Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Movin' Right Along

Well, subcutaneous injections haven't stopped sucking in the six months since my last cycle. And Repronex stings going in and leaves behind skin irritation, just as they told me it would. But it's happening, this second cycle. I'm back in the game.

There's something different this time – I'm different. It's as if the situation had to spin so far out of control – bad ultrasound, worse miscarriage, reparative surgery – for me to finally release my death grip on control. I get it now: There's nothing, beyond following my doctor's instructions, that I can do. And since there is nothing I can do, I'd rather do almost anything else than think about infertility.

Do I even need to say that I care? I do. I don't think there's any way that I could will myself to stop caring. But I guess where I've arrived, at this moment, for this cycle, is that when given the choice between obsessing nonstop about how many follicles I might have and diving into an entertaining book, I have started to choose the book. Because someone else is thinking about whether I should take medication A or B, or when I should trigger. And she went to medical school. And trained at a top medical center. Thereby freeing me up to read said book.

I don't know if I'm fooling myself, if maybe this is the peaceful prelude to a full-scale nervous breakdown that's been percolating quietly in my psyche. Or if, upon hearing any more bad news about my reproductive prospects, my new mentality will just shatter to bits. Maybe some of you are out there smiling knowing smiles, having been in this place before and having slid painfully back. But I do know that for now, I feel better – steadier. And while that may not be more likely to get me pregnant, it is a welcome shift.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nervous Nellie

The thing about going through infertility treatments is that the rest of your life doesn't wait for you to finish. You can't stop the world from turning, can't press pause on everything else. People – including people with medical degrees – tell you that stress is not helpful for conception. You resolve over and over to banish all stress from your life and shrug things off. And you quickly realize that absent becoming a recluse and talking to no one, that goal is a naive fantasy.

Forgive the term, but it's a vicious cycle. I spent the week feeling utterly overwhelmed by anxiety from work and other issues. My physical symptoms were so intense that on Thursday night the only thing that kept me driving to a work event amid a massive anxiety attack was the knowledge that the event would be attended by several doctors (it pays to work in health care). I figured it wouldn't be great professionally to interrupt the meeting with a heart attack, but at least I probably wouldn't die. Now, having survived, as I continue on Lupron (started Monday) and wait for my baseline next Thursday, I wonder what impact all of it could have on my cycle.

There's another spin to this vicious cycle. I wonder, too, how much my being overwhelmed by infertility contributes to my stress in other areas of life. Everything feels so intense right now, because so much of how I look at my life – so much of my definition of happiness and success – depends on this working. The unfairness of infertility makes other injustices we have to deal with seem even more bitter and unfair, other stressors all the more stressful. I feel acutely sensitive and self-protective.

I don't know that there's an answer (there rarely is), other than reminding myself that many women have gone before me, lived to tell after infertility, and had babies despite the burden of stress in other parts of their lives. Life goes on. And I have to do what I can to keep up. The best I can.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hope in Bloom, Part II

On Saturday morning, my husband called me over to the kitchen window to look out at the backyard, where I saw this.

They had sprouted in the middle of the still winter-brown yard, nowhere near our flower beds. We have no idea where they came from.

"It's a sign," he said. "Twins."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hope in Bloom

Not to rely too much on a cliche (though infertility will do that, among other things, to a girl), but this time of year is just really good for hope. It's as if the weather – and the world – has warmed and awakened again just in time to wish me well, to offer a pleasant backdrop for the happy ending I might dare to imagine.

All it took to deliver me back to this fantasy (which is clearly delusional; see previous year and a half of hell) was a straightforward, easy surgery last week and a 10-minute consult with my doctor this past Monday, during which she said magic words: because of the minor scarring she found, she doesn't even need to look (through another office hysteroscopy, which I'd assumed was in the cards) again. We can start right away with a new cycle.

And just like that, a clean slate. I can finally move on from my first, doomed pregnancy. There is a whole new opportunity before us, independent of anything that's happened before and yet encouraged by the fact (and, according to my doctor, a lot of scientific data) that my body proved through this pregnancy that it could be a welcoming home for a wandering embryo.

Now, I'm not going all Pollyanna on you (they gave me a hysteroscopy, not a lobotomy). I haven't forgotten the misery of these months, or the fact that loss happens, and happened to us. But I am amazed by the resilience of hope. I am slowly acknowledging that maybe I won't need to mourn this pregnancy for the rest of my life. A new pregnancy – one that leads with certainty to a healthy baby – could wipe it away. Based on the IVF schedule we mapped out the other day (carefully crafted to avoid major upcoming work events), that could happen at the beginning of May – which, as birds begin to chirp and buds break ground, feels like it's just around the corner.