Thursday, September 26, 2013

SHG test & results

My first and hopefully (please God) last sonohysterogram is over. It was probably worse than I expected, to be honest. Tuesday night I was feeling pretty bummed about everything. A year ago, I had a surgery to remove a polyp. More than a year ago, I had an HSG (not to be confused with an SHG...). And here we are, still childless. The night before the test, there was an unbidden parade of people in my mind who have all gotten pregnant within the last year...go away, please! I love you and your babies, but I'd like some space to grieve, okay?
Yesterday morning Mr. M kindly drove me to my appointment, knowing I probably wouldn't feel like driving afterwards. It was great to have him to distract me beforehand too.
Arriving at my doctor's office, my heart sank. I feel like I'm developing post-traumatic stress disorder from that place...the only magazines they ever have are pregnancy and parenting mags. There are pictures of babies and pregnant women everywhere. Of course I'm usually the only not-obviously-pregnant woman in the waiting room. Sigh.
I got called back, got some Advil (I forgot to bring it with me - whoops) and went to the sonogram room. Surprise surprise, more babies on the wall. LOTS of babies - there were a bunch of those 4D ultrasound pictures on one wall, a diagram of pregnancy on another, and a framed photo of a dozen babies with that Mother Theresa quote about babies and flowers on a third. Can't they have a separate IF sonography room with pictures of bunnies and flowers and sunsets or something? 
The procedure itself was awful. I mean, how can that not hurt when they're poking you "down there"? It's so awkward and uncomfortable and cold and just ugghhhhh. Thankfully there was an extra nurse in the room who kindly held my hand the whole time. I don't care - I'll be a baby about it. Speculums are an instrument of torture in my book...and when they were doing the actual sonogram, my distended uterus (they inflate it or something) hurt really bad whenever the wand would press against it. Like, really bad.
It finally ended, thank God. I think they were all concerned about me because I practically started crying during the procedure and said out loud, "That really hurts!" 
And the results are...polyps are back. Plural this time (it was only one before). I'll have a full follow-up in October after the radiologist reviews the pictures, but dang it. Polyps, again? The sonographer said that could mean another surgery. For what purpose? I'm wondering. Didn't seem to work the first time.
Driving to work, half-crying, half-talking with Mr. M (God bless him, he was so sympathetic and felt horrible that I was in pain), I just felt so angry. Angry that I had to go through another horrible procedure. Angry that my uterus has polyps in it instead of a baby. Angry that I might be facing another surgery. Angry about our situation. It just stinks. I didn't feel like putting a happy face on it.
(Adoption is looking better and better - during the procedure, I thought, "I'll fill out forms all day long rather than go through this!")
I'm just glad it's over. I guess it had a diagnostic purpose, but man is that a rough way to start the day! Thank God we have a retreat this weekend. I wish it started right now...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday evening rambling thoughts

Tomorrow is my sonohysterogram procedure. Ugh. I know there are worse things in the world, but still. Ugh. If it's anything like a hysterosalpingogram (did I spell that right?) it will be bearable. I hope that it actually yields some results and I hope I'm feeling well enough to go back to work afterwards. I'm taking off on Friday to go on a retreat with Mr. M (so excited about that!!) so I'm scrambling to get my work done.


I read an article online this week that depressed me. I know, I know I should have steered clear - it was not an article written with infertile gals in mind, that's for sure. If I could petition for one thing in the internet world it would be that no one ever, ever again writes an article on the theme of "top 10 reasons to have children early in your marriage" or something to that effect. I just don't get it - having children is not something you can just decide to do, and whammo, a baby. Right? But maybe that's how it happens in the universe outside of infertile land.

I mean, articles that begin with "top 10 reasons to..." usually are about something the author is convincing you to do: "Top 10 reasons to paint your bedroom yellow"..."Top 10 reasons to vacation in Jamaica"..."Top 10 reasons to get a degree in criminology" or whatever. "Top 10 reasons to have a baby"....? Not the same.

I get it. They're trying to convince people who are anti-baby that babies are wonderful and gifts of God. But it invariably makes children seem like something you do rather than something you receive. And it invariably touches all my sore spots and reminds me at how tragically sad it is that me and so many others are still waiting for their families to grow beyond two.

If I wrote an article called "Top 10 reasons to have a baby right away," it would list things like:

"You won't have to decline invitations to baby showers and baptisms because you know you'd be crying in the bathroom half the time anyway."


"You won't have to endure invasive, painful procedures to try and trouble-shoot why you and your husband haven't gotten pregnant after two years"


"You'll be able to give happy news to your family at Christmas and not dread the questions and hints about grandchildren."


(Bitter much? Sometimes it just sneaks out...)

I don't know. I'm probably being over sensitive. I tried to examine my feelings - why did that article hurt so much? - and came up with two reasons.

1. I'm jealous of the attention that pregnant women and mothers get, especially within the Church, and want someone to notice us and our marriage and affirm that we're contributing something valuable to the world.

2. I'm jealous of people who seem to sail through their reproductive years having children when they want to have them, with seemingly not a thought to the fact that not everyone finds childbearing easy, and that not everyone lives in the happy clappy world of positive pregnancy tests and cutesy pregnancy announcements and choosing baby names and talking baby shop and baby baby baby baby.

(Whew! There's a good bit of bitterness I need to pray through, apparently...)

I just want us all to be in it together. I want to feel like I have something to offer the world, even though I don't have kids. I don't want to feel jealous. I want to be happy for others, but I also want some acknowledgement that I'm not crazy, that having kids is not something you "do" but something you "receive," that moms and non-moms can encourage each other in holiness (just like wives and single women can too).


Conclusion: I need to pray a prayer like the Litany of Humility more often. "From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus...From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus...That others may be praised and I unnoticed...That others may know the joy of motherhood..." (I made that last line up.) What a challenging prayer to pray! That I may be small, and humble, and unnoticed, and forgotten, while others are praised and esteemed...because God sees. He knows. He cares.

Jesus, I trust in you.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

What I learned at my first adoption meeting

This past Tuesday, I went to my first ever meeting about adoption. It was an information night hosted by a local agency - very local to us. It's in a business park only a few minutes from our home, so that was convenient (and went in the "pro" column in our pro/con list). There were about 20 people there, and the woman I sat next to was very friendly, which was nice, especially because Mr. M couldn't come with me.

I was really impressed with the two agency workers who led the meeting. They were both very knowledgeable, were able to answer everyone's questions, and also seemed personable and easy to work with. You could tell they really cared about finding good homes for children, and helping birth parents through such a difficult time.

I had a number of questions answered, some encouraging, some...not so much. I think the biggest benefit of going to a meeting like this, other than starting to discern whether this agency would be a good fit for us, is getting to ask those very specific questions that I've been wondering about, and get an answer from a professional.

One question was: what happens if we start an adoption, but move away before we receive a placement (that's adoption-speak for "adopt a child"): this is a real possibility for us, since Mr. M will be searching for jobs all over the country next year. The answer was relieving: if we moved "out of area" (this agency works in three neighboring states), then we'd have to update our home study through a local agency, but could still receive a placement through the first agency. In other words, our progress wouldn't be totally disrupted by moving. That was a relief.

Someone else asked how much money you should plan to have before starting with an adoption, which is something I was wondering too. The answer was: you pay in sections - first the money for the home study, then a deposit to join the waiting list, then a much bigger amount once a child is placed with you. Ideally, it would be good to have all the money ready to go when you join the waiting list, since it is possible (although unlikely) to receive a placement right away. But they also said it's possible to have just the money for the home study and deposit, and have a letter from your parents (for example) promising to pay the balance if you get a placement right away. Obviously that isn't possible for everyone - it could be for us, but that isn't something we've broached with my parents. Another option is taking out a loan if you need the balance $$ right away - not ideal, but doable. So that helped to clear up some questions for me. For us, I think our preferred route would be to have the money (in cash, so to speak) for the home study, deposit, and part of the balance ready, and then when we start the home study, start fundraising, so hopefully by the time placement rolls around, we have enough. But this all seems so abstract right now.

Going to this meeting helped convince me that the agency route would be best for us (not an attorney). I really like the idea of a "complete package" - to know someone is providing counseling for the birth mother, that there's a team of experts I could turn to, and that there's post-placement support. One adoption book I read said you should figure out your "neediness scale" when considering agency/attorney options, and I think my neediness level is pretty high =) I don't think I'm up for screening birth mother calls myself, for example. I'd appreciate the professional help.

Wrapping this answer I got was definitely NOT what I was hoping for...towards the end, I asked what kind of requirements there are for the kind of house/apartment you have. The answer was that you don't need to own the home (good), in our state you need to have a separate bedroom for the child after 6 months (okay), and it needs to meet basic fire safety standards. Hmmm...I had to ask a specific question afterwards about that one, because our apartment (our lovely, cozy, pleasant, spacious apartment) is a basement apartment, and two rooms - our bedroom and guest/sewing room/future nursery - are completely windowless. And I had a sinking feeling that that would not fly with the fire department...

And I was right. I asked that specific question after the meeting, and one of the agency workers emailed me the next day to say, sorry, but the fire department would probably not OK our apartment as safe.


I get it. I get needing two escape routes, and I get that we are not up to fire code in our delightfully dark bedroom. But man - HUGE bummer! Our first step for adoption now looks like this:

1. Find a new place to live.

(Have I mentioned that we live in an expensive part of the country? And that our current apartment is by far the biggest place we could get for this price? And that we just moved here at the end of June? And that I love our apartment? Like, really love it? It has a patio, it has a washer and dryer, it has a spacious kitchen, it has no windows in the bedroom which makes it nice for sleeping...oh wait, that "perk" is not as good as I thought it was...)

I had a good cry about this latest discovery that night. And then I perked up, and remembered that we're not financially ready to proceed with adoption yet anyway, and that we're both really used to moving - this is the fourth place I've lived in the last 5 years. So it's not a complete disaster.

But it's still disappointing to realize that we're basically stalled on adoption while we're here. But I'm glad I found that out now, and not after we started our home study and shelled out a big chunk of money. So thank you, efficient agency lady.

Next steps? Save money. Look into one more agency in our area (why not?). Pray. Wait. Hope. Pray some more. Try to get a child into our below-fire-code apartment the "old fashioned" way =) ha ha


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

cycle recap and next steps

Cycle day 1 again. Bummer.

This isn't really a "cycle review" because I didn't get any professional advice on this cycle. Just a reflection on the past cycle.

This was my second attempted and failed cycle using Tamoxifen. I really have no clue what the point is in taking it. That's been my problem from the beginning - there's no clear symptom or condition that Tamoxifen is addressing. It's just trying something to see if it will work. So far it hasn't. My luteal phases are fine - 12/13 days, the same as always.

But it's seriously messed up my CM, which was pathetic both this cycle and last. And that, in turn, messes me up psychologically. It's hard to convince myself that relations are worthwhile (on a night that we might not otherwise feel like it) when I don't see encouraging fertile signs, if that makes sense. So that's probably a factor too. Bleh.

Now, after not doing much of anything for awhile, all of a sudden there's a number of fertility-related stuff coming up:

  • I'm giving Tamoxifen one more month, just to say I tried it. 
  • I'm still using B6 but it's not doing anything. Maybe it just doesn't work for me, or maybe it's the Tamoxifen - don't know. I'm going to use up my 60-tab supply of 500 dosage and then cut back to 100 dosage. I'm hoping my CM will bounce back after the Tamoxifen is out of my system.
  • Next Wednesday I have a sonohysterogram scheduled. My excitement is minimal. Actually I'm not excited at all to have another uncomfortable, invasive procedure. But at least this one seems to be more rationally related to my situation. The goal is to see whether there are still polyps in my uterus, since I still have irregular mid-cycle bleeding. And I think this test can find any other uterine abnormalities that could be interfering with conception. Plus I can have it done at my doctor's office and not at some big downtown place right down the hall from the IVF clinic (where I had my HSG done way back when).
  • On October 1st, I'm meeting with a new doctor to get a second opinion. She has a relatively new practice in our area, is closer than my other doctor, and helped a friend of mine conceive after 6 years of trying. The friend said she's wonderful to work with, and I'm curious to see if she'd have any different suggestions for tests and treatments because I feel like things are running dry with my current doctor. (Much of that is my fault for dragging my feet on stuff she had recommended.) I figure one office visit can't hurt, and maybe we'll get some fresh ideas, or decide that she's easier to work with, or something.
And in non-medical related plans, I'm attending my first ever adoption information meeting tonight. Mr. M can't attend due to a scheduling conflict - boo. This agency is literally 5 minutes from our house. I have no idea what to expect, and no real expectations beyond getting a feel for who these people are and whether we want to talk with them one-on-one. At the least, it will be a nice distraction from the CD1 cramps and general yuckiness. Afterwards, I plan to come home and polish off the last beer in our fridge =)


Monday, September 16, 2013

One of those days

It’s Monday. It’s cloudy outside, which makes me feel lethargic and sad. And I’ve got a bad case of the baby blues…sometimes it just hits you, you know? Those days when it seems like every woman on the entire planet is pregnant or a mother, except for you?
This weekend we attended a wedding, which was beautiful. I sang in the choir and had a birds-eye view of the ceremony from the choir loft. The bride had the most gorgeous lacey train. So beautiful.
I love weddings, especially when I know both the bride and groom and know they’re prepared (as prepared as you can be!), in love, and the beauty of the sacrament is just there. But man, all the mention of children…I got teary-eyed several times. “Will you accept children lovingly from the Lord…?” I remember saying that at our wedding just filled with so much hope and excitement and anticipation for the children that God would give us. And here we are, still childless 2+ years later. Coming to the end of my 3rd Creighton chart (after a year of sympto-thermal charting). It stings a little bit.
Okay, a lot. I have a hard time watching our wedding video now, seeing the nervous exhilaration on our faces, knowing the dreams that were – are – so precious in my heart, for our love to be concretized in a new little person. I can’t watch the footage from our rehearsal dinner where our friends are teasing us about honeymoon babies (so pleasant at the time – now I can’t bear it – most of those friends are on to their second child by now).
And in so many of the prayers at the wedding: “Lord, please bless your servants with children…May they see their children’s children…” and so on. So beautiful. Because marriage is ordered toward children! It just is. Our bodies are ordered toward physical fruitfulness – and it really, really hurts when they don’t reach that destination. It hurts because it’s such a great good.
And of course now with weddings, it’s hard not to think, “One more person who got married after us and could get pregnant / have a baby before us…” I tried so hard to keep focusing on the bride and groom, praying for them, and yes, praying for them to be blessed with children and be spared the heartache of infertility. How could I wish that on anyone? And yet I know I’ll feel hurt and sad if I hear “news” from the happy couple soon…
So many mixed emotions.
So today, it just stings. Childlessness stings. My heart feels tender and vulnerable. I’m not up for pregnancy announcements or birth announcements. I deleted an email from a friend about her new baby nephew, without opening the picture…just can’t take it. (I did say congratulations to her, btw.) Because children are so good, and adorable, and everything wonderful, and sometimes it just stings.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

On living in the present moment

Another amazing passage from Fr. Philippe's book Interior Freedom. (Catholic Mutt, did you get to this part yet? =))

It's in the section called "The Present Moment." Here he discusses how living in the present moment is key to a life of interior freedom because, for one thing, we can only exercise freedom now, in this moment. (One of those "duh" principles that I forget so often - I find myself obsessing over past choices, as if I could change them, or projecting into the future what I "would" do in such and such a situation. Impossible.)

Some of my favorite lines from this section, and why I love them:

"We have very little hold on the future either. Despite all our foresight, plans, and promises, it takes very little to change everything completely. We can't program life in advance, but can only receive it moment by moment."

Amen. This strikes a chord because I want to program life in advance! I want the guarantee that the future will pan out the way I envision it, at least eventually *cough* baby *cough*...receiving each moment as it comes is a challenge. But when I really do it, it's so life-giving. I can take a deep breath, relax, and concentrate on this moment: right now I will love, right now I will accept, right now I will be with God. 

"The ladder of perfection has only one step: the step we take today."

I just love how he says that. Of course I hope for growth in my spiritual life, but regardless of where I've been or where I'm going, the only forward-motion I can make is today.

A quote from St. Therese of Lisieux: "I only suffer for one moment. It is because people think about the past and the future that they become discouraged and despair." Fr. Philippe's commentary: "Nobody has the capacity to suffer for ten or twenty years; but we have the grace to bear today the suffering that is ours now. Projecting things into the future crushes us - not experiencing suffering but anticipating it."

This is the home-run passage for me. The first time I read this (over a year ago) my eyes immediately filled with tears and I had to put the book down and just let these words enter my heart. Not experiencing suffering but anticipating it...yes, I had been doing just that! I've grieved not only the present lack of a child now, but also into the future (IF does that to you!). In my saddest moments, I'm sad not just because of everything I don't have now in terms of motherhood, but everything (so I tell myself) that I will never have - no first steps, no first birthday, no hearing "mama", no little hand in my hand, and on and on until I think I've suffered through the lack of every possible moment from the child's birth until their high school graduation!

Projecting things into the future crushes us...I think that is so true. I just don't know what the future holds for me. I just don't. Yes, I could be childless forever - but won't God give me the grace to bear that, day by day? It's exactly as Fr. Philippe says - no one can bear a 10 or 20 year dose of suffering all at once. And thank God, it doesn't come that way! I only suffer for one moment said St. Therese (during her final illness, by the way). Just in this moment I can bear the suffering of IF. I long for a child now and it hurts now and my heart aches now - but I don't need to anticipate all the other suffering that I'm sure is in my future. This passage had a huge impact on shifting my thinking in that regard.

"The best way to prepare for the future is to put our hearts into the present."

Short and sweet. I want to paint this on my walls, tattoo it on my arm, write it everywhere. When I feel like my life is going nowhere, or like I'm stalled in my tracks, I want to remember this. If I put my heart into the present moment, and really work to cultivate virtue and holiness now - to become more loving, more patient, more like Jesus, then if I become a mother someday, I'll be that much more prepared! And if I don't, well, is it really a loss to be more loving and patient? =)

The bottom line is, I only have today. I only have this moment. Jesus, free me from worrying about the future, and especially from suffering from things that haven't even happened yet. Help me to see You right here, right now. You catch all my tears, and you hold me when I cry. Help me to open my heart to what you are teaching me right now, even in this valley of tears.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Thoughts on adoption, part 2: being different

For the "processing thoughts by writing" file.

I wrote on Monday that one of my reasons for wanting to adopt an infant is to get the attention that's given to the mom of an infant, and how I think that's something that needs purified in me. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that adopting an infant is somehow wrong or selfish (not that I think anyone thought that). In my heart of hearts I would love to experience all the sweet infant moments with a child, whether biological or adopted. Who knows if I'll get the chance to do that?

Here's another way that I think adoption would purify me: it would free me from the need to be/seem the same as everyone else. What I mean is, the normal course for a married couple is to have children of their own. It's expected, it's common, it's natural, it's what happens to most people. In fact, it happens more than once to quite a lot of people. (That seems like such a magical "other world" to me - having not only one child, but more than one? Unfathomable.)

Adopting is not the normal course of events. It's different. It's rarer, more unusual. Not counting the adoptive moms I know online (who I am very grateful for!) I don't know any peers in real life who've adopted or are in the process of adopting. Mr. M's brother and SIL adopted (and then had quadruplets - they have seven kids now, crazy!) and I want to talk with my SIL next time we're visiting. And I have an aunt or uncle who adopted my cousin (and then had a biological child). But I don't know anyone at church, work, or in my immediate network of friends who's adopted, who's thinking about adopting, or who's in the process of adopting.

That makes the whole thing feel even more daunting. And it makes me feel like if we go down that path, we're going to stick out like a sore thumb. One day I'm not pregnant and the next, bam! we have a child. And maybe a child who looks nothing like us, or an older child.

I'll admit it - I'm scared of being different. On the one hand, I feel like I've grown a lot in being comfortable being different by having fertility issues. I've kind of grown into that, I guess, over the past two years, and I feel like I can be myself and not worry about what others are thinking re: our family size. On the other hand, I still keep our IF struggles quite hidden. Most of our close friends know, plus our immediate families, but lots of others don't, or at best, have guessed. Starting the adoption process, and getting to the point where we'll ask for help and/or give people a heads up that a child might appear in our home without me ever being pregnant - that's scary to me. It's scary to be different, to grow our family in a less usual way.

Sometimes I beg God just to be normal. Just to have the normal life of getting married and getting pregnant. Of having the mom struggles of sleepless nights and teething babies, instead of having anxiety over treatment options and a sense of failure at my body.

To be normal. I guess that's a pretty common desire, right?

But I know that's something that needs to be purified too. Last time I checked, Christ calls us to be saints, not to be "normal," whatever we take that to mean! I'm pretty sure by now that this IF journey - however long it lasts, and may it please be over soon - is part of my growth in holiness. How could it not be? At the least, I don't want to squander all these trials!

I'm probably worrying over nothing. If we do move toward adoption, we'd tell people slowly, and they'd get used to it, and probably would overwhelm us with their love and generosity. (Already two of our best friends offered to donate to our adoption fund.) And "being different" would probably start to feel normal, just as "being different," i.e. fertility challenged, has become its own normal, which is good and bad, I guess. (Bad because at the end of the day, it's not normal to not be able to conceive. Good because it brings a sense of peace and acceptance.)

I want to have this attitude: If my path is different, if my life looks really different than the others around me, so be it. I trust you, God, that you can make my life beautiful. Please help me not to idolize being normal and fitting in. Help me be brave to follow You, even if that is into a place where we feel alone.

Jesus, I trust in you.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Thoughts on adoption: oh, the admixture of self

I've been thinking about adoption lately, about every angle of it. I've read a few books that have been helpful, several about the logistics of adoption (what's a home study, how much does everything cost) and one about deeper issues, I guess you could say. (discernment of adoption, tips for raising an adopted child, etc.) And there are a lot of thoughts percolating up. Here's one.

One of the books I've read is by Dr. Ray Guarendi: "Adoption: Choosing it, living it, loving it." I thought it was really good, although not all of the sections applied to us. One thing he helped me to see is that adopting an older child (older than an infant) is doable. Because one thing that really scares me about adoption is that the child could have pretty severe "issues" that we couldn't deal with...and I have the impression that that's more possible when you adopt an older child.

Anyway, Dr. Ray had a lot of good advice, both personal and professional, that has encouraged me to rethink the question of adopting a toddler or older child. (More on that later, maybe.) But I realized something (thank you, Holy Spirit). Here goes a big slice of humble reason I want to adopt an infant is that I want the attention of being the mother of an infant! I've seen a lot of it in the people around me: the new mother gets meals taken to her, is the center of attention after mass, gets "oohs" and "aahs" and "what a tiny baby!" and is just celebrated all around. (As it should be! It's no easy feat to have a newborn in the house!)

"Ahem," says God. "Do you want to have a baby...just to get the extra attention?" Well, sheesh...when you put it that way!

"Admixture of self" indeed! Man, this whole IF experience is so darn purifying! God is progressively stripping away my selfish motives and re-orienting me toward Him. Toward what really matters. And something makes me think that what matters most is not showing off a brand new baby to the world...

Anyway, just some thoughts. More are percolating...