The Fertility Demarcation Line

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In only a few short weeks I’ll be turning 35. In defiance of this age that’s so crucial to the fertility-challenged, I’d started drafting a post all about how 35 could bring its bad self on, how some obscure number wouldn’t suddenly make my eggs all like, “Oh snap, we’re expiring soon!”, etc.  I was all set to publish my post too.

But then, a trigger.

While sitting in church on Sunday morning our pastor invited a couple to come up front with their baby for the baby’s dedication. *Insert gigantic GULP here.* I was caught totally off guard that there’d be a baby dedication that day. If I’d known, I probably would have come in late.

I felt a swarm of conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was happy for this couple. But I was also envious of them. I felt sad for myself… then guilty for entertaining a pity party, especially in church of all places! Several people at my church know that I suffer from infertility. If I left the service while the baby was being dedicated, surely people could guess why. But if I remained in my pew then there’d be the inevitable glances at Marixsa:  you know—the “barren one”—to see how I was “holding up.” Or at least that’s what my pride told me.

Somehow I managed to stay put through the ooohs and the awwws and the laughter that ensued when baby protested to our pastor carrying her around. My heart felt like it was being squeezed. I kept my gaze straight ahead and unsuccessfully fought back tears. In vain, I wrestled against the pangs of grief that my own babies never lived long enough to be dedicated, or even that anyone besides Jake and I know their names. Then I felt rotten for being so selfish during a special moment in the lives of my fellow parishioners.

And so it goes. Infertility’s reminders come during the places and times when we least expect it.

All day afterward something continued to gnaw at me, long after the baby dedication had ended. I finally figured out what it was: 35 looming large on the horizon. That—despite putting my best foot forward, remaining optimistic, and trusting that God will give us the desires of our heart—I’m struggling with this arbitrary line in the sand of my fertility.

By Sunday night I was full fledged upset about turning 35. Once that birthday happens, all the protocols change: my clinic would automatically transfer two embryos instead of one (though I don’t have any embryos anyway). I’d be an elderly primigravida in my doc’s notes and not just your run-of-the-mill primigravida. Any pregnancy I may achieve will be considered a geriatric pregnancy. Geriatric? Me? No way.

I plan to keep pressing on for now. But at the same time, I’m starting to slowly investigate the possibility of one day facing life as permanently childless/child-free/whathaveyou, which is something I’ve never been brave enough to face before. Which then begs the question: When do you stop trying?

It’ll be six years of TTC this June. It gets tiring. At what point does the anxiety of TTC and the putting things on hold “just in case I’m pregnant” get vanquished for good? When do I begin to plan for a future that will just be Jake and I? When do I accept what plans may be for my life?

On the other end, where does my faith come in to play? Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Isn’t that precisely what this situation calls for? Believing in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? I’m either all in or not in at all. I want to be all in, in faith.

If that means continuing to make baby faith purchases along the way, then I’ll open my wallet. If that means swallowing the hurt at baby dedications then I can do it, by focusing on the fact that it’s just not my turn…yet… but someday it will be. If that means continuing trying to conceive despite the odds, then hello temping and ovulation tests.

Not that it’s not still difficult in the meantime. Because it sure is!  But nothing’s worth it if it’s easy… The hardest fought battles bring the sweetest victory… And so on.

What a number a number can do to us.

 

 

 

An Actual Cycle and Other Random Updates

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Errrm…. sorry for the crickets over here. Life has been crazy busy and I keep meaning to blog, but then I think my “updates” are kind of lame and non-updatey, so it never really happens.

Work/business has been crazy, plus we relocated our office to the ‘burbs, and I’m frantically working on creating our website, so—whew! Then, just when I planned to post an update, all the election insanity hijacked the blogosphere. I wanted to wait for that to calm down in my feed before posting. This is a (in)fertility blog and I intend to keep it that way, so have no fear of interposing political views here! There’s plenty of other places to get your politix fix. All I will say on the matter is that I continue to pray for the ever-widening gulf which is so bitterly dividing our great country to be repaired. *end of non-fertility talk*

In the meantime, I have been following everyone else’s blogs on my feed. Please know that I grieve with those of you who’ve recently experienced losses. I celebrate with those of you who’ve gotten your miracle babies or that long-awaited BFP. And I completely identify a million percent with those still of you (well, “us”) still stuck in the trenches. It’s a tough, tough place to live.

The most exciting thing fertility-wise that I have to report is that I finally—after 4 months—had/am having an honest-to-God regular cycle! Sounds like kind of ho-hum news, right? But so far 2016 is going down in history as The Year of Stupid Cycles. I’ve had three (possibly four) bona fide, full cycles complete with ovulation this year. Miscarriage #2 really threw my body for a loop. This was after it took so.many.years to even have regular cycles to begin with. So having my body back on track feels pretty fantastic.

As the holidays draw near, I’m feeling just a tad desperate to end this year on a high note (read: pregnant) and time is a-tickin’. AF is due next week, and I’m praying and doing all the right things. Yep, it’s all pineapple core and brazil nuts and 24/7 sock-wearing around Marixsa’s crib these days. Even though I’m more than five years into this thing and I should know better by now, here I am on cycle day 26 symptom-spotting and chock full of hope. Or maybe naiveté. Or insanity.

Oh yeah. And that whole surgery thing? I never did have my surgical consult back in October that I was so excited about, though not for lack of trying. See, this past year my long-buried anxiety disorder has made a full-out reappearance. This dramatically affects my ability to drive—even though I take medication—without having a panic attack. More on that another post. The solution was to take an Uber to my consult, but it didn’t quite work out. For no particular reason the day of my consult, traffic was backed up 20X more than usual. I spent an hour in the backseat of some Uber driver’s car in dismay staring at a sea of brake lights. In that time, we managed to go four whole miles. There was no way I was making it to the appointment on time. Unfortunately, that surgeon’s office is unrealistically far for me. I never rescheduled the appointment.

Never one to easily give in to defeat, I found a new surgeon! This new doctor is also an hour away, but in an area that is all back roads and near the town I grew up in. Okay: doable. Well, doable with an extra dose of anxiety meds. He uses the Da Vinci robotic method, which I’ve had in a prior surgery and am a fan of. My surgical consult is scheduled for December 9. Surgery #5 will hopefully be in the early part of 2017.

Finally, I am hosting Thanksgiving this year! I typically usually do host it, except for last year when I boycotted the holiday. Since then, it’s taken me a very long time to return to feeling like I want to do anything at all. Most of this past year I’ve been a complete homebody. Isolation and avoiding people were my specialties. Lately that cloud has been slowly lifting, and I am tentatively taking baby steps back into actual living. I have to admit, it’s nice to be back participating in my own life again, although I don’t feel like the same person anymore. In some ways, ongoing infertility and multiple miscarriages have changed and shaped me into a new person: a person who I’m slowly learning to live with. Thirteen family members, including the infamous Baby, will be descending upon my house in three days’ time. Living cautiously in case of pregnancy means I’ll be doing Thanksgiving sans wine, so, please, pray for me.

Peace.

 

You are Not Alone

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Here’s a little something that I read in a book recently. The instant I saw it, I just knew it was meant to be shared with all of you. I hope it brightens your day and provides a little boost of encouragement. This is success in—and in spite of—infertility.

I am a success if
I get through all of this and find
that I love the One who spoke the stars into being
even more than I did when I started,
though at times it has felt like
I’ve walked alone on starless nights.

I am a success if
I’ve managed to keep from shutting out
my most important relationships,
choosing instead to tenaciously initiate intimacy
even when I’ve had no strength left of my own
which with to knock on the door.

I am a success if
I’ve allowed these treacherous rapids
to cut canyons of inner beauty as I’m shaped,
unable to resist, careening along,
letting go of control and learning instead to trust.

I am a success if
I’ve made righteous decisions,
yet express true empathy for those
who have chosen different courses,
wiping their tears with my thumb
when they have faced consequences from their choices.

I am a success if
in the midst of these endless, intense longings,
I still dance in the shadows on a silent floor,
hoping beyond reason
because earthquakes and darkness
sometimes suggest an imminent resurrection.

Keep fighting, warriors, and know that you are not alone.

 

Taken from “You are Not Alone,” The Infertility Companion, by Sandra L. Glahn, Th. M. and William R. Cutrer, M.D., which you can find online here and here.