Breaking Free

I’ve spent the last two and a half years being fucking scared of someone asking how I am.

I’ve moved around a bit and have an interesting relationship with my family, so it’s not as hard to avoid that question as you might think.  You hear the phrase often but frequently it is used in a way that means “hi”, and the asker doesn’t actually expect a response.  I don’t have people in my life to ask me that question for real anymore.

Some of that is not my fault, I seem to have friends that see me as a leader, so they don’t seek me out to check on my wellbeing.  But some of it is my fault.

I’ve pulled away from everybody.  I don’t know what to say and so I’d rather not say anything at all.  I’m not a talker, I’m a deep thinker and reflector, but by not sharing I isolate myself.

My situation is difficult in multiple ways.  Some people get part of it, but mix it all together and its a bit overwhelming. Trust me, I know.  I know I’m unlikely to receive understanding so I don’t start.

In our household we deal with infertility and mental illness, both diseases I find to be at the top of the list of “I will have empathy for you as long as it doesn’t become uncomfortable for me”.

But I’m sick of being stuck in this box.

This box where I can’t talk about the things weighing on my mind. Where I can’t tell anyone that today was a hard day and share some of that burden. Where I can’t find support either emotionally or physically. Where being vulnerable is off the cards because it might make someone think that I’m weak.

I’m allowed to be weak. I’m allowed to need picking up once in a while.  I’m allowed to interrupt people’s lives and I’m allowed to expect to have friendships where sometimes I need to be carried and refilled.

I’m allowed to tell the world who I am and what I feel.

I’m so tired of hiding, waiting for the day things get better. Life can’t improve if I dont take risks, life can’t change if I’m stuck in a cycle of wishing someone would ask me how I am, but being too scared to tell the truth.

I owe it to myself, and I owe it to everyone else who is hiding.

I don’t want to be scared anymore.

Subconscious Messages

I’ll admit that I got my hopes up this month.

It doesn’t happen often, the strange, unexplained symptoms I have always show up on day 21, just in time to thwart any potential implantation. This cycle it came and went, and I wondered if something was different this time.

Is my body finally starting to play ball?

Then I had a dream.

———————————————————-

In my dream, my husband found three pregnancy tests, all showing positive. But all were negative, I knew it; all were evaporation lines. My husband didn’t believe me and so I tried to convince him.

“I’m not pregnant, I’m not. I promise I’m not pregnant. I’m not pregnant, I’m not pregnant. Please don’t get your hopes up, I’m not pregnant”.

I had been to the hospital for something else and to make sure, they had done an ultrasound. I showed him the picture, my empty womb confirming my words.

I’m not pregnant.
———————————

I’m near the end of this cycle, and I’ve come to realise that I ovulated late this month. My cycle has continued along as “normal”, albeit just a few days later than usual.

I’m not pregnant, I know I’m not. I got my hopes up for once, and my subconsious tried to being me back to earth using my dream. Even when I’m sleeping my brain tries to protect me.

I’ve been having a bit of a hard time, with two friends due in the next month or two. These people got pregnant after my baby was due, and almost grown whole babies, while I’m still in the same place as two and a half years ago. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t be happy for them. I cry when I think about accidently running into one of them.

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday… it would have been my first Mother’s Day, but instead it’s my second as a mother with no baby.

——————————————————-

My dream had a second half too.

My husband and I were walking along; him holding that ultrasound picture. That still empty picture.

But he was grasping it, looking at it in wonder… in awe. I couldn’t understand.

And then he turned to me with tears gleaming in his eyes and said,
“I can’t believe we have a picture of where he lived”.

Mumsplaining: Why you’re not always an expert.

ecrd

 

I have a number of friends who are currently pregnant, and it’s really reminded me how infertiles and pregnant women/mothers are looking at things from completely opposite viewpoints. Infertility is so isolating, I don’t feel like I can join in the conversations of my mother friends for fear of getting the old “just you wait….!”, or the few people I have told don’t seem to know how to deal with such an emotive topic and completely ignore what I’m going through.

But while I choose not to participate in parental converstations, I’m a good listener, and I’ve been trying quite hard to keep my eyes from rolling around in my head.

I know mansplaining is a thing, but I think we need to add mumsplaining (or momsplaining) to our dictionaries.  The amount of times mums and mums-to-be think they’re experts and need to explain child bearing to silly little me astounds me.  And I’m talking about women who haven’t even birthed the baby and had to change a nappy yet!

So, my mumsplaining friends, here are some things you aren’t an expert on:

How to get pregnant

Statistics don’t lie, most people will get pregnant in a reasonable time frame providing you’re doing it right.  If you’re one of those people, your advice can get in the sea.

No amount of,

“we did it every second day for a month” or
“I put a pillow under my bum” or
“It took us four months and it was SO HARD, but then I started taking unicorns piss capsules, I totally recommend them!”

is going to make a difference to me.

So you had sex at the right time, hooray for you!  What do you know about the lifecycles of sperm and eggs, or the position of your cervix, or the texture, acidity and use of your cervical mucous?  What do you know about hormones and chemicals and how your brain is connected to egg development? What do you know about having sex at the right time for literally years and what it does to a relationship?

Do you have some advice?  Is it based in science and something my Doctor is unlikely to have told me?  If not, keep it to yourself.

Experience with Medical Professionals

I had a friend try to ‘mumsplain’ a stretch and sweep to me, with added extra emphasis on how AWKWARD it was.   Trust me, I know how it feels to have medical professionals poke around in my business.  Was ‘poke’ an inappropriate word to use?  Good, because that’s how it feels.  It feels like a violation.

Maybe you remember the first time you saw your babies heartbeat?  Maybe you felt excited and nervous when the dildo wand came out and got lubed up.  Last time I had one of those up me it was to confirm a miscarriage, complete with blood.  SUPER AWKWARD HUH? LOL.

Your awkward situations with medical professionals get you one step close to meeting your child, mine get me a big fat bill, some hollow encouraging words and an extra tear in my already broken heart.  It’s not really much of a reward if I’m honest.

Hormones

Anyone remember the lady that used clomid as a defence in court?  I know pregnant women often use the hormones excuse, but maybe don’t use that on somone who has been on fertility drugs.
Every woman I’ve known who has given birth and taken clomid at some point has said pregnancy hormones were a dream in comparison.  And when I refer to clomid as “grumpy pills” to my husband, he smirks a little and keeps his mouth shut.  Men around the world are terrified of women on this drug, it’s not just crying in the supermarket feeling overwhelmed about deciding between carrots and pumpkin.

Clomid is of the devil, and I’m pretty sure your baby isn’t.

And don’t even get me started on the bonus hot flashes!

Pre-baby Lives

I know you’ve done it, admit it, if you’re a parent you’ve scoffed.  Someone has said something about childrearing while not a parent, and you’re ready to tell them why they’re wrong.

I know non-parents have plans and thoughts which may change with experience.  Maybe we don’t get just how hard it is to go to the shops now, what with all the baby paraphernalia and the actual baby.  And maybe we’re so lucky to have all the time and the money and the freedom.

A friend who is about to become a dad tried to dadsplain money and babies to me.  I wonder how much they spent, with their baby furniture and pram bought by family and hand me down clothes and free maternity appointments?  And yet I know a couple who recently spent $15,000 in one month to lose that wee embryo and come away with nothing.  I know what I’d rather spend my (lesser amount of) money on!

Maybe non-parents dreaming about becoming parents are living in la-la land.  Maybe we have it all wrong and we’ll roll our eyes at ourselves one day.

But just give us this.

Infertile or not, give us all the benefit of the doubt.  Infertility changes you, much like someone who has a near death experience might say “I’ll never take another day for granted”.  You don’t tell them that you’ll throw their words back in their face when their car breaks down.  We’re not saying we know the challenges, what we’re saying is, “this has had a profound effect on me, and I’ll never be the same again”.

But, even if you were an infertile (and I may get flamed for this one!), you no longer “get it”.

I know ex infertiles think they get it, but hear me out.

You are Captain Hindsight.  You are looking at infertility as a woman with a happy ending.  You know where your road ends up, you are a mother.  The number of children is irrelevent, and I’m sure it’s pretty awful to not have the family size you imagine if you’re dealing with Secondary Infertility.  But you know you are a mum, you know what it’s like to have a child, you imagine your future and theirs, ending your story being old and grey, your grandchildren or great grandchildren sitting at your feet.

You can’t help it, the journey was worth it for you and you should be happy.  When you got pregnant you moved to the outskirts of the group, and the moment you had your baby your membership was revoked and you joined The Mothers.  Don’t be upset, none of us want to be in this group anyway!

The moment you say “I’m so tired, I wish she would sleep”, you lose me. When you wish for some time to yourself you may as well be from another planet.

And while I said above that you’ll never be the same again, having your baby is also profound.  You might feel different from the other mothers, you might feel more grateful or be more worried; but when your child came into your life, your world shifted again in another permanent way.  In a good way this time.   I’m not saying you can’t offer support, just don’t use your happy ending as hope for anyone but you.

 

 

Not worshiping at the good doctor’s feet.

You Just Leave The Place Now.

 

I’m going to tell you a story. Not all stories are good I’m afraid. You know this, you’re here reading. But I’ve been reading about gender bias in the medical field and I want to share my story.

This involves a Doctor who is an obstetrician and gynaecologist.

A little over a year ago I was chasing my Doctor for blood test results. Specifically, hcg results. I’d had my first blood over a week before which included testing my progestertone as I had been testing low and I knew it could affect early pregnancy. I’d since done a second beta test with no results, the only communication I had was to repeat the beta.

After the second one and feeling frustrated at no results (I knew they’d be in by then), I called to find out what was going on. I did not know if my progesterone was fine and nothing to worry about, nor that status of my pregnancy. He hadn’t looked at it so his receptionist was going to call back the next day.

She didn’t.

I called again the day after, he still hadn’t looked at the piece of paper nearly a week later. He was too busy. But I’d had bleeding and this was my baby we were talking about, so in order to get some news I made an appointment (see $$$$).

When I got in the room, he made a dig about me calling. Twice in two weeks, after I’d had two blood tests. Like I was stupid for wanting an answer. Like I was just a silly little girl, a nagging woman who was hysterical and over the top. Like it wasn’t my right to know what the blood taken from my own body was saying. Like my miracle wasn’t important.

And then he told me I was losing my baby, and how ‘it wasn’t realy what we wanted to happen’, but that he’d suspected as much for TWO WEEKS and didn’t bother telling me.

That was two weeks of fear, of trying to stifle excitement, of coming to some sort of acceptance and even starting to feel brave enough to browse baby gear.  All for no reason.

Every time I saw him last year he made me feel stupid. He ignored my symptoms, he told me “they might not be a problem”, even though that was the whole reason my GP referred me to him in the first place. He’s never told me anything specific, he’s never mentioned a single number to me when looking at results. He’s never asked me specific questions, like the first cycle when I told him I’d ovulated already, and instead of asking how I knew, he disagreed. (FYI, the blood test said yes).

He used words like ‘tummy’ when he spoke to me.

He took hundreds of dollars off me for a prescription I’m not even sure I needed because one cycle when he tested me I didn’t ovulate (which is one of two annovulatory cycles I’ve had since coming off birth control, in the realms of normal). Maybe he’s right, but he wouldn’t listen to anything I said, nor tell me his thought process.

He touched me every time I walked into his office. I mean, of course he has to sometimes and it feels like an intrusion, but I mean as I walked past him into his office, every time. Maybe he thought it was friendly and comforting, but the fact that it sits in my brain means I feel differently.

In other inappropriate behaviour, he records his notes out loud with the door to his waiting room open. He chats to his receptionist about patients, and she asks inappropriate questions (“will we see you back!?”, just after I’d been told I was going to lose my baby… what do you say to that?). He finds it humerous that my husband has a severe anxiety disorder, with a big trigger being anything medical, and that I will not push him to give a sperm sample. Because that’s what I really want, to link anxiety, medical procedures and sexual activity.*

I have not taken the last four rounds of clomid prescribed to me because I don’t think it’s really making much of a difference, and whatever issue I have is unrelated to ovulation. It’s frustrating talking like this after so long, in general broad terms.  I’m not unexplained but I have no explanation. I have a group of symptoms that he basically didn’t even ask me any questions about.

I am wounded by this. It took me a full year after the miscarriage episode to realise how angry I am about how I was treated, and to understand why I would come home and cry after every appointment with him. Every time I saw him, he took my confidence, he took my sense of knowing myself by undermining what I told him. I know what I know about myself, I am an expert on my body and it’s happenings, and every time I tried to bring up my concerns he made me feel like I was some pathetic creature who should just worship at his all knowing feet.

When I got home after the last time I saw him, I got mad at the stupidist thing. I was stomping around and huffing and sighing when my husband pulled me into his arms. The tears came out of nowhere, and I told him that with every appointment it seemed like having a family was slipping further and further away. There was never a plan or a direction, the last two visits were basically him printing out a prescription and telling me he wasn’t interested.

This is why I can’t go back there, and when I have the money to start from scratch again, I’ll be looking for a female doctor. I need to feel safe, I need to feel listened to. I need someone to understand that I may not fit into a box and to work with me on that.

I need to feel like I am not a pay cheque, and that I am valuable and have knowledge. I need to not be talked down to and I need to be informed.

I need to feel like I have control of my body and my choices.

I need to feel like I have a chance.

 

*I know this is an important step, but I obviously have something wrong with me. If I was good as gold and we still weren’t getting anywhere, perhaps I’d get into this more. But at this stage, we know I need some fixing. Even if my husband had a low count (and bear in mind his sperm has done their job once, kind of), I would not be open to IUI or IVF with my current symptoms as I believe it would just be a waste. Aside from that, my husbands anxiety would definitely make it impossible for him to give a sample AT a clinic which basically rules us out of going down this route.

 

A new year – 2016

Wow, 2015 sped by.

I feel like I’m being fairly accurate in saying that 2015 kicked my butt.  A pregnancy in January (“wow, this might be our year!”), following by a crushing miscarriage meant the year started with a great emotional roller coaster and continued that way.

It was a year of hope with starting clomid, grief, anger and sadness.  It ended with the last week of 2015 finding out that two of my childhood friends (sisters) were pregnant.

With the first, I figured it out and coped well.  The second told me nicely privately via Facebook and I cried.  My heart has never pounded so hard.  We have been trying as long as her first child has been on this earth, and now she’s on her second. 

I thought I got through last year reasonably well mentally, but with the new year starting and some time to reflect, I realise I’m really struggling underneath.

I thought I was otherwise happy, but I’m not sure if I remember how to be.  I can’t remember what life was like without this constant infertility highlights reel playing in my mind.  It’s only one of the pretty big challenges I’m facing and none of them look to have any resolution.

I feel hopeless.  I really feel like I will fall apart if another year passes like this.

But I am so scared.  I need to find another doctor but it also feels like this is our last chance. My last doctor made the whole process so much worse (yes, good old 2015 strikes again!), but what if I find a new one and I still don’t get any answers?  Where will I find the money for this?  What if 2016 brings finality, but not in a good way?  

What if things don’t get better?