Five Year Blogoversary Musings

It’s time again for my annual Blogoversary post. Five years have slipped past in the blink of an eye. It’s been my honor since 2015 to share this tiny corner of the interweb with some of the bestest women I’ve had the privilege of “meeting” in the Blog Lands—and in some cases, meeting in real life too!

How to lament this past year since the last Blogoversary? As far as The Endo Zone goes, it’s been my quietest year yet for publishing posts. Real Life got in the way, and more pressing matters unfortunately took my attention from posting. But in 2020 I’ve made a decision to post here more often, and I’m trying to make good with that commitment as best I can. Already in less than three months I’ve nearly reached my total posts from last year! My aim is to move this space away from strictly endometriosis and/or infertility as cause/effect; I’ve still been brainstorming names for a new blog but haven’t found one yet that speaks to me.

Much has changed since the Endo Zone was born five years ago, the most significant (and surprising) of which has been Jake and my decision to resolve Childless Not By Choice (CNBC). If you’ve been around here for even a little while, you’ll know that CNBC wasn’t a one-time choice which Jake and I made and then moved on from. Instead, resolving without a child still sometimes rears its head and causes us uncertainty. It’s definitely not a linear course. This is a space to write about that.

A heartfelt Thank You to everyone who’s been at this site since the beginning, and Welcome to all those who’ve joined since! I have slightly more than 200 followers and I’m grateful for every one of you.

Last, a giant frowny face to WordPress for needlessly revamping the editor and making it even harder to use than usual; writing this post was no easy feat with the new settings!

Links below to previous Blogoversary Musings:

Year Two: 2017 Blogoversary Musings

Year Three: 2018 Blogoversary Musings

Year Four: 2019 Blogoversary Musings

The Weird New Normal and Other Updates

We’ve been on lockdown here in Philly for three days now. In the two weeks preceding that, all of the usual hysteria that’s been experienced around the globe due to COVID-19 happened here as well.  Like countless others, I’ve been working from home and regarding every person I encounter with a level of suspicion and a very wide berth (six feet, to be precise). Even though I’m not usually one to ‘document’ my life online, I’m making an exception with this post.

Today I had a tele-medicine appointment with Dr. Ruby. It was my first time meeting with a doctor electronically. I’m so thankful that God has provided humans with the know-how to create technology such as tele-medicine so that such things are even possible. Anyway, I’d contacted Dr. Ruby because I got my period 13 days ago and it still hasn’t stopped. I’ve been getting kinda worried (and inconvenienced) by the constant bleeding. Dr. Ruby believes my never-ending period is related to a new thyroid medication my endocrinologist prescribed me last month. I was prescribed this medication in an attempt to corral my uncontrolled Hashimotos.  I’ll update if the plan Dr Ruby suggested today actually works. I pray that it does.

As for whether the meds worked to control my thyroid, well I’m far too wary of going to LabCorp to have blood work done to find out. Jake is a nurse and works primarily with geriatric patients.  I can’t take any risks, such as going to the lab, which could potentially endanger him and his very vulnerable patients, unless absolutely necessary. In the scheme of things, my thyroid function is apples to the oranges that is coronavirus. So for now I’ll stay put and just have to trust that my new thyroid medication is doing what it’s supposed to do. Lord willing, I can find out later whether it actually did!

I’m just gonna pause here and lament that these are such weird times we suddenly find ourselves thrust into living in: today I met with my doctor via FaceTime. Tonight my infertility support group is meeting on Zoom. Tomorrow my bimonthly counseling appointment is being held via Skype. Last Sunday we “went” to church in our living room, also via Zoom. People keep throwing the word around, but it is unprecedented indeed.

As I continued to follow my fellow CNBC friends on Instagram, I feel a bit of relief that I’m not the only one who is oddly grateful to not have children at this moment in history. My family and friends with very young children incur the added difficulty of being cooped up together 24/7 while still having to provide entertainment, schooling, discipline, etc. around the clock. This all while trying to be “at work” at the same time… That’s been tough for some of my friends and family members. While I can’t emphasize, I can certainly sympathize with that situation being a really hard, frustrating, and map-less lifestyle.

And I’m a bit ashamed at those in the infertility community who are giving parents flack for ‘complaining’ for it being difficult to have their kids home right now. Parenting is hard stuff; parenting when you’re kids are 100% always home with no means of escape must be extra, extra hard stuff. When did it become martial law that, post-infertility, no one may ever complain about kids being tough to raise? Anyway, I am just grateful for my quiet home. As an introvert, staying home doesn’t bother me in the least; I actually prefer being home.  Jake is at work a lot because nurses are needed right now, so I find myself home alone often which can be kinda lonely, but overall I’m good with it.

I’ve set up my office in a separate space in the house, which helps to differentiate being ‘at home’ verses being ‘at work.’ Since my employer is deemed a ‘life-sustaining’ / vital function, I am still blessed to have a job, unlike many of my colleagues who’ve unfortunately been laid off this week. Boss has been understanding about my reluctance to return to our physical office next week, as he plans to do. For the foreseeable future, I’ll keep working remotely, even if Boss isn’t thrilled about it. We’ll manage.

Home is now also my new gym! It’s been a huge adjustment. I’m one of those people who goes to the gym at 6:30 every morning like clockwork. Suddenly life in that respect has been turned upside down! I tore my plantar fascia (ouch. like so much ouch I can’t even begin to say…), so running—which I love to do—is out of the question for the next twelve weeks. For the duration, I am wearing a really sexy gigantic walking boot while I heal, and modifying YouTube videos in my basement workout space so I don’t turn into a ball of fatty mush. Those workouts, coupled with taking Puppy on like 8,000 walks a day, is my new fitness regime.

And hey—if you’ve read this far, then kudos to you! This has been one of my most ramble-esque blog posts ever. Blame it on being cooped up and restless. I hope all of you are staying healthy and #covidfree. Know that you, all my (in)fertility friends, remain in my prayers.

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. ❤

 

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.

Upcoming Surgery #6

Hello, all—if anyone’s still out there! My blogging has been slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y crawling toward the point of nonexistence, and I’m so sorry for being such a terrible blogger! But, life happens.

Alas, here I am. Still sometimes blogging and always still walking among the infertility trenches. But I’m beginning to climb out: I see a definite end in sight—even if that end involves bidding adieu my unproductive reproductive parts.

Blogging

In big news, part of my blogging absence is because Jake and I bought a house! Long story short, we bought  a townhouse, moved to the burbs, and are currently adjusting to the massive shock of our lives being completely uprooted.

The other reason for my blogging absence is because fertility/infertility hasn’t been much on my radar. For awhile I believe infertility became an idol in my life. It was all-consuming. As time passes, it slips further and further down my Top Ten list. Lately, at best I’m halfway interested in infertility’s role in my life. Mostly, I’m trying to move away from it, rather than digging in deeper. I want to move on.

Endometriosis Surgery

Back in October while scouring the internet for an endo specialist, I found a contender, right in my own backyard! Jake and I had a surgery consult with the doc, Dr. Lee, last week. Dr. Lee is an endometriosis wizard (wizardess?) and I think I’ll be in good hands with her for an excision surgery. She’s head of gynecology at a hospital in the city and know a lot about endo. Despite that her beside manner struck me as clinical and slightly cold, I still liked her because she plans to do a thorough endo cleanup on me.

Dr. Lee’s surgical plan is more involved than my last cleanup. Because I had a partial bowel resection during one of my prior endo surgeries, I have to meet with a colo-rectal surgeon. A pre-op bowel prep will also be involved (yech). Next week I’m having a pre-op pelvic MRI, which Dr. Lee also ordered. Then some other x-ray or specialist or… something… is involved. I basically forgot at this point what she was saying. I got hung up on the whole, “It’ll be a big surgery” part, and the rest was kind of a haze. There’s also a good chance I’ll spend a night or two in the hospital if my colon is involved again.

Surgery will be excision of endometriosis, removal of adhesions and any cysts, and cauterizing my cervix (again…) to try stopping its endless bleeding. Unlike my last two surgeries, this won’t be a daVinci robotic surgery.

Hysterectomy

Like every doctor before her, Dr. Lee reviewed my previous surgical reports and was all gloom-and-doom about my prospects for fertility and for long-term endo relief. She kept emphasizing my need to have a hysterectomy, and for the first time in many years I actually heard her out about it. Normally I tune out the docs when they start yammering on about the virtues of hysterectomy (although never the downsides… hmm), but I’m starting to wonder if maybe—just maybe—the docs are right.

It mostly comes down to quality of life: Do I want to keep a modicum of fertility, but live with ceaseless pain and bleeding? Or do I want to say goodbye to that sliver of hope/fertility, but finally have pain relief (and, dare I say, closure)?

I’ve reached a point where I can’t 100% confidently say that I want a baby badly enough to continue suffering physically and emotionally with pain from endo, pain and bleeding from a super-friable and inflamed cervix, pain from fibroids, endless ovary pain, pain from breast cysts (yeah, that’s a new thing…), painful intercourse, mega monster incapacitating cramps, and the icing on the cake: infertility. I just want it all gone… even if that means I can never be a mama. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’re praying for God’s leading on this. For now, I wait quietly.

 

3-Year Blogoversary Musings

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It feels like just yesterday I was posting about my two-year blogversary on WordPress.  I blinked and another year has passed!  Last year when I lamented about two years of infertility blogging, I really expected things to be different for me within a year.  My fertility status, unfortunately, remains unchanged.

What’s more, is that many bloggers who underwent successful IVFs around the same time as my two IVFs (September 2015 and April 2016) are now busy working on their second babies.  And I’m over here just… here.  Stiiiiiiiiiiiiill trying for my first.  I feel pretty left in the dust, like that kid who keeps getting held back a grade in school, over and over again, and ends up graduating when he’s like 22.  I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others; I’m on my own very unique timeline.

I’ve started every single new cycle since last year full of optimism.  I do it all perfectly, to the ‘T’—all the right supplements, timing sex just right, paying close attention to my ovulation.   Then around cycle day 20ish, I begin deflating: the bleeding starts up; my ovary pain kicks into high gear; my temperature won’t reach optimum heights.  My faith quickly slinks into a downward spiral, and I scratch off yet another month.  I don’t understand why my time hasn’t come yet, and I have to restrain my impatience.  Another full year of infertility wasn’t in my plans.

Despite all of the above, there have been many, many blessings in my life since my two-year blogoversary post; I can’t lose sight of the rays of sunshine amidst these clouds.  Besides, no matter how much it hurts (and it totally does freaking hurt, every day), life is so much more than whether I have a child.  So much more… So I’m believing for a cheerier post for my four-year blogoversary, Lord willing.  A lot can happen in a year.

Peace.

2017 blog review.

I can’t be the only person who’s thrilled to see the end of 2017, amiright?  It wasn’t a good year for me like at all, both in Fertility Land and in my offline life.  I’m usually not the kind of person who classifies entire years as either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but 2017 was just straight up rough.   I’m still kind of stunned that I came out of it intact.

I’m clinging to hope of 2018 being worlds better!  So far it has been better, except that our elderly kitty, Grumpy Cat, fell ill this past weekend.  But God has been so very good and gracious in the situation, and I’m 100% believing that GC is in His excellent hands and will be okay.

Now that that’s out of my system, I thought it’d be fun to look back over my blog in 2017 and see what all went down. I’m like the worst at checking the stats to this site; I’m forever forgetting to look at that kind of thing!  I pulled the year’s stats and was surprised at which posts were most popular.  That’s how it is in the blog world I guess: some of what I though were my worst posts fared excellently.  Other posts that I [humbly] believed were pretty good, tanked.

Anyway, here’s a look back at the Top Five posts of 2017:

#5. Back at Square One:      an unforgettable ER visit and continued frustrations about IM bleeding

#4. Infertility and Job Interviews:     recounting a job interview gone very wrong

#3. Conceiving to Conceive:     post-surgical hope for a pregnancy

#2. Surgery Recap: Part 2 of 2:     entirely too wordy—and far too detailed—post-op musings

and

#1. Hysteroscopy #: Arcuate Uterus:    a 2016 post all about weirdly-shaped uteruses (or is that ‘uteri?’)

I’d like to think that this here ‘lil site has helped someone else struggling with fertility and endometriosis in 2017.  WordPress helpfully gave me this here map…:

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… so I’m ever hopeful it has reached another person and helped her along her way in life, encouraged her, or let her know she’s not alone.

And rather than seeing this new year as twelve more tries at a baby, I am instead choosing to focus outwardly in 2018: What can I do this year to help others?  How can I be a blessing to other women? in my community? at my church? to my family?

Believing good things are in store this year, for myself and all my IF friends.

Peace.

 

 

In the Trenches

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The blogs of those women who’ve had their miracle babies either grow stagnant or else morph into parenting blogs. I unfollow many infertility-turned-mommy blogs. To some women they’re a source of encouragement, but I’m not in a place where I can handle baby/parenting posts in my newsfeed. It’s not personal: we’ve all been there at one time or another.

It seems like most of the IF blogger women I’ve befriended have resolved, and I feel isolated. I begrudge no one her happiness in overcoming infertility. I also realize that many suffer from survivor’s guilt, and aren’t sure how to reconcile these two starkly different worlds. They don’t want to inadvertently cause pain to those of us in the trenches. They feel like they can’t relate anymore. And in a way, they can’t relate:  these women have moved from fellow infertility friends to “the others.”  Mothers. The connection that once bonded us together is lost, and our sojourns take differing paths.

While it can be daunting and lonely to realize I’m still in the thick of things, I keep a peace deep inside that it will ultimately be okay. If nothing else, the long experience of infertility has taught me to seek God in a different kind of way. It’s happened gradually. And I don’t mean seeking God in a “gimme” entitlement attitude, or as a magical genie to grant my personal requests. Instead, it’s caused me to search deeper for answers into what His plans are for my life. I’m learning to be content whether or not His plans include children. I have peace.

While I’m believing Him to make me a happy mother of children, if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too. I don’t believe infertility is His perfect will for me, or for anyone. But it is something He’s allowed me to experience for purposes that I may not realize this side of heaven. Although the pain of childlessness isn’t assuaged by this, it does become more manageable. The impossible demands that I place on myself to get pregnant are truly above my pay grade; I hold no power. But I do maintain faith.

The point of this post? That I’m still here, still walking among these trenches, still awaiting my miracle, and still awaiting yours, too. When I come out on the other side, I promise not to make this a mommy blog. I will not forget.