pointed vigorously at him - clearly a success story of fertility treatments. Seeing that got me a little teary eyed because it truly is an amazing, wonderful thing that there are so many options for a couple to get help to have a baby. To see people so obviously thrilled with their little one and proud of what they went through -what they survived - is uplifting.

As for myself and infertility - I've officially reached the age where I now belong to the category of 'Advanced Maternal Age'. That's a horrible trio of words to be strung together. It sounds as though we're all grannies trying to have babies. I don't consider myself 'old' but as far as making babies is concerned I am apparently no spring chicken! My doctor has yet to specifically mention my age as being an issue, or tell me that I have old eggs, so until that happens I'm not going to worry to much about the AMA tag.

I still find myself occasionally having moments of sadness over the miscarriage, sometimes I still cry. It is getting easier though. What really helps is taking part in increasing awareness of infertility and the struggles people have. The walk, this blog, talking about it to anyone who wants to listen - it makes me feel better to think that I might be helping others, even if only in small ways.

Even more important to me is the support I've gotten from all of the wonderful people in my life - my family and my friends. I know that those closest to me have shared my pain, some have even shed a tear or two. Without that, I might still be feeling as though I was unable to function and I am so grateful that I have such people in my life who shared that burden. It made my pain seem less because they took a piece of it from me and lightened my heart that little bit. I know that when The Boy and I are eventually successful in starting our family - no matter what road we have to take to make that happen - all of these same people will share our happiness and the celebration will seem that much brighter.

To all of you that have been there for us, thank you. It means more to me than I can say.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sad Ranter

It’s been awhile since I last posted anything. To be honest, it’s been awhile since I even looked at or thought about my blog. My brain has been otherwise occupied.

If you’ve read previous posts then you’ll know all about my TTC (trying to conceive) woes. I thought it was as bad as it could get but Life decided to bitch-slap me. At the beginning of February I got the one thing I’ve been wanting for so long - a positive on a home pregnancy test. Because I’d been having some spotting, my doctor sent me for repeat blood tests to monitor my hormone (hCG) levels. The two weeks following that first test were torture as my levels went slowly up (far more slowly than they should have) and then as they started to fall. Another week later and it was all over. The physical pain when I actually miscarried was so much worse than any of my usual cramps. At least that pain was over in a day - the pain in my heart just won’t quit.

I thought I was doing alright through the month of March. Obviously, those first few days were hard and I shed a lot of tears but apart from a few moments of anxiety and blinding rage, I thought I was holding myself together pretty well and moving past it all.

Last week I came to the realization that that just isn’t true. Lately, I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything for any length of time. I find myself staring off into space and feel like I’ve been losing chunks of time. I alternate between fighting to hold back tears and fighting to keep myself from screaming at people. I’ve been losing both of these fights with greater frequency.

The first week in April would have been the 12 week mark had the pregnancy continued. That’s when the Boy and I would have started sharing the news. It doesn’t take a genius to put that together with my increasing difficulties and come to an obvious conclusion. I like to think of myself as being a pretty strong person but this is crushing me.

I know all of the rational things I should be telling myself and that others, including my doctor, have told me. Things like ‘At least now you know you can get pregnant’, ‘At least you weren’t further along’ and ‘There was probably something wrong and your body just knew what to do’. Believe me, I am glad to know that I can get pregnant and I’m grateful it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy. All of those things, while true, aren’t a magic balm that soothes the pain.

I’ve been talking with a counsellor and doing my own reading - the word ‘grief’ has been coming up a lot. I found an article online (which I can’t find again since I came across it randomly in the first place) that talked about the grief that follows a miscarriage. It’s different from grieving for someone who’s died because you don’t have the memories of the person to bring you comfort. Instead, you’re grieving for all the hopes you had, for the future you imagined that’s now slipped from your fingers. It’s hard for me to even understand my own sadness. How I can I miss so much someone I never even had the chance to meet?

One of the issues I’m struggling with is the feeling of failure. My own body has betrayed me. Worse, it’s betrayed my husband. The initial reaction to the positive pregnancy test was stunned excitement. I can deal with my own disappointment but how do I deal with his? Telling my parents about my loss wasn’t any easier. Everyone has been completely supportive but I still feel like I’ve let them all down.

Bigger than the sense of failure is my anger. I’m so ANGRY that this has happened. I want to know why but there is no answer to that question. There is no physical problem that can be pointed at and named as the culprit. It’s just ‘one of those things’. Would I feel better if the doctor was able to say ‘Well, X is the reason you miscarried’? I don’t know. I guess I would at least feel like if there’s a known problem, there might be a known solution or things to try.

There isn’t though. There isn’t a single concrete reason that anyone can give me. All I’m left with is trying to work through it. How I’m supposed to do that, I’m not quite sure. I can talk about it, write about it, think about it until the end of time and it won’t change.

Time is supposed to be the great healer, and I know that it is. I know that eventually this won’t hurt as much as it does. I wish I knew when that time would be. I wish I could see that point on the horizon when I won’t feel like screaming and when I won’t randomly burst into tears for no apparent reason.

I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to take this week off of work. Having the luxury of not having to use my brain for a good solid length of time has been good for me. There are also some life changes being set in motion and I think that will be good for me too.

*disclaimer* I hope I haven’t made it sound like I’m a complete mess all the time. Most of my turmoil has been going on inside. There has only been the occasional meltdown or outburst of expletives. Really, what else is new?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I haven't quite fallen off the face of the earth. Close but I've still got at least one finger hanging on for dear life.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I have an epic post coming up.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

On a personal note....

So, the day or two I first estimated for a new blog post has been stretched out to the following month. Oops. I’d like to say that I was incredibly busy and simply had no time but that’s not true. I haven’t been a complete slug but I did have a few spare moments on my hand when I could have posted. The reason for my blog avoidance is that I have been wrestling with what to say. I started this particular post a number of times but always had to walk away from it. The last few posts and the comments that followed them have brought up a lot of self-reflection and emotion in me. I struggled with knowing how much I wanted to share with the world at large but now I’ve decided that I just want to put what I’m feeling out there. I don’t care if anyone reads this or not. I’m writing this for myself because I’m hoping it will help me to feel better. If it helps someone else out there to realize that they’re not alone, that will be an added (and welcome!) bonus.

I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of what The Boy and I have gone through thus far in our endeavours to procreate but I will say that this past weekend has been one of the worst I’ve ever had. In my last few posts I’ve kept a distance between myself and the subject. I don’t want to do that now. I want to put down exactly how all of this trying to conceive business affects me.

The Boy and I have been trying for awhile but it’s only been fairly recently that we’ve reached a point where things are looking more hopeful. Even with that new level of possibility, every month that goes by that we’re not successful is incredibly hard and painful for me. I know it’s not easy for The Boy either, but I’m not going to speak for him here. Bless his heart though, he puts up with me and I don’t know that I would have the same patience. By this point, I probably would have thrown me out and changed the locks.

To give you an idea of what I go through, here is a break down of any given month:
I start off with my period (too much info for you? Better stop reading) and the first couple days of this are the worst. For at least 48 hours I hate everything and everyone, with the exception of very few people. I get angry, I get sad, I get numb. This is followed by another three to four days of the same but to an ever lessening degree.

The next two weeks, approximately, are spent waiting for my fertile window to open up again. This means taking my temperature every day, noting it on a chart, checking all of my other signs (cervical position, cervical fluid etc) and noting those as well. At some point in the this two week time frame, I start collecting urine samples. I dip my ovulation predictor stick in and wait for that elusive second line to show up. This line has to be equal to or darker than the control line to show that my LH surge is happening. It can be surprisingly easy to miss so sometimes I’m dipping more than one stick a day. Once I know ovulation has occurred, yay! I can relax a bit, except not really because the Boy and I should get one more shag in and then the dreaded Two Week Wait begins.

The two weeks after ovulation are enough to send me round the twist because I’m not the kind of person who is full of infinite patience. Plus, I tend to get a lot of mid-cycle spotting so that’s always awesome. Oh, and before you tell me I should see a doctor about that, I have. More than one. There is NO EXPLANATION that can be found. I’m just one of the ‘lucky’ people who spots. My doctor actually said this to me. I could have slapped him.

As the two week wait draws to a close, it’s nearly impossible not to feel a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the Boy and I were successful this time and I’ll actually reach the day where I can use a home pregnancy test. More often than not, in fact, pretty much every single month, I don’t reach that date. My period shows up with infuriating regularity and I’m back at the beginning.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is but it’s my life so I’m used to it. I hope it gives everyone a better idea of why this is so hard for me and for others like me. It is an emotional roller coaster and it gets very wearing. This is why I don’t need to hear everyone’s ‘helpful’ suggestions, or stupid comments. I have enough on my plate, thanks.

On top of all this, I’ve also got all of my emotions to deal with through the entire cycle. Much of it is hormone based but some of it is my reaction to the world around me. I find it supremely unfair that some people get pregnant without trying, or by accident. I’m jealous of them and their success. Jealousy isn’t a popular emotion though and it’s deemed socially unacceptable, but guess what? It exists and I feel it and I’m not going to pretend anymore that I don’t. For those who think that I shouldn’t feel that way, or think it’s wrong, I don’t need you to tell me that because guilt goes hand in hand with the jealousy. Mostly because some of the people I’ve felt jealous of are people I like. So, thanks for your self righteous input but I already beat myself up for it.

I hate the assumptions that people make that because my husband and I don’t have children, it must be because we’re not trying. The next person to ask me when we’re going to have a baby is going to get an earful. I’m sure some people will think ‘Oh, but they’re just being helpful/curious - you can’t get angry at them for what they don’t know.’ Um, yes I can. If someone is going to ask me when I’m going to get pregnant, they may as well be asking me about my sex life and that is none of their business.

Worse than anything though is the disappointment and the grief. Once a month, I spend a day or two feeling like a failure. I feel like I’ve failed the Boy. I feel like I’ve failed my family. I feel like I’ve failed myself. I can’t understand why my body won’t cooperate. Apparently, neither can the doctors.

Once a month, I feel like I’ve lost something or someone important. I hate that I have to start over again. It breaks my heart, every single time. But I have a life and a job and I have to put on my brave face when I’d much rather be crawling under the covers. Some people might think I should get over myself and stop being so dramatic. Those people can bite my ass. Everything I feel is valid and unfortunately, it’s way too common. Grief and depression related to trying to conceive are well documented and suffered by way too many women. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone and anyone who thinks that I or anyone else in a similar position should just suck it up has no idea what it’s like and would be wise to keep that opinion to themselves.

It’s probably obvious that I’m in an angry phase of my cycle right now. Perhaps I shouldn’t blog while pissed off but where’s the fun in that? This has been somewhat cathartic for me and since it’s my blog and I’m reaping the benefit, it’s all good.

I’ll be back to my regular ranting soon, so I thank my readers for sticking around while I’ve detoured into more personal areas. The Happy Ranter will be happy once again, just give me about four more days.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Damage Control

It seems things got a little heated in the comments on my last post. I suppose, given the sensitivity of the subject, and of related subjects, it’s not surprising. To be clear, I would like to say that the opinions expressed in the comments section are not necessarily those held by the blog owner (that’d be me). However, I would also like to say that having read the comments, I have tried to look from each persons perspective and I think I understand where each of the parties were coming from. I’m of the opinion that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We all come from different backgrounds and different experiences - this is what our feelings and views on any subject is based on. I think it is important to be able to respect this even when someone’s opinion or view may be contrary to our own and may also be personally hurtful.

That being said, I also believe in a person’s right to stand up for themselves, to express their anger if they’ve been hurt, and to respond to the individual or group who they feel have overstepped the bounds. As this is my blog, a forum in which I express my opinions on a range of subjects, I fully expect that not everyone will be pleased or agree with the things that I say. If people want to respond to something I post, I welcome the comment and am glad to open up discussions.

I do feel some responsibility for the comments section because what I write is the catalyst that prompts the first comment and it flows from there. I’m pretty open with my comments policy because I do believe in free speech (with some exceptions - I will not tolerate threats, racial slurs, discrimination based on sexual preference, etc - I don’t believe any of these are necessary to get one’s point across). While I find it unfortunate that anyone was upset by any comments (or if anyone was upset by anything I wrote), I will ask that commenters refrain from name calling or personal attacks on other commenters. I understand completely that sometimes anger can make it nearly impossible to self edit, however, any such comments made in future will be deleted. I certainly don’t want it to appear that I don’t respect the validity of any commenters feelings or that what they say may well be the true view of the person making the comment, but this is my blog. If anyone is going to call some one an idiot (fucking or otherwise), it will be me.

Note: I did have an entirely different post in mind for the follow up to the last one but I felt I should respond to what had happened. I’ll be posting that in the next day or so, if anyone cares to check back.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Say What? Part Two.

Apparently my last post was quite popular! Thanks to everyone who stopped by! I had a few comments from some lovely people that had some suggestions for additions to the list of what not to say - perhaps there will have to be a revised version posted at some point in the coming months. Stay tuned!

I also had a comment from Spongeknuckle who brought up the question of what a person CAN say to people faced with infertility. In the name of fair play, I'm going to try to answer that now. To be honest, I had started this post in a totally different way and was going to be just as (hopefully) funny as I was in the previous post. I've changed my mind (I'm allowed! I'm a Gemini!) and I've decided to just write this one straight. Okay, maybe I'll throw in something a little funny here and there but I'm doing that for my fans. Naturally, I don't want anyone to think that because my previous post was written with a humorous bent, that I wasn't completely serious. I was and am. The truth is, if I didn't laugh about some of the comments that have been made to me regarding fertility, I would cry. And I have.

So, below is a breakdown of why the things I posted about previously should not be said to people with infertility issues:

1. ‘Just relax’ or suggestions of holidays or getting tipsy are fine suggestions to make to a friend if you’re hanging out or trying to think of something fun to do. To someone who struggles with infertility, these comments are dismissive and don’t show an appreciation for how difficult the person’s or couple’s situation is. People who have a known (or unknown) medical reason why it is difficult or near impossible for them to get pregnant on their own or with medical assistance would very much like to just relax and have it happen. Think of it this way, you would probably never think of telling someone with heart disease or cancer to ‘just relax’ and they’ll be cured. You would never suggest that a trip to the tropics and a couple of Mai Tais would have them right as rain.

2. Suggesting to someone with infertility that they should have more, or less, sex, or try a different position, or god forbid, that they’re doing it wrong (even if that is meant in jest) is insensitive and laughable. When people have reached the point that they become aware of their fertility issues, it’s probably a safe bet that they’ve tried every position they can think of, and might even have a few to share with people who don’t have an issue with getting pregnant. Chances are, people who are actively trying to have a baby and have been trying for a while, they’re probably having more sex than anyone (well, except maybe porn stars...).

3. Flippantly, or with the best of intentions, telling someone that they should try IVF or Surrogacy, or donor embryos or that they could ‘just adopt’ shows such a lack of thought. To even just figure out that a woman has infertility issues can take some very invasive testing. To actually reach the point of making a choice of what to do next - IUI (in-uterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization) to name a couple of common ones, is terribly difficult. All of these procedures involve quite hefty costs which are often not covered by health insurance. Having to lay out thousands of dollars for procedures that give no guarantees is way beyond the reach of some people. If a couple is lucky enough to have the funds available, they still have a tough road ahead. As for adoption (which I think is one of the most amazing things people can do), despite how easy Madonna and other celebrities make it look, it is also a long and emotional process. You can’t just walk into an adoption agency and walk out with a baby. It takes years.

4. To tell someone who is having trouble getting pregnant that they should just put the thoughts aside for awhile and not think about it or stress about it, is like the old trick of telling someone not to think of a pink elephant. People who are trying really hard to get pregnant can’t help but think about it. It’s a constant that is with them all the time. For a woman who’s charting, it is the first thought on her mind when she wakes up because that’s when she has to take her temperature. Her life is broken up into two week increments (or there about, depending on the cycle) of waiting to ovulate and then, waiting to see if she and her partner were successful. And let’s not forget all the constant external reminders - such as the ad for pregnancy tests on my t.v. as I write this!

5. For people who are lucky enough to be pregnant, or who already have children, it’s not that people having problems with fertility hate all parents with a passion. It’s just that to hear people who have or are having children complain about any aspect of it is incredibly painful because infertile people would love to be in that position. Of course, pregnancy can be uncomfortable and children can sometimes make a person crazy. The key is to choose your audience. Complain to your friends who already have kids, or who are pregnant. If you won the lottery, you probably wouldn’t complain about how hard it is to decide what to buy to a friend who couldn’t pay their rent.

6. In my opinion, the most insensitive thing that can be said to someone struggling with infertility is that it’s ‘not meant to be’ or that it’s all ‘God’s plan’. There is no excuse for ever saying these things. There is no justification for why babies are being born to people who abuse drugs, or to people who will abuse their children, and not to people who desperately want children. As for God, not everyone believes in the same one, or in a god at all. While some people take great comfort in their faith, it doesn’t hold the same weight for everyone. Since I’m an atheist, the God comment doesn’t really bother me but I can imagine for someone who does believe and who does suffer with infertility, that must be incredibly painful to hear. If you’re going to make either of these comments to someone, you may as well just say ‘I think you’d be crap as a parent; you really don’t deserve it’. Go ahead and kick them since they’re already down.

I hope that makes things a little more clear as to why such comments can be so painful. If people (and I need to keep this in mind as well) would simply stop and think before saying the first thing that comes into their heads, that would go a long way. As the lovely Red, and another anonymous commenter mentioned, if you don’t know what to say, it’s probably best to not say anything at all.

With these posts I’ve pretty much thrown myself (and The Boy - sorry!) out of the infertility closet and into the open. I can say with absolute certainty that there are millions of couples like myself and my husband in the world. I’ve met a number of them. The odds are good that one or more of the couples you may know, who don’t have children, or even those that already do, are having issues with infertility. Some may be open to discussing it, others won’t. There’s no sure fire way to tell - we’re not marked for easy identification.

Some people have no intention of having children, others want nothing more. Whatever the case, the issue is an intensely private one and is nobody’s business but the people involved. If they’re willing to talk about it, and you’re privy to that, the best thing that could be said is ‘I’m here if you want to talk, and if you don’t, I understand.’

Monday, January 4, 2010

Say What? What Not to Say to the Fertility Challenged.

As I was telling a friend tonight, one of my resolutions for 2010 is to drop my filter and start telling people what I really think. Now, to explain myself, I should say that if I think what you’re telling me is wrong, or if I think that you’re just being obtuse, I will tell you that perhaps you are wrong or that perhaps I think you should stop being a tool. I will do this politely (the first time, at least) but I will be firm and stand up for myself. My intent isn’t to be a bitch and jump down the throat of everyone I meet. I just don’t want to be anything resembling a door mat anymore.

In that light, I need to rant. As you may know from my profile blurb, or from knowing me personally, I (with my husband) am trying to have a baby. Since there is no baby in evidence in our apartment, obviously, things on that front aren’t going as planned. I’m not going to go into all the gory details as to why this is but we are seeking medical help and it is all proving to be difficult, especially emotionally, for me.

So, that combined with my new resolve, brings us to my rant (the first of the year! Yay!). Today I rant about infertility and the stupid things that people have said to me, or others suffering the same, seemingly regardless of whether they know my situation or not. I post this rant for myself and also on behalf of all those suffering from infertility or secondary infertility. Dealing with this is hard enough without also having to deal with the stupidity, insensitivity and/or mindlessness of others.

To make this simple, I’m providing a list (oh, the list is so much longer!) of some of the things you shouldn’t say to someone who may be suffering from infertility. You don’t have to know for a fact that the person you’re talking to is having difficulty. If you suspect they are, or if you just flat out don’t know, please, err on the side of sensitivity and utter NONE of the following:

1. Just relax and you’ll get pregnant (Oh, is that how it works? Because you know, I was just so uptight during my partying 20’s)

2. Go get drunk one night! That’s what happened for me when I got pregnant! (Oh, is that how it works? Because you know, I was just so sober during my partying 20’s)

3. Go on holiday! We got pregnant on vacation! (Oh, is that how it works? Because you know, blah blah blah)

4. I read that male infertility is on the rise. (Um, thanks Dad. That was really helpful)

5. Have more sex. (Crap! We have to have sex?)

6. Have less sex. (Um, you know basic biology, right?)

7. Elevate your butt after sex. (Could you give me a degree of elevation? Because I’ve actually tried this and nada. Should I just hang myself upside down from the ceiling?)

8. You could always adopt. (Wow. Thanks. Sadly, I’m not Brangelina so I can’t just walk into a Third World country and buy a baby)

9. Your mother never had a problem getting pregnant. (Thanks again, Dad! Your advise has been invaluable!)

10. You’re thinking about it too much. Stop thinking about it and you’ll get pregnant. (Uh huh. So, if I have a lobotomy, remove my heart, and cease production of all hormones, I’ll get preggers.)

11. At least you can travel/go to movies/sleep in whenever you want (What’s that? You’re sorry you had children because now you can’t take that weekend trip to Vegas? Give your kids to me, you undeserving twat)

12. God has a plan and you have to accept it. (As an atheist, that holds zero weight with me. As far as I’m concerned, God might be the crazy cat lady that lives two doors over. Pretty sure she doesn’t have a ‘plan’ for me)

13. Maybe it’s not meant to be. (But crack whores and Britney are ‘meant’ to be parents? No, I do not accept that)

14. Why don’t you just try IVF/Surrogacy? (Gee, I hadn’t considered that those might be my options. Mind if I exhaust every other avenue first?)

15. Oh, geez! Morning sickness/extra weight/overheating is SO hard. Be glad you don’t have to deal with the pains of pregnancy! (Um, I would gladly rip off my own right arm to be in your position. Do you hear me? MY OWN RIGHT ARM!)

16. Maybe you’re not doing it (sex) right. Hahaha. (Oh, man! You are funny! Come a little I can punch you in the face.)

If you think that maybe this is too much for you to remember, or if you think that maybe you're not capable of making a judgement call for yourself about what should or should not be said to possibly infertile friends, please, by all means, copy and paste the above list. Put it into the word program of your choice and print it out. Share it with other socially inept friends! Laminate a small version for your wallet! I, and other fertility challenged couples will thank you.