Posts Tagged ‘Breaking the Silence’

If You’re Happy And You Know It…Or If You’re Not And Don’t Know Why?

If youre happy

I’m so happy to be here.

I’m going to start by saying that, even though the next thing I say will undoubtedly make someone believe that I’m contradicting it.

And that is, that for the past 24 weeks, I’ve had multiple battles of emotion where I found myself thinking:

“I’m supposed to be happier than this. Aren’t I?”

I know that it sounds like the most ungrateful and irresponsible thing I could possibly say, when finally reaching the position that I’ve been trying to reach for so many years. And I really struggled with writing it down at all, but I felt that it was important to stop hiding behind the pressure of being pregnant after infertility and be honest.

For the past few months, I have fought extremely hard with anxiety and fear.   Pregnancy already comes with its own hormonal and emotional changes.  I’ve read a lot of articles and we’ve all seen the commercials and movie scenes that show pregnant women crying over commercials and even happy songs.  I was okay with that, and somewhat expected it, because I know it comes with the territory.  Being pregnant after infertility, however, I believe comes with an added level of stress and trauma that weighs heavily on the heart and affects not only how I view myself as a pregnant woman, but how I feel about everything. These weren’t just pregnancy hormones, this was finding myself so scared and anxious all the time, that it started to feel paralyzing.

For the beginning of this new journey, I was in survival mode.  Every day was another day of questions and worry, brought on because through all the years that I’ve been in the world of infertility, I’ve seen the elated highs of announcements, and also the devastating news when something has gone wrong.

I found myself wanting to be excited, but internally, painfully sad.  Because I wanted this so very badly, and felt like “I’m no better than any of the amazing people who’ve gotten to this point and then had to say goodbye to their little one far too soon”, what makes me different?  Feeling as though I didn’t deserve to be on the other side, I’d be praying for the best, while always emotionally preparing myself for the worst.

Before appointments, I would talk myself through what to do if there was no heartbeat this week. I’d plan out what to say to my office, or how I’ll tell the select few who already knew.  I wanted to prepare myself to be strong, at what would be the most devastating moment of my life.

And I was doing so, because in a way, I’d lived through it before.

When we were planning to adopt, I’d never felt so close to being a parent.  There was an actual, human baby that was being given to us.  Even then, we were careful to only tell a select few, just as we have now.  We were cautiously optimistic.  To get all the way to the hospital, and to holding her, and to hearing this birth mother say out of her own mouth, “Oh, she’ll be just fine with you all”, I made the mistake of letting my guard down.  Of getting excited.  Of getting attached.

So when two days later it was all snatched away, I believe a part of me just wilted. Such an abrupt ending to such a slow and steady hope.  I couldn’t go to work, and I couldn’t leave my room.  I couldn’t be the same ignorant person I’d been before having it happen, and I couldn’t figure out who the informed person was going ot be on the other side of it.

And I NEVER want to be there again.  Because I almost didn’t come out.

So while I knew full well the risks involved in IVF, and although I decided to do it anyway, I’ve been cautious and tentative every step of the way.  My own doctor said I had a pleasant smile, but that it was clear that underneath it she could tell I was petrified and sad.

At times where I should have been bouncing off the walls with excitement and joy, I’d look at the ultrasound monitor and usually say out loud, “Thank God, there’s something still there!”  And the nurses and the doctors always look at me like, “Of course, silly!”  And then I just start the countdown to the next appointment, when I’ll probably be just as terrified.

My patient and caring husband has been dragged along in my issues as I kept us from announcing until a whopping 20 weeks, though I’d designed an announcement somewhere around week 8.  I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head that if we were to once again get people’s hopes up, including our own, and then have to turn around and let everyone down again, I didn’t think I could handle it.

While listening to a podcast that I love, “The Friend Zone” I heard this statement:”Most of us are spending so much time fearing the loss of something, that we can’t even enjoy it.”

“Most of us are spending so much time fearing the loss of something, that we can’t even enjoy it.”

 WOW.  What a word.  That’s exactly it.

I have felt extremely isolated in my anxiety out of guilt and shame.  Guilt for feeling as though I should NEVER find myself anything but elated when so many of my friends are still fighting to get to this side.  Ashamed that I was “allowing” the anxiety and worry to rob me of the experience I’d waited for, or that my emotional state would be harmful to this little life, which then made me feel even worse. Also, I worried that to tell these feelings would be offensive or hurtful to those who have followed me, or prayed for us, or who are at times seemingly more happy for us than I’ve been able to be for myself.

But, being in my head all of the time is the true culprit here.  I can’t just put my head down and barrel through this like I once believed.  I have to speak, because that’s my therapy. I decided to share these feelings because I’ve prided this blog, and really all of BBE on being honest.  On saying those things that others may be thinking but may not feel they have the right or even the platform to say.  This is no different.

Pregnancy depression and anxiety is a REAL thing.  It actually affects about 6% of all pregnant women and is sometimes more common in women who have experienced infertility.  After the emotional highs and lows of infertility, we’re so used to safeguarding ourselves from the worst, that we can sometimes have a hard time adjusting.  Feelings of isolation and not fitting into the “naturally” pregnant world, or belonging in our infertility circles anymore can become overwhelming.

If you’re like me, and fighting off sadness, I want you to know you’re not alone.  Your feelings are valid, no matter how off-putting they may be.  They don’t take away from how amazing of a parent you’re going to be, or how wonderful of a parent you already are. Wherever you are on this journey, I’m rooting for you, and I’m praying for all of us!

I am so very grateful to God that I’m here now.  That I’ve seen the heartbeat and heard it with my own ears.  That something we’ve waited for so long, is finally within our own reach, just a few months away! Sometimes I’m so excited I could literally run down the street like a crazy person, because June can’t get here fast enough.

The feelings I’ve talked about here today, don’t take away from that.  They don’t make me second guess my choice to take the crazy IVF ride, or to even be a parent at all.  They remind me that I’m human, and that this whole thing is so much bigger than babies.  That our emotional and psychological well-being is intimately tied to our ability to grow our families in the way that we choose.

And here’s a small treat, and the Christmas Gift my husband and I bought for ourselves the day after Christmas.  We went to a commercial ultrasound facility for a gender check, AND they added the heartbeat to a stuffed animal for us.  THANK YOU for sticking with us.

He Is

 

Resources:

Depression is Common Following Successful IVF
Coping With Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy
Depression During Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms And Treatment
The Dark, Dirty Secret of Prenatal Depression – Thanks KEIKO!!

And as always, you can always talk to ME.

 

 

Things that Could Mean Everything,…or Nothing At All.

Things That Could Mean Everything

I had to take a few weeks to myself while nearing the end of our IVF journey because I was battling extreme anxiety and wanted to be as focused as possible.  But have no fear!  I have been documenting all the while, so that all my thoughts would be fresh and that I’ll be able to share with you what has been going on once I was a safe distance from it. The following are my actual thoughts while enduring everyone’s dreaded two week wait between transfer and beta testing.

Regina

 

Because what is infertility without panic and superstition?

Things that could mean everything, or maybe nothing:

  • Going to pee and then after sitting right back down, feeling like I forgot to pee when I was in there.
  • Extreme and relentless boobage somehow.
  • Black person myth-busting necessity: Dreamed of Salmon…though I don’t know what the rules are about the whole “I dreamed of fish” thing.  Do the fish have to be swimming along having a good time?  Or does my dream of perfectly cooked salmon last night not count?
  • Dizziness.  I could have just been tired though.
  • Nauseatingly warm.  Not nauseous. But boiling.

Coincidences that made me smile momentarily and then just creeped me out:

Spiders are supposed to be good luck, right?

  • Spiders in the doctor’s office on the day of transfer
  • Spiders in the bathroom at home the evening after
  • Spiders at work the next day
  • Spider in my CAR the next evening
  • Spider in the hallway of my building the next day

When visiting my doctor’s office for bloodwork and ultrasounds, there was always music playing in the ultrasound room:

  • We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off by Jermaine Stewart
  • If You Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  • Danger Zone (this one actually played the day they found out I was hyper-stimming a little)
  • We Belong Together by Pat Benetar
  • Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics
  • Lady by The Commodores
Times I freaked out and assumed I’d ruined everything:
  • The day after the transfer, Wendy’s under-cooked my chicken sandwich and I almost had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by eating under-cooked meat.
  • Upon returning to work that day, I also moved a piece of furniture in the teen room at work and once again had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by overexerting myself.
  • Bought pineapple to try and do the pineapple diet, but forgot it was in the refrigerator and didn’t eat it.  So of course…I’d ruined everything.
  • Then, I dreamed of fish, but it was cooked. So once again, I had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything.
  • Oh, then I drank a glass of ice water and took my socks off to fight the aforementioned boiling point…then read a blog about PCOS during the 2ww that said, you should NOT drink ice water and you should have socks on 24/7 to “keep all your energy going to your uterus”. So then I had another conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by taking precious energy from my uterus to warm my water and feet.

Clearly I’m neurotic, and making hellafied mistakes with this whole thing I’m sure, but whatever the case…stick around, kid.  Stick. Around.

2WW Grief & Anxiety

 

2ww Grief 2

I had to take a few weeks to myself while nearing the end of our IVF journey because I was battling extreme anxiety and wanted to be as focused as possible.  But have no fear!  I have been documenting all the while, so that all my thoughts would be fresh and that I’ll be able to share with you what has been going on once I was a safe distance from it. The following are my actual thoughts while enduring everyone’s dreaded two week wait between transfer and beta testing.

Regina

 

The 2WW.  I’ve heard tales of it, but honestly, each person’s experience with it is their own I’m learning.  I have my moments of frustration and confusion, but overall I’m too busy to really focus on it much.  I’m not quite ready to pull my hair out, or prepared to run through the pregnancy test aisles of my nearest convenience store.

To be honest, I’m hopeful, but also cognizant of the fact that this may not work. It’s a fact that we all have to acknowledge when embarking on fertility treatments of any kind.  We have to be honest with ourselves and our partners.

I know his/her name.
I know who I believe they will be.
All I don’t know, is if my thoughts align with God’s will.

And in my moments of doubt, I start to feel very strongly that if this doesn’t work,  I will want and need to apologize.

To my job,

Although I’ve tried so hard not to actually take any days off other than retrieval and transfer, I know that mentally, I just wasn’t there for the past couple of months. Working in a child-heavy environment, I have worked SO hard for soo long to keep my fertility issues out of sight, that even with a sore backside and absolutely no energy after driving 40 miles roundtrip for bloodwork, I’ve been still attempting to keep things quiet.  I worry that when this is all over, if I have nothing to show for it, I’ll feel even worse to see that I’ve let my work fall to the wayside.

To my family,

For taking some of them on this fragmented roller coaster ride that I’ve ridden solo for years previous.  I knew this ride was dangerous, so any stress they’ve taken on for me was clearly my fault.  My mom worries, and I’d just be so sorry to have made her take on so much extra stress.  Because, there isn’t much they can actually do.  The shots, the meds, and everything else falls on me and my husband, so really all I’m doing is giving them (possibly) false hope, and I would hate to have done that.

And even

To myself.

For putting myself through shots everyday for the past 60 or so days, and sometimes twice a day.  For irritating my skin with the adhesive backing of estrogen patches.  For almost choking myself with these oddly circular estrogen pills that get stuck in my esophagus four times a day.  I’ve given myself time to process every piece of this journey, by taking myself out of my normal social circles and isolating myself to the point where people have started messaging me and asking if I’m alive and well.  I’ve had to close myself off so that I can focus on these things I’m doing that are so far outside of my comfort zone, (shots, anyone?), and it’s made me feel awkward and anxious.  If this doesn’t work, I’ll worry that I’ll have to repair those connections, while privately licking my wounds, and I wonder how that will change me.

But, I’m sure this is all normal, right?

All these feelings of trying to protect myself from hoping too much, while trying to keep myself at optimum performance.  Resisting the urge to POAS because I know that if it doesn’t say what I want it to say that I’ll lose the will to keep moving forward.  All of this, from the highest peak to the lowest depth, are all normal feelings.  And hopefully, at the end of this two weeks, they’ll be irrelevant.

Opening the Door On…the Secret Closets of Infertility

the secret closetsFor the record, I never really talk to people about my hall closet.  For all of my advocacy, and as much as I’m open about infertility and what it has meant in my life, I very rarely have told people about the things behind that door.

There’s a baby bathtub resting along the inner right wall, with washcloths and a temperature duckie that sit lonely inside of its hollow belly.  Blankets with nothing to wrap themselves around lie still and unbothered on the lower bottom shelf.  A picture book gift from a friend is kept in it’s original mailer rather than being added it to my bookshelf and sits in a closet organizer where there are also infant clothes with tags hanging from their sleeves and a first Easter dress that was worn once and still smells of baby lotion.  Sitting silent on the top shelf, collecting dust and grime as the days go by, are toys that have never been opened.

Sitting at my dining room table, just underneath a chair is a bumbo chair from a friend that I never touch. It’s blended in so well at this point that I often forget it’s there.  Kind of like the carseat that sat in the corner for months until we finally got the courage to toss it out. Or the bag of newborn caps that is in the trunk of the car.

Ever so often, I will come across a barrette or headband that slipped through the cracks and just so happened to turn up on an especially hard day.  There are also times where I run into that old box of baby bottles that I can’t bring myself to throw away, or a plastic case that used to hold baby wipes that I’ve had to re-appropriate.

The thing about my closet, and my hall, and my bottom drawer, is that they aren’t unique. There are thousands of other closets and drawers and trunks with hidden pockets of delayed hope.  So many other people have walked past one onesie too many in a store and decided, “No, I’m gonna buy this in good faith.”  Others still have walked down the road towards adoption, and prepared their homes and closets only to be left with the remnants of a dream that fell through their fingertips.

For over 200 days, my husband and I were foster parents to a child who was originally supposed to be our adopted daughter.  We cared for her and loved her and encased our life around her in the hopes that fate would see our dedication and reward us.

Those MOMENTS.
They were mine, but not mine.
It was like holding our breath every.single.day.

I remember one night at my husband’s job, where I watched a couple pull up in their Mercedes truck. They came to the desk and gave him their keys making small talk about how  “The Bulls Game is over, so we’re gonna go pick up the baby”. And my husband and I laughed at the fact that they were giving him that much information.

30 minutes later, they come back down, he carrying the baby carrier, and she carrying the bag while chatting on the phone. And they took their baby, and got into their Mercedes, and drove away to their life. Which may not be perfect.  But had so much that I wanted in just that scene.

I wanted so badly to leave work, and pick up my husband, and pick up MY child, and go on with MY life.  That’s what I WANT.

Instead, I’d drive to my husband, and we’d worry, and we’d plan, and we’d ponder…then we’d go and pick up someone else’s baby, and drive to our apartment, and we’d eat junk, and we’d worry more.

And I’d get so TIRED of it.  Of those moments that didn’t really belong to me.
Of that little girl. Of singing to her, and taking my time with her, and loving her.
For it to not be mine.  For me to have to turn her over to someone who didn’t care enough about her to not give her drugs before her first breath.
Seemed like some bullshit to me. And I tried consistently to have grace under pressure.
But it’s still some fucking bullshit.

People so often ask those with infertility why they won’t “just adopt”.  They assume that all we want is a baby.  And that since there are “sooo many” babies just waiting around for someone to save them, it’s a win-win for us both.  And they don’t mean any harm for the most part.  They see what could be a means to an end, I guess.

And in that means to an end, they don’t see what happens when it doesn’t work.  When you’re holding your breath in the hospital and trying not to get too excited.  They don’t see you standing in the hallway of the birthmother’s room, hoping that her visitors aren’t telling her to change her mind.  They have no idea how tumultuous it is in your heart when you’re trying to show love to a newborn, and show their birthparents that they haven’t made a bad decision, while not overstepping any invisible boundaries.  Or how confusing it is to answer the hospital staff about just who it is you are.

When people tell you to adopt, they don’t know about the feelings of inadequacy when that child is crying, and you aren’t sure if it’s because they know you aren’t their “real” mom.  Or how many times you’re left speechless when trying to figure out how to answer medical questions, or fill out paperwork.

They have no idea how fast and intense your very being can plummet when a birthparent tells you that they have decided to parent.  Or the fury and sadness that intermingle when they don’t even say it to you directly, but avoid you or simply block you from the hospital room, when just hours, days, months ago they were calling you their new best friend and thanking you for being there.  There is no way to understand until you’ve been there that not only is it very easy to love a child whom you did not give birth to, but that when the prospect of being that child’s parent is snatched away, it feels as though your own has died.

And like others who have loved and lost, we mourn.  And like so many others who mourn, we hoard those small reminders.  Clothes and blankets, and toys, and dreams.  Sitting on our shelves, stuffed into our closets, and unforgotten in our hearts.

You are not alone.

My closet is full too.

 

Did I Ask You All That? Opening the Door On: Infertility and Advice

Opening The Door On - Infertility and Advice

We’ve all heard our fair share of what goes for “advice” these days.  Everything from “Are you sure you’re infertile?  Did a doctor tell you that, or are you listening to too many people on the tv?” to “Maybe you’re doing it wrong”, we’ve heard them all.  Today’s #NIAW post is a tongue-in-cheek look behind the door of one of the most dreaded by-products of infertility; Advice.


Girl look, I appreciate your support.  You seem really committed to helping me “get over this whole infertility thing” as quickly as you can make me, and I appreciate your go-get-em attitude about it all.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t really ask you for all that you’re trying to give me.  I can appreciate the fact that the earth goddess and the moonlight came together for the bark that you put into your tea that led to  your ovaries singing songs and welcoming the dawn that led to you conceiving your fifteen-year-old.  I think that’s awesome, and I’m really happy for you and little Shaman.  However, all the moonlight and tree bark in the world may not open my Fallopian tubes or clear out my endometriosis, so girl bye.

Friend, I’m sooo very sorry about your head cold.  I mean, it sounds like it sucks, and I can only imagine how hard it is to remember to take your antibiotics every day.  Man, I remember what that’s like, from the millions of colds I’ve had throughout my life. Because you’re so stressed out, I won’t bother bogging you down with my woe of being on a PCOS induced menstrual cyle from hell, or how I’ve hit day 20 of this one in particular.  I mean, you don’t have time to hear all of that, you’re going to need a day off pretty soon if that cold keeps getting you down.  But don’t you worry, you go ahead and take that day when you need it!  I’ll be here.  At work.  Bleeding.

Miss Claudine, I really want to thank you for your thoughts on adoption.  The idea that you believe something is “wrong” with kids who need to be adopted, was a little odd for me to hear from you.  You know, seeing as how that son of yours was actually birthed by your older sister’s youngest daughter.  But what do I know? Maybe you’re right and I guess as you say, “black folk don’t do that”.  However, considering I’m going through a painful decision process about whether or not adoption is the only option for my family, I really truly don’t need your judgment clouding mine, but thanks for sharing!

Speaking of adoption, Militant Buddy, I’d like for you to cool your heels when heading over to my Facebook inbox demanding that I not be selfish and that I take in one of the thousands of children in need of homes that I’m apparently ignoring.  I appreciate your passion, and I ask you, when are you visiting an agency, and how have you raised your $30,000 in fees?  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for that.  I mean, you seem really touched by the idea of adoption, and I think anyone with this much fervor for it, must be pretty much on their way to doing it themselves right?  Or are you only suggesting it to me because it seems to you that I have to?  I’d also hope that before you open your home to one of the “thousands” of kids, that you’d take a bit to consider how you plan on telling your new kid that you felt like their only hope and that they were so unwanted that you just had to swoop in and save them.  Because they’re not kids, right?  They’re consolation prizes and charitable acts.  Right?  Right.

Sister Odell, it was great talking to you after church today.  I want to express to you just how helpful it was for me to hear you say that maybe my faith isn’t strong enough or that I’m not praying right,  or that I’m “in God’s way”.  I’d really like to hold on to that when next I see someone who has killed their children, or beaten them within an inch of their lives on the news.  It will remind me that those women, who are on their way to jail, obviously have much more faith than me, and that the Lord hears them and not me.  I’ve been teetering in my faith for a few years now because of this, and I’m glad to know that I’m not wrong, and that God really has forsaken me.  Thanks for the help in deciding not to return to church.  You really helped me out.

Aunt LuLu, I have always loved your sense of humor.  Your sex jokes can still make my dad blush, and you guys grew up together.  I can understand why someone as sexually liberated as yourself would think that us changing up what we’ve done in our bedroom over the last 16 years of marriage should be able to get us pregnant, but I’m sorry to say it won’t. Acrobatic tricks and “massage” oils won’t really do much for sperm count issues, and to be honest, your favorite flavored lubricant can actually kill them.  But I gotta give it to you though, out of all the other people I’ve talked to about this, I appreciate your sense of humor and openness the most.  It helps me to remember to laugh.

Best Friend, I’ve enjoyed sharing this part of my life with you.  We’ve been through so much together, that it would really be hard for me to not include you in what are some of the darkest times I’ve had to endure.  I want to thank you for always listening to me, and letting me vent about how hard it is for me to climb into those stirrups yet again only to be back at square one a few weeks later.  I guess our openness and candor is what makes you feel so comfortable complaining about your aching feet and back to me, or how tired of being pregnant you are.  You know, with this being your fourth baby, when I always thought we’d have had our first together and been pregnant besties who gave birth to besties, I guess it’s hard for you to have to let go of that dream, and so you feel the need to include me on every, single, detail of your pregnancy.  Rest assured, however, that I really don’t need to know.  I don’t actually need to hear your staunch views and jokes about how you wish you could get your husband “fixed” since every time he breathes on you, you get pregnant, and I really don’t give a care to be offered one of your kids every time they’re getting on your nerves around the house.  Do you have any idea how much my husband WISHES he could breathe on me?  Any thought about how I’d love for a toddler to make a mess of my living room?  It’s cool, and we’re cool, and I love you to the moon, but I need you to think when speaking to me these days.  I’m more fragile than I let on.

Mom, I want to thank you for simply asking me what you can do.  Yours is the best and most welcome thing that’s been said to me throughout this entire ordeal.  I am so sorry I haven’t been able to achieve the dreams you have for me, even if it’s been just the basic one of me being happy.  I’m grateful that when I need your advice, you know that I’ll ask for it, and that when you give it, you always take care to consider how I’ll feel after our talk.  I wish you could teach these other people. LOL

 

 

Opening The Door on…Parenting After Infertility

Opening The Door On - Parenting After InfertilityThe following is an anonymous submission for The Egg’s 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week Blog Project, #BehindClosedDoors.  Most people assume that this is all about babies.  Not many people stop to think about what takes place after the babies are born.  Does the doubt ever go away?  The fear?  Not for many.

Here’s another look behind the door.


So everything will be fine once you have that baby. Right? Is what I thought. I think that’s a thought we all have. I’d be super mom and every heartache, depressed mood, crying episode would disappear as quickly as they came. But of course life is never that simple with infertility.

I guess the bottom line is that any experience that has had a life-altering affect, never really leaves you. The fire is gone but the smell is still there.

I guess it was naive of me to think something that held up my life for nearly 10 years would just disappear so easily.

Several thoughts play in my head over and over again on a regular basis. I often have thoughts that people are judging me through a different lens than they do other mothers. It feels as if I have to work harder because I wanted it more than the average woman.

I also live in my head more than I thought I ever would. From time to time I’m questioning if I’m doing everything right. Is the baby’s nose always clean, is he meeting every bench mark or is he he eating healthy enough! I know this is definitely a new mom thing but there is still an element of infertility associated with it.

What’s also frustrating is that all of my good friends kids are grown. So it’s hard for them to relate to me as a new mom. So while we are ecstatic to have our bundle of joy all of our friends kids are off to college.

The other thought is how to continue to build our family. IVF is hard and adoption is expensive. So will our baby be an only child or will we endeavor this difficult path once again??


The above was a submission to the Egg’s 2015 NIAW Project “Behind Closed Doors”.  If you would like to submit a post on what goes on behind the scenes of YOUR fertility journey.  Please consider sharing a submission by emailing me at Regina@thebrokenbrownegg.org

Submissions 2015

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