2017: Please Be Kind to Me

2016 was a personal worst year ever. I lost a good friend to suicide just a couple days before I learned we would lose our baby girl. It doesn’t matter that plenty of good things happened in 2016. I won’t remember them. I already don’t remember them.

2017 was supposed to be the year we completed our family.

2017 is the year I turn 40 – the age at which my husband and I decided long ago would mark the end of our baby-making journey, whether we had a baby or not.

2017 could still be a good year. Great, even, if I manage to get pregnant. But, I’ll settle for good. It could be good if I:

  • Love myself.
  • Come to terms with all the shit recently bestowed upon me.
  • Take care of myself, physically and emotionally.
  • Remain open to the good that can and will happen.

I guess those are sort of my resolutions, though I’m not typically a resolutions sort of person. These are things I need to do, though. They aren’t really optional, unless I want to have a very bad year.

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Getting Duped By Hope

I know this was only my first full cycle after my loss. I know we didn’t really try to get pregnant. I know it takes time to for one’s cycle to return to “normal” after a loss.

Still, I was devastated to get my period today.

I decided at the start of my cycle to use OPKs to have at least a general idea of what my body was doing or trying to do. I didn’t get a positive until CD 26, and we didn’t have sex until the day after that. Not avoiding trying to get pregnant, but certainly not making a valiant effort. Assuming I ovulated the day after that positive OPK (probably, since I also had fertile cervical fluid at that time), good old Aunt Flow’s arrival today means my luteal phase was a whopping 7 days. Or I didn’t ovulate at all, I suppose. Either way, it’s shit.

I had no right to hope for anything better than that, to be honest. I mean, back when we were TTC the old fashioned way, I always ovulated late-ish, around CD 20. And my LP was only 10 or 11 days long. So, not too far off from this cycle. Expecting my cycle to magically morph into that of a normal fertile person is simply ridiculous. Yet, I think subconsciously maybe I did expect it. Or at least I had hoped for it. You read so many stories about previously infertile women spontaneously conceiving, especially after a loss. Why couldn’t I be one of them? Didn’t I deserve to be one of them? Damn hope, once again reeling me in.

I don’t know where to go next. Maybe I would be happier not testing or tracking my cycle until we decide to really try to get pregnant (as unlikely as it may be). In fact, I know that’s what I should do. I should shut it down and not give it another thought until after the holidays. I should just enjoy Christmas with my family and work on healing my mind and body. Should….

Potty Training

Because life goes on….

Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made in the last 2.25 years, potty training has been one of the most difficult. All around me, parents are talking about “readiness” signs, like hiding to poop (need for privacy), communicating that they need to pee/poop (or already have), ability to take their clothes on and off (pants, at least), and a handful of other signs. When I read these lists, it wasn’t clear to me if my daughter was ready or not, and the last thing I wanted to do was force her to do something before she was ready and forever scar her.

Then I found Oh Crap! Potty Training. Actually, I first heard the author interviewed on my favorite podcast, and I liked what she said. She dismisses the whole idea of “readiness,” pointing out that in her experience, waiting until kids are “ready”(usually around age 3) is too late. For some reason, it becomes harder to teach them how to use the toilet if you wait until you see the typical signs. Instead of “readiness,” she advises to consider whether your child is capable of learning how to use the toilet. There aren’t concrete signs, necessarily; it’s something each parent has to determine on their own. Also, in the author’s experience, age 20-30 months is the prime time to potty train with the greatest success. At 27 months, C was right in the zone.

After listening to the podcast, I bought the book and dove right in. The author outlines her method, which isn’t complicated by any means, but requires determination, focus, and commitment on the part of the parent(s). I decided that (American) Thanksgiving weekend would be the best time to start, since I would have 4 days in a row at home with my daughter. I told her daycare provider, and she agreed that C was more than ready, and wished us luck.

I won’t go into detail (you’re welcome), but I will say that it was very, very intense and exhausting those first few days. The first day is literally watching your pantless child for signs that she needs to pee or is in the process of going, and getting her to the toilet ASAP. You can’t look away for a second! Even though things clicked fairly quickly for C, it was still tiring and disappointing when she didn’t make it in time and I had to clean up yet another mess. But, by the end of that first day, she actually initiated peeing on the toilet herself! It just kept getting better from there. Her first day back at daycare was a disaster, but only because they do things differently there. Now that she has learned the ropes, she stays (mostly) dry all day long. The times she isn’t dry are primarily because the daycare provider couldn’t help her in time, or because…

….Poop. We’re still working on that one, 11 days later. In fact, there’s a whole chapter in the above-mentioned book devoted to the topic and all the ways it can be challenging. For C, it’s a matter of not yet recognizing when it’s coming. I can say we’ve had a few successes, which were celebrated with much fanfare. And there’s a standing promise of candy for each successful poop in the toilet. (The book actually recommends against rewards, but we’re doing it anyway.)

We also have not tackled night training. She discusses it in the book, but we decided to wait on night training until she’s more fully day trained. To be honest, I’m hoping she just learns to either hold it all night, or wake up on her own when she needs to go. (Ha! Famous last words, right?)

I cannot recommend this book enough! If potty training has crossed your mind at all, even if you don’t think you or your child is ready, I suggest reading this book now. At the very least, check out the podcast interview with the author, or read her blog. It gave me the confidence to say with certainty that my daughter was capable of learning, along with all the tools I needed to have a successful start. It will be months before I can say she’s fully trained, but at just 11 days into it, she’s already nailed one aspect of it. Also, there’s a Facebook group that goes along with the book, where you can get advice and tips from other parents. I’ve posted there a few times, sometimes just for reassurance, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Oh, I almost forgot, there’s also a YouTube channel.

Note: I was not paid or even asked to write all these positive things about the book. I just loved it that much! 

 

Heavy Heart

heavyheartI’m struggling today. My own grief over our recent loss combined with the grief and fear over the presidential election results are just too much. My heart is just too heavy.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been doing the grief work that I know I need to do in order to heal and move forward. My therapist and I talked about the importance of acknowledging the loss in some way, like a service or ceremony, or some sort of physical memorial, like a tree (or the tattoo I’m planning). She asked if the baby had a name, and I told her no. It’s true – we hadn’t officially decided on anything, though I had pretty much settled on one before we learned of her condition. I hadn’t told my husband, because I was afraid I might change my mind before she was born. I still haven’t told him, but now I think I probably should. I think I would like for her to have a name. And, as much as it hurts, I would like to talk about her more, and giving her a name would help with that.

We haven’t talked about trying again. I’m afraid to open that door, because I have a feeling he will want to slam it closed and weld it shut for good. I keep telling people that we’re not sure if we want to try again, but the truth is that I do want to try. I want to try with our embryos until we don’t have any left. If we don’t, I may grow to resent it. I worry, though, about the strain it may cause. My husband is already working like a maniac to support us. We’re far from poor, but paying for even one more FET would be a stretch. Not to mention the emotional strain. At this moment in time, however, my desire to have another baby is greater than my drive to avoid conflict or discomfort, greater than my fear of having another baby with a neural tube defect.

I used to think people who claimed fear or grief after an election were just being dramatic. I mean, I wasn’t happy when George W. was elected, but I was far from scared or depressed. But this year, I’m among those scared and despondent. Chief among the many reasons for feeling that way is what this means for reproductive rights. It was hard enough for me to get an abortion for medical reasons, I’m legitimately afraid of how much worse things could get not only for people in a similar position, but also for those seeking abortion for any reason. Not only that, I’m dismayed by how many of my loved ones support a president and other elected officials who would take away my right to choose to end my pregnancy. It makes me sick to think that people I love, who are supposed to love me, would force me to carry to term a baby with no chance of living. It hurts. Deeply.

I’m not dealing with all of this emotional turmoil very well. Writing this blog post is the healthiest thing I’ve done in a while. Mostly, I’ve just been eating my feelings, and then feeling terrible for it, and  then eating THOSE feelings. A vicious cycle.

Word Vomit

Excuse me while I vomit words all over this page. As I’m sure you can understand, I just need to get this out. Sorry if it doesn’t make sense.

In addition to the immobilizing grief of losing a baby, I’m experiencing a great deal of resentment and anger about all the different pieces of “fallout” from the loss. For instance:

  • Once again, I have to do the “unfollow” on social media dance. I had just gotten to a point where the infertility thing didn’t hurt so much, and even “fertile” pregnancies didn’t really bother me. I didn’t need to screen my social media accounts for triggering baby-related posts or advertisements, because nothing triggered me anymore.
    • New friends of ours went through IVF at the same time we did. In fact, their transfer was only 10 days after ours. It was her first, and I had helped answer questions for her about medications, and ease her mind about some spotting caused by the progesterone suppositories, and then put her at east again when it was time to stop the progesterone. My husband and her husband talked about the process and their feelings about infertility, which was amazing to me, as my husband doesn’t usually open up about this stuff. Her pregnancy is going well, thankfully, but it’s hard for me. I had to unfollow her on FB, as I just can’t bear to see what we SHOULD be experiencing at the same time. Not only that, I’m not in a position to support her while she navigates pregnancy after infertility. I’m literally the only person she knows who has gone through it, and it makes me feel terrible to just disappear. But I have to protect my heart.
  • Screening e-mail and snail mail, and unsubscribing from all the baby-related crap. I was actually beginning to enjoy some of it. Now I’m once again being triggered by offers for discounted birth announcements.
  • TTC… again… or not? This was supposed to be our second and last child. No more TTC ever again. After our baby was born, the plan was to purge all the maternity stuff from our home, and decide on permanent birth control/endometriosis management for me. Instead, we are faced with 1) deciding IF we will try again, and 2a) if so, HOW will we try – how much effort are we putting into it? OPKs, fertility monitors, supplements/medications, just have sex whenever we feel like it and hope for the best, FET? And for how long? 2b) if not, how do we make peace with that decision? When are we supposed to make these decision?
  • Related to the above, what the hell do we do with all the baby stuff we were getting ready to use again, for the last time? Hide it, so it doesn’t taunt me as we decide whether or not to try again, or while actively TTC? Get rid of it, because we will probably never need to use it? Every time I see a baby toy or bottle or even a nursing pad (for some reason, they are STILL floating around everywhere in my house), I break down in tears.
  • What about our plans to transition our toddler to a new bed and a new bedroom? Do we just abandon that idea, forgetting we ever planned to do it at all? Or do we proceed as planned, though we don’t need to? I literally go back and forth on this one all day long.
  • Now, I know we don’t need to make any decisions about this stuff right now, but the mere fact that we do eventually have to think about this shit is really pissing me off. Because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO FUCKING BE THIS WAY.
  • Therapy. I’m a huge fan. But right now, I’m fucking angry that I need it. I resent that I have to take PTO to go to sessions, that I have to plan it around meetings, so that I don’t walk in late with a tear-streaked face or red, puffy eyes. I know: No one wants to be grieving. Clearly, not a single person chooses this. But, of all the times I’ve grieved, this one seems to be very different in the sense that I’m resentful towards the whole process. I know I need to grieve, I need therapy, but I really hate being here at the start of it all. I hate that I have work through this shit. Does this even make sense to anyone other than me? Basically, I’m complaining about it being a major inconvenience. No shit.
  • Everyone asking me how I’m doing. I can’t tell you how sick I am of that question. I know people mean well by it. I’m glad they ask, even while I rant in my head about how impossible it is to answer that question. It’s not so much the fact that the answer changes from one moment to the next. It’s more the fact that I don’t fucking know in any given moment. I’m functional. I shower, I go to work, I play with my daughter and tend to her needs, I do household chores, I plan for future things. I’m sad most of the time, but I feel happy at times, too. I’m not in a state of constant despair, but I do have moments when I can’t even move from the weight of my grief, or when I need to close my office door so that my colleagues can’t see the tears suddenly welling up in my eyes. So, I guess it’s not the question that bothers me so much as the fact that I don’t know how to answer it.

Shittiest Birthday Ever

Today is my birthday. We lost our baby 553001473-lonely_birthdaytwo weeks ago, so this is pretty much the shittiest birthday ever. Three days ago was the shittiest birthday ever for my husband. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day (my due date was February 11)…. all of the holidays that will soon be upon us will be the shittiest ones we’ve ever had.

The due date for my first ever pregnancy was the day before our wedding anniversary in November, and my miscarriage of that pregnancy was the week before Mother’s Day. So, it’s safe to say that pretty much every holiday, birthday, and anniversary is ruined. Only my daughter’s August birthday is still safe.

I know things will get better over time. The main loss anniversaries will always hurt, and I’m pretty sure Fall is forever ruined for me, but I know I will eventually be able to celebrate my birthday and other holidays free of grief. I know it takes time. But right now, it really sucks.

I’m trying to take grieving one day at a time, but it’s hard not to think about the holidays coming up and how much they are going to suck this year. Next year will be better, I know. As will the year after that. But for next year or so, I’m anticipating lots of awful, sad celebrations.

It’s Not About the Money

It’s not, it’s really not, but when I think about all the money invested in our FET cycle, plus the cost to terminate, I cringe. And it doesn’t help that we received an unexpected bill for $3,085* from the RE for our May FET. (Yeah, the FET that resulted in the baby we just lost.) It’s like being kicked when you’re already down.

I know many people spend tens of thousands of dollars on multiple failed cycles. I know this, and I realize that we are lucky that we technically have not had a failed IVF or FET cycle. But, when I add it all up…. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

$6,145 – prepayment to RE for FET cycle

$2,275  – for medications

$2,060 – additional due to RE for unplanned costs

$1,900 – clinic costs for termination (not covered by insurance)

$2,120 – flight for 2 to the Big City

$217 – 2 nights at a shitty hotel in the Big City

$200 – food and misc. in the Big City

$14,917 total

Ouch. This list doesn’t include travel costs for FET, or fees for local clinic and lab services that I had done during my FET cycle. Nor does it include the wages lost by my husband for all the appointments and days off for travel. (The bulk of his salary is in production – he gets some paid leave, but it’s peanuts compared to what he would actually make if he was working.)

This is why we’re hesitant to do another FET, even though we still have two embryos. It will be at least another $10,000, with no guarantees. We’re not broke, but another FET in the next year or so would be a stretch.

And that makes me angry. I fucking hate infertility, because it doesn’t matter what route to parenthood we choose, it still costs a fucking insane amount of money for us to have even a chance at another child. I hate this for everyone with infertility. I understand that things like IVF and adoption (and all the other options) can’t be free. In fact, I’m happy to compensate people for their professional services. But, shit, when you think of all the money you spend for just the chance, no guarantees…. It’s so unfair.

* I managed to negotiate the bill down to $2,060 by arguing that we shouldn’t have to pay the re-freezing fee due to the clinic’s mistake. I may have also played the “my baby just died” card. But I’m all out of fucks to give.