The Infertility Support Group for Moms

I’ve been attending an infertility support group since last spring and every woman there has kids.

It’s such a contradiction in terms that I’ve decided to leave the group.

Here’s how it started: Last May-ish I was googling IF support groups and found a newly-formed group near me that meets twice a month. I was stoked because the other (legitimate) IF support group “near” me is like 20+ miles away and just… no. I’m not making that drive, not gonna happen. So I started attending this new, closer, unofficial group.

I say ‘unofficial’ because the group isn’t on resolve.  It was started by three women who attend the same church and all discovered, simultaneously, last Mother’s Day that they each suffer/suffered from infertility. So they banded together and decided to form a support group.

There’s no format or goal or anything to the group: basically, we just meet at Starbucks or a bar or some random place and hang out. Although guideline-less, I still appreciated the heart behind the women who formed the group. The group is open to the public, but I’ve slowly come to learn that no one else in the public, except me, stuck around very long.

Here’s the problem (aside from the fact that they’re all mamas): the three core group members all knew each other beforehand, whereas I just met them. So right out the gate I’m the outsider, and I’ve sometimes felt like one, too. Of those three women: #1 has adopted two bio siblings and is also currently fostering-to-adopt a third baby; #2 also adopted two bio siblings, then went on to not only have her own baby, but also was a surrogate for her sister and essentially birthed her own niece; and #3 is currently pregnant with her third (bio) baby.

Yeah. It’s like that.

Meanwhile, I’m at group like, “My dog is pretty awesome!” (which, incidentally, he totally is), while they almost constantly talk about their kids. It’s unsettling for me, and lately I’ve been wondering why I even go to group at all. It’s not like there’s much—if any—actual infertility support happening in this infertility “support” group. I usually leave feeling worse and more even infertile than I did when I arrived.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Marixsa, no blog post needed: just leave already!” And you’d be correct. The only reason I’ve stayed with the group is because there’s not another group near me.  But at this point, I kind of think that no group is better than this group.

It’s not that the ladies are mean or are purposefully overindulging in kid talk in front of me (I hope). They often encourage fostering and/or adopting to me and will listen if I speak up about my struggles. But foster/adopt isn’t something Jake and I feel any proclivity toward. Nor is it a fix.

And I get that: the fact that most of the group has resolved via adoption doesn’t change their struggles with infertility. Adoption didn’t fix or cure their infertility, nor did it take away the pain of their miscarriages, etc. (really, the group should advertise itself as some kind of quasi infertility-post-adoption meeting). However, their void of being non-mamas has now been filled.

But for me, the non-mama void is still ever-present. And I’m trying so hard to move past that void, but moving “past” it is hard. Nor is moving past it linear. The road is fraught with uncertainty—and that, right there, is not only where I need an infertility support group but where I could likewise offer some [fumbled] version of support to another person. Problem is, there’s no one in group for me to offer it to.

Just as I’ve learned to disregard when people aphorize “Never give up!” when referencing infertility, I’m also learning that quitting support might just me the best support I can offer to myself.

Today I sent a text to the group leader telling her a (gentler version) of this post. I feel a bit of loss for leaving, but overall I know it’s for the best.

 

***UPDATE:**** Right before publishing this post, I checked resolve’s website, aaaand guess what? There is a BRAND NEW infertility support group that meets 10 minutes from my new home! They’re meeting next in two weeks’ time, so please say a prayer for me that this group will be better than ^^.  I love when God meets a need and opens a new door.

Twentieth Time’s The Charm?

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Last week I visited a new gyno. She was, no exaggeration, probably the twentieth OB/GYN I’ve tried out in the past 22 years. She was absolutely lovely and I think I may have finally found a good doctor for my care! I left her office breathing a massive sigh of relief that maybe—just maybe—my search is finally over.

I have always had a realllllly hard time connecting with a gyno who I’ve felt was right for me. Sometimes I’ve wondered if the problem is me, and not that most gynos are inept at actually helping to FIX my lady-parts problems. But after having connecting with fellow Endo Warriors online over the years, I’ve learned that—amid the rare exception—most gynos really are just.that.bad when it comes to women with endo + infertility + unexplained pain. Most of them don’t want to investigate finding the answers: they usually recommend hysterectomy or that I see yet another RE, then instruct me to return in a year for my annual exam. Can anyone else relate to this?

There was that one time, nearly a decade ago, when I finally found The One of all gynos thus-far. But then I moved a thousand miles away from him, and had to restart the uphill process of finding a new match. In the seven years since moving away from The One, I’ve left every new-gyno appointment feeling unheard, feeling unhelped, and feeling defeated. Oh yeah: and usually in tears.

Such was the case last summer after leaving gyno # 19’s office. Upon a friend’s advice, I had visited this particular gyno and had my annual exam. As I exited his office—holding back tears of frustration and feeling totally defeated—I passed by a sign for the office of a female gyno practitioner named Dr. Ruby* who specializes in “natural women’s care.” I’d never heard of her before.

Intrigued, I researched Dr. Ruby and, to my delighted surprise, liked what I saw. It took me months to make an appointment with her though: visiting a new gyno is fun like walking on hot coals is fun, amiright? Finally, following my newest (and ongoing…) bout of mystery pelvic pain in mid-January, Jake prompted me to make an appointment with Dr. Ruby.

Dr. Ruby is different from any gyno I’ve ever treated with. She unashamedly incorporates her Christian faith into her practice of medicine, and, since she runs her own practice, no one can tell her not to. Never before has a doctor—especially a gyno—told me emphatically that my miscarried babies and failed-to-survive embryos were souls created in the image of God, not just blobs of cells. Never before has a doctor suggested I honor the anniversaries of their passings, and to always answer that I am a mama when someone asks me The Question (though I’m still kind of uncomfortable doing that TBH). It was refreshing, and I just may have cried a little lot when she said those things to me. 

Dr. Ruby was compassionate, listened to my issues, and took time to get to know me as a person before seeing me as merely another patient in her busy day. Basically, I felt heard. Humanized. Not hopeless, but encouraged.

I’m currently working with Dr. Ruby to figure out the source of my new mystery pains. She suspects I had a cyst (or cysts, plural) burst, and that the fluid/blood from it/them is pooling in my lower pelvic area, causing me this new pain. I should know more answers next week after ultrasound. She didn’t push me toward hysterectomy, which is a first for me when visiting the gyno. She also encouraged me to keep TTC. I didn’t discuss with her that I’m letting that part of my life go, because that’s just way too complicated to explain…

Here’s to hoping Dr. Ruby is The One!

 

*pseudonym

 

2020 So Far: A New Direction

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Courtesy of Pixabay

For months now, I’ve intended on joining the army of bloggers who faithfully post each week. It was even one of my 2020 resolutions!  But, one month into the new year, I haven’t been able to make it happen.

Until this week.

That’s my goal this year: to post weekly.

My blog has been dying a slow death the past couple of years, despite my earnest intentions to keep it updated. I’ve never been a huge social media poster to begin with (though I do stalk it on the regular). This blog feels different than social media in a way, but I’m not sure if it is indeed different. Throughout the course of my days something will often happen that causes me to think, “I should blog about that!”… but then I never do. Maybe it’s the effort required, since I’m not quickly posting a pic with a cute caption and moving along like most social media. Blogs take more thought, more intention, more planning. More work.

Through a long—and still continuing—process, I have moved on from the Trying to Conceive world to the Childless Not by Choice world. I’m still new to CNBC, and don’t yet have both feet firmly planted in it because I harbor some reluctance to completely let go of TTC. Is that due to stubbornness? Fear? Worry that I’ve given up too soon? Maybe it’s all three.  From what I can tell so far, the TTC world is a kind of subset of the general (fertile-aged) society. The CNBC world is a subset of that subset, and its defining lines are very blurry.

Since all of that is going on in my life, I’ll be making some changes to this blog in the coming months. So stay tuned! Among other things, I want to move to a new paid URL without losing content or subscribers, and also change the blog’s name. I plan to do more posting on exploring life CNBC and less with TTC, if anything at all. As for endometriosis, well I think I’ll always be blogging about that, because it’s the foundation of how I landed here in the first place! I do have a few upcoming posts in mind, so please, everyone, hold me to it to post weekly.

Until next time,

Peace. ❤

So Long, Farewell, I’m Thrilled to Say Goodbye (to 2019).

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It is currently evening on New Year’s Eve, and as I schlep sit here on the couch in my comfy clothes with a nice glass of red and Puppy by my side (can you say ‘party animal’?!), I can’t help but feel extremely grateful to be seeing the tail end of 2019.

Although I’m not usually one to classify an entire year as being either all-good or all-bad, I must say that the vast majority of 2019 has consisted of the latter. Hence, a big portion of my blogging absence this year, a problem which I plan to remedy in 2020.

For starters, I hope to take this blog in a new direction in the coming year, including moving it to a different URL. While it may have started nearly five years ago (what?! *gulp*) as an infertility blog, I feel strongly that that chapter in my life is closing. However, I still want to blog: about what exactly remains to be seen or to reveal itself.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve become disingenuous on my blog and for that I apologize. Truth be told, the whole infertility aspect of my life has begun to take a major backseat. I still follow other IF bloggers and have made some lovely Instagram friends via infertility and childless-not-by-choice tags, but I feel myself moving away the tenacious grip that failure to procreate has had on me.

One example of this dis-ingenuity? My marriage has had a horrible year in 2019. Like, in-the-gutter-type horrible. I’ll not expound on details here, but it’s been kind of hard to bemoan my childless state in 2019 when, throughout the first three quarters of the year, I worried strongly that I’d even have a husband with whom to try to procreate. Other examples include financial hardships, Jake’s unemployment for the majority of the year, us having purchased what was definitely the wrong home in the end of 2018, and a general loneliness and disconnect that has seemed to plague me for some time now. Oh yes, and that most recent miscarriage in the end of the summer… That was a hurt with which I still haven’t really dealt, as in the scheme of things this years it’s gotten lost in the shuffle. That sounds horrible, but in the name of being honest, let’s call things for what they have been. Sometimes it’s all we can do just to survive.

Lately life has taken turns for the better, albeit in baby steps. The pieces are fitting back together, and I’m trying very hard to be patient in that because I know no one’s life pieces ever fit perfectly.

Now, with all that depressing business out of the way, I have big plans for 2020! Although it’s a sure bet that I won’t be reinventing myself in the span of the next six hours and emerging as an entirely different person, I am gratefully anticipating the new year and new decade. Change—even the prospect of it—can be so refreshing.

For all those reading this who may have also had a difficult year, I emphasize and sit with you in the pain, even if your difficult circumstances were not something I directly experienced. And for those of you reading this who have had an excellent year overall, I pray nothing but the same, and better, for you in the coming year.

Cheers to 2020!

Peace. ❤

 

Reinvigorated

A strange thing has happened: after our most recent loss, and despite its disappointment, Jake has been the one to step up the game of what seemed to be our rapidly-ending TTC sojourn.

Throughout all these years of TTC Jake has, of course, also wanted for us to have a child.  He was a good sport, too: he was game about letting me change his shaving cream, deodorant, shampoo because of scary chemicals; he stopped putting the laptop directly on his lap and thereby causing his swimmers harm; he never gave me a hard time about spending a small fortune replacing every “unhealthy” item in our home with its TTC-friendly counterpart (of which there were many).  He often accompanied me to doctor’s appointments.  He administered all my IVF medications (perk of having a husband who’s also a nurse!).  He was there for me emotionally throughout everything.  Despite all of these things though, I still felt like something was missing on his end.

Throughout our sojourn, I’ve always sensed a slight distance from Jake about TTC stuff.  I don’t mean he was outright disinterested—more like the heavy lifting was up to me.  I didn’t resent him this, but I did feel a bit lonely in my TTC endeavor.  Sometimes I felt as if Jake was just humoring me by going along with my ideas/requests/suggestions (okay, demands) to improve our chances of conception.  Even after our second and third miscarriages, these nagging feelings lingered.  This past year as I’ve begun embarking on the process of accepting childlessness, Jake didn’t resist as much as I’d (secretly) hoped he would.

But now Jake is different.  Our most recent loss seems to have reinvigorated (or just straight up truly invigorated for the first time?) his desire to have a baby.  He has a newfound pep in his step about TTC. Example: the other day, I found him reading my copy of It Starts With The Egg.   He was all excited to add some new supplements to his diet to help with conception (his idea).  He wants us to buy a bigger house so we have room for a child.  Stuff like that.

I’m not complaining!  Not in the least.  I’m happily surprised by his change in perspective—I wasn’t expecting it.  Even though it didn’t last, Jake has been encouraged by the fact that I got pregnant all on my own last month… well, not all on my own ha!  That’s the first time a pregnancy has happened naturally for us since our first loss way back in 2002.  Seventeen years is a very long time to not get pregnant.  Not that we tried all seventeen of them…  But I digress.

Despite my inching toward accepting life as CNBC, Jake’s newfound enthusiasm is rubbing off on me.  I feel sad, yes, that we have experienced another loss, another “no,” another failure.  It hurts and isn’t fair and all that stuff.  And I’m still sticking my toes into the water of accepting life CNBC—that hasn’t magically ended because of a few weeks’ of his attitude change.  At the same time, I don’t feel nearly as alone in TTC as I’ve felt for a long time now.  Having a partner who’s equally (or more so!) invested makes a big difference in my level of determination and outlook.

I’ve made it no secret on this blog that my determination for TTC has been majorly on the decline for awhile now; as in, declining to the point of near-nonexistence.  But now, a glimmer.  A ray of sunlight in the storm.  A reinvigorated approach.  I thank God.

Miscarriage # 4

Well, I was wrong in my last post.  I was indeed pregnant after all.  I feel very foolish.  Early this morning I miscarried.

It was bad. I’d forgotten (which is probably a good thing…) just how physically painful miscarriage is.  Even the “chemical” miscarriages, a/k/a early losses.

I’m kind of stunned and in a weird place right now.  The fact that Jake and I got pregnant at all without intervention is pretty amazing.  But, still.  The ending doesn’t feel as incredible as the knowledge that we actually conceived.

Maybe I’ll write more about it later.  For now, I took a sick day from work and am staying in bed to ride this thing out.

Could be that we’re both just in shock.

Surreal.

Life Update

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It’s been five months since my last post.  I’ve been meaning to post here but, life.  Today I brushed the dust off this site and realized, “Crap! Almost half a year’s gone by!”  I may have broken a personal (non)blogging record by waiting so long.

Anyway, quickie update. I’m just gonna post the highlights, forget about editing it (I agonize over editing and end up erasing much of what I’d written), and go about my day.


Here’s the highlights:

TTC:  My eight-year foray into TTC Land is drawing to a painfully slow crawl.  For instance, I have become completely unreliable about using my fertility monitor and OPKs—some months I do, other months it feels like an exercise in futility.  I haven’t BBT temped in one year now and have no plans to return, either.

I sought out a new doc earlier this summer about my intermesntrual bleeding, ongoing ovary pain, ongoing infertility, blah blah blah.  As per usual, he was utterly unhelpful.  At the end of the appointment, he said, “I’ll see you next year.  Unless you get pregnant—then call me.”  I wanted to smack him.  I left the appointment feeling all of the usual deflated frustration that accompanies each fruitless medical visit I’ve been to.  I won’t be calling him again.  Ever.

Pregnancy: Today my period is four days late.  Maybe that has something to do with suddenly inspiring me to update here, some subconscious reaction?  Don’t get excited, people: I actually (foolishly?) took a pregnancy test this morning, which is something I never do.  It was just the one line.  I sat there on the toilet seat at 5:00 a.m. holding that single-lined sucker up to the light at every.possible.angle, but still it remained negative.  And the couple of times I fished the used test from the trashcan (because we all do that, no?) it was just as negative as the first time.

Today I’m reminded of why I never take HPTs and hate them so very, very much—I really dislike the feeling associated with negative pregnancy tests.  A lot.  It brings back some bad crap.   At least a period saves me from the feelings that HPTs arouse.

Why is my period four days late?  Who knows!  My cycles are normally predictable and regular to a fault.  Just one of those months, maybe?  Or maybe I’m getting near menopause?  Sometimes I think that might not be all bad…

 

Surgery:  I have decided not to plan any more surgeries for the time being.  I can’t seem to find a doctor worth his or her salt, so all future surgeries are on halt.  Also, I’m tired of having surgeries.  It seems that surgery has never done anything to alleviate my endometriosis symptoms, so why bother having it done?

 

Boobs:  This morning I had my third mammogram and boob ultrasound!  I woke up last Thanksgiving to horrific one-sided breast pain and it never left since.  I’ve had a slew of mammos and u/s since that time, and but all the docs ever find wrong with my mammaries are benign cysts.   Lots and lots and lots of benign cysts—seven at last count just in one boob alone! Two of them look “complex,” so the docs monitor me every six months to keep an eye on them.  The docs tells me that the cysts are most likely inflamed, which probably accounts for the pain.

It goes without saying that I am grateful for this report.  “Only” boob cysts are good(ish) news!  At the same time, it’s also extremely frustrating, because breast cysts are so random and elusive: No one seems to know why they happen, when they happen, why they only happen to some women, why they sometimes hurt and sometimes don’t, why they get inflamed, and whether they will go away and/or come back.

The doc offered to aspirate the cysts at my next follow up, which is basically all they can do for breast cysts.  Aspiration does nothing to prevent the cysts from returning/filling back up with fluid.  I think I’ll pass on that one.

Also, side note: boob smooshing hurts.   So does cyst smooshing.  Being a woman is often a painful endeavor.

Childlessness:  The doozy of all updates!  Jake and I are hanging out in some kind of no-man’s land of fertility.  Most months, we try for a baby; each month, we fail.  But it’s become a kind of “expected” fail.  Don’t get me wrong, the accompanying disappointment of failure is always real each month, but it’s briefer and less intense.

We are moving on in our own way and accepting our life as Childless Not By Choice.  It’s not all bad.  I’ve been reading books on the subject, which definitely help me to feel less alone.


Whelp, that about does it.  This is perhaps one of my most boring posts to date, so kudos to you if you’re still here reading it!  I’ll try not to let another five months slip by before updating again.

Peace.