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I’ve thought about this post for the past few weeks. I knew I wanted to say something, but I wasn’t sure what, and everything I wrote just didn’t seem right.

A few weeks ago, we made a decision – we’re not going to actively try to get pregnant anymore.

I have felt it coming for a while. It started with feelings on the other end of the spectrum…a growing impatience, an increasing fixation on all things ttc, fleeting feelings of doubt about our decisions not to pursue infertility treatment, frustration with my progress in acupuncture…It made me question where we are, and what we’re doing.

I started acupuncture with optimism, but with more of a feeling of ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if this worked?!?’ than ‘this is going to work.’ I thought it would be beneficial to my overall health, and I think it was, initially. After a while, though, I felt like I was doing more and more to try get pregnant…charting my basal body temperature, using ovulation predictor kits, using castor oil packs to try to get rid of whatever ‘blockage’ the acupuncturist thought I had, taking vitex, and using progesterone cream (I was supposed to add a Chinese herb to the mix, but I couldn’t find it). It started out so simple, but over the past three months, I found I was doing something to increase my chances of getting pregnant every day, and thinking about it more and more. I know that a lot of people dealing with infertility can’t help but think about it every day, but after two and a half years (and many more years, if you count my previous marriage), I felt I had moved past it a little bit – where it wasn’t at least a daily topic of conversation. Acupuncture was initially relaxing, but over time, I felt like the pressure to get pregnant was growing, and the whole experience was becoming something that I hadn’t expected. Looking back, I could have discussed all this with my acupuncturist, but I just felt like she wouldn’t understand. Most people who are getting acupuncture for infertility are desperate to have a child – so why not try some herbs, if they might help? She had a few adult children and several grandchildren, and she said many times that being a parent and grandparent is the best part of her life. I just didn’t think she’d understand that I was feeling overwhelmed by all her suggestions to try to get pregnant.

Last month, I started to wonder…if I was spending all this money and putting in all this effort, were we sure we didn’t want to see an RE? I considered getting a second opinion, and maybe even going through a few cycles of treatment. I found myself thinking that maybe the solution is right around the corner, and we have to just spend a little more time, money, and effort to get there. I felt that familiar anxiety – the fear of regret and giving up too early and knowing that my decisions could lead to a life without children – along with the dread of facing fertility treatments. M had assumed acupuncture was the last thing we would try, and he wasn’t entirely thrilled about the idea of going back to the doctor to try a few medicated cycles. He wasn’t even too keen on getting a second opinion or more testing, since he thought it would be a slippery slope from testing to additional treatment. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do, but it started to occur to me that maybe it was just time to put an end to all of it – and to just move on. But I still wasn’t sure.

I went through all that internal debate about which doctor to see for an annual exam, and whether or not I would also ask for infertility testing (again), and I think that in that process, it became clear to me – I was tired of thinking about infertility, and I was losing the desire to keep trying to have a child. I’d still, of course, love to have a surprise pregnancy, but I’m ready to put the whole trying aspect of it behind me. I’m glad I tried acupuncture, but I think that it’s just time to let it go. It feels like the right decision.

My first step – the one that caused the most anxiety – was breaking up with my acupuncturist. It wasn’t easy…I had to cancel my last appointment because of a work-related conflict, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to go the following week, either – also because of work. I could have gone after that…but deep down, I was sort of dreading it. Some of my issues with my acupuncturist were personal, but most of it had to do with me, and the way I need to handle this process. I really liked my acupuncturist – I just think her expectations were somewhat unrealistic. I think that being infertile and not being able to fix it were foreign concepts to her, and I think she believed to some extent that every woman could have a baby, given enough effort. She never came right out and said it, but I think that’s what she believes. She felt we were seeing progress, and we were, but in my opinion, it was minimal. Maybe if I knew what the problem was, I would feel differently about it. Maybe if she hadn’t become convinced that there was a problem with my uterus – like a fibroid or some malformation – I would have remained hopeful, but I knew that wasn’t the problem, and I started to dread going, because I knew she would want to talk about it.

I initially felt that I just needed a break. I wanted to make plans and enjoy life and not think about whether or not I’m ovulating or how my temps are doing or having an embryo trying to implant or whether castor oil packs will get rid of the cysts or growths my acupuncturist thinks I have and are preventing me from getting pregnant. I had been able living life under the assumption that we would be childfree – and did it happily – so I thought that I just needed to spend some time back in that space.

Now that some time has passed, though, I realize that the reason that breaking up with my acupuncturist and deciding to take a break has been so emotional and anxiety-ridden is that I know it’s a permanent break. I’ll be 37 within a few months, so I’ve felt like we need to do something now, if we’re going to do anything at all. There isn’t time to take a long break and revisit it later. After giving it some thought, I realized that I’m ok with that. I just need to put it behind me and move on. And I am…and I feel like it’s the right decision for us. While this isn’t the outcome I would have liked overall, I honestly feel content with it. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m thankful for that.

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Sometimes, lately, I just feel tired. I’m tired of thinking about trying to have a child, and tired of being hopeful. I’m tired of wondering why I can’t get pregnant, when no one can really figure out why. There are times when I look back on how long I’ve been thinking about trying to have a child, and it just makes me ill. I’ve spent over half my marriage dealing with infertility (although avoiding dealing with it might be more appropriate!), and I spent the majority of my previous marriage dealing with it, too. I talked to a friend of mine on the phone yesterday, and she has two children. One of them is probably 7 or 8 years old, and the other one is 5 or 6. I have a few friends that got married the same year I did (the first time), or the year after. If I didn’t get a divorce, I would be married for 10.5 years now. If I hadn’t been infertile, I would have an 8 year old.

When I see photos of my friends’ children or talk to someone on the phone who had children around that time, I’m just stunned. It’s shocking that so much time has passed – and I can’t believe they have children that are so old. I have a few friends with babies, but most of my friends now have older children. Our lives couldn’t be any different.

Sometimes I wonder if too much time has passed – and if I’m just getting too old. I know a lot of women have children into their 40’s, or at least want to have children into their 40’s, and I’m getting close. In two months, I’ll be 37. It occurred to me recently that maybe there really wasn’t anything wrong with me the first time…maybe it really was my ex husband’s infection that prevented us from getting pregnant. Maybe he was treated for it, and no longer had problems…or, maybe he just got lucky in his second marriage. I did get pregnant once while married to him – even if it was a chemical that lasted only a few days. Considering that the RE at that time said our chances – even with an IUI and Clomid – were less than 5%, it’s pretty incredible that I even had a chemical pregnancy on a natural cycle. So, maybe they were right, and what I’m dealing with now is something completely different. Maybe this time, it is my age.

When I talked to my friend on the phone, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it’s just too late. Maybe for my body, too much time has passed. Maybe we’re too set in our ways – too used to a life without children.

I’ve been getting acupuncture since December 19. It’s been a little over two months – almost two and a half. I have to decide if I want to pay for one more package of treatments, which would last five weeks. I have to skip a week because of work, so at that point, the package of treatments would last until almost the end of April. I will have paid for and received 15 acupuncture treatments, which I think is probably enough. Part of me wants to quit early, and not even bother with this last round, but I think I should see it through. I’m supposed to start taking some Chinese herbs this time to help with liver stagnation – so we’ll see how that goes.

I finally picked a doctor for an annual exam, and I’m thinking she’ll also be able to check to see why I had that strange mid-cycle bleeding a few months ago and why I’m having some strange and intermittent abdominal pains. I went with a gynecologist – who does not provide obstetric services. I decided that it wasn’t really necessary to go to an ob/gyn – I’m not pregnant, and it’s the ob part of the ob/gyn that causes all those late appointments. It’s hard to sit in waiting rooms full of pregnant women, and half the time, because I’m actually not pregnant, I don’t even end up seeing the doctor. I think that at least for now, this will be a good option. I figure that if I want to go for more testing and treatment, I can go to an RE, and if I even do become pregnant, I’ll go to an ob/gyn. I really debated about seeing that other doctor I mentioned – the one that had me on hold for 50 minutes trying to make an appointment – but my gut instinct is to go somewhere else. On top of the fact that he’s a man (which I know isn’t a big deal and that other people have had good experiences with – but I can’t help it!), he works in a large practice. Waiting times to see him range from two to four hours, and I’ve been told that the staff will make several attempts to have patients see one of his assistants instead. I normally wouldn’t mind, but if I’m going there to see him, then I want to see him. Another thing that concerns me is that I think he’s very pro-medication. It’s hard for me to describe my fears here, but it’s mainly this: if I’m going to go down the path of medicated cycles, I’d like to see an RE this time. If I’m going to go to an ob/gyn, I don’t want to take medication. I do have some interest in seeing him because I’ve heard that he’s really good at figuring out why people can’t get pregnant, but I just have so many doubts about it. Maybe I’m just worn out.

So for now, I’ll go buy my chinese herbs, keep doing acupuncture, see this gynecologist, and that will be it.

AF arrived sometime in the middle of the night, which is pretty much what I expected. I can’t say I’m overly affected by it, because really, after 2.5 years, I’d have driven myself crazy if I completely fell apart every single time AF arrived (especially since my cycles are so regular – like clockwork!). AF’s arrival always comes with a shot of ¬†realism, though — how much longer am I going to keep hoping? Am I just throwing money out the window by going to acupuncture?

I realize my thoughts have been like a pendulum lately. Yesterday, I was going to continue with acupuncture for another two months, and today, I’m back to being unsure.

There have been benefits from going. Up until this week, when the amount of money I was spending on acupuncture started to get to me (partially because I have had some unexpected expenses this month that have made it so much harder to afford!), I did feel really relaxed – all the time. I’m also ovulating earlier in my cycle, and my lp is now 13-14 days, which are both good things. On one hand, continuing acupuncture treatments could result in further improvements…but on the other, is it really going to matter?

I don’t have to decide today, or even this week, so I guess I’ll see how I feel when the time comes.

For whatever reason, I’m feeling better today. I think that AF is on its way, but I’m happy that cycle appears to be again reflecting the benefits of acupuncture. I’m 13 dpo today, and while I can tell AF is coming, today will probably not be the day. So, at a minimum, my lp will probably be 13 or 14 days, which never happened¬†before I started acupuncture. Last month, my lp was 14 days, so maybe this cycle will be the same. My temps are low and a little wacky, but a longer lp is good.

I’ve tried to put this whole doctor appointment thing out of my mind, knowing that the right solution would just come to me. Sometimes I over think things and second guess my decisions, so NOT thinking can help me come to the right conclusion. My inclination from the beginning was to go to a smaller practice with female ob/gyns, so that’s what I’m going to do. I found one that has two doctors – both female – that is accepting new patients. One was listed as one of the best doctors in the area (although there were about 30 to choose from, and I’m not even sure how these conclusions are reached), so I’m going to give this place a try. I’ve decided I’m just going to have an annual exam, but I’ll also mention these ovary pains and the spotting/mid-cycle bleeding I had a few months ago.

Most likely, that’s all I’m going to do. This practice has some info. on their website about infertility testing, and I guess I’ll just see what they say. I don’t know if it’s worth it to repeat any of the tests I had before…it’s been ages since I had a hsg, and while I could repeat it, I’m not exactly dying to. We could repeat all my bloodwork again, but similarly, I’m not sure if there’s much of a point to it. I started thinking that maybe we should try other treatments…that maybe we gave up too quickly…that maybe someone would be able to figure out what’s preventing me from getting pregnant in the first place, and fix it…but really, I want to move on.

I’m going to stick with my original plan. I buy acupuncture treatments in 5-session packages, and because of some scheduling issues, I’ll have to skip a few weeks this month and won’t buy my next package until the end of March. Those five sessions will bring me to the end of April, and at that point, I’ll have been getting acupuncture for 4-4.5 months. I had planned to do it for three months and then reevaluate, but I’ll do the fourth month, since I have to skip a few weeks of treatments in between. Besides, I’ll have paid for it three times, which is what I had planned on initially. More than likely, that will be the end of the road.

I’ll get my annual exam (calling today for an appointment), give acupuncture a little more time, and if I’m still not pregnant, I think that will be the end of the road for us. And hopefully, I can just put it behind me.

History

2014
May: BFP for baby #2, due January 2015

2013
July: Our daughter is born!

2012
November: Still pregnant. Fingers crossed! EDD 7/5/13
October: retrieval 10/12; 5dt 10/17; BFP!!! 10/25-hcg=70; 10/29-hcg=391
September-October: IVF, microdose lupron flare protocol
June-July-August: approved! dealing with scheduling issues and most likely starting IVF in September
May: waiting for insurance approval to start treatment
April: laparoscopic surgery to remove endometrioma on left ovary; diagnosed with stage 3 endo
March: RE finds cyst - suspects endometrioma; also high FSH, low AMH
February: consult with RE; bloodwork, hsg

2011
January-February: Acupuncture once per week, vitex and natural progesterone after ovulation; back to charting bbt
March-April: end of ttc
May:diagnosed with severe cervical dysplasia (CIN III)
July-August: L.E.E.P. procedure and recovery

2010
December: Start acupuncture
May-November: Not actively trying/on a break/enjoying life
April: Not actively trying, still waiting for insurance coverage for injectables
January-March: still waiting to start injectables

2009
December 09-March 10: On a break while waiting to start injectables
November 2009: 50 mg Clomid CD 5-9; BFN
October 2009: All tests normal; Take 50 mg Clomid CD 5-9; BFN
July 2009: Ob/gyn asks for bbt chart, S/A, CD3 b/w; plan tbd.
April/May 2009: Switch from OPKs to the Clearblue Fertility Monitor
March/April 2009: Start using OPKs and bbt

2007-2008
Sept/Oct 2008: Stop preventing; 'if it happens, it happens'
Summer 2008: Stop BCPs; using bbt chart to prevent pregnancy
May 2007: Married again! husband #2; no plans for children

Previous Life
Fall 2005: Divorced
Summer 2005: See RE; more b/w, clomid challenge test, sonohysterogram; 2 Clomid IUI cycles - BFN; male factor discovered (he now has a child with wife #2)
Spring 2003: See ob/gyn for IF, get b/w and HSG; All results normal; Husband #1 gets S/A, which he says is normal; results never sent to ob/gyn
Spring 2002: Stop BCPs, begin ttc and charting bbt
Oct 2000: Married to husband #1