infertility

Suicide, Depression, and Triggers

The title should make it obvious but in case it’s not I’m going to be talking about suicide and depression so please skip this if you need.
I’m also going to mention pregnancy so if that’s a trigger you can skip this too.

Several bloggers I follow, both infertility bloggers and others, have posted about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide. Many have said far better than I the things I want to say so I’m going to keep this brief rather than cluttering everyone’s feeds with more talk of this subject.

I have a history of depression and suicidal thoughts as well as self-harming behaviors. I have never attempted suicide although I have been so close that I’ve been handcuffed and taken to the hospital against my will.

I have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes they are rare, sometimes they are frequent. They are not something I am in control of. They just are. When I tell this to people it scares them, they hear suicidal thoughts and think suicidal intent. For me, they are two very different things.

I currently have no intent or desire to hurt or kill myself, but lately I’ve had suicidal thoughts daily.

I have a great deal of guilt around being depressed while pregnant. I don’t want my depression to cause any harm to this baby, but it’s not something I’m entirely in control of. I have taken steps to manage my depression including medication and therapy with a social worker. The other night during a really difficult talk with my husband I sobbed into his arms swearing that I didn’t want to hurt myself or this baby and that I was scared they were going to lock me up again.

Since the death of Robin Williams I have had an extremely difficult time being on social media. Facebook has been the worst but Twitter and blogs have also proven triggering. I made the big mistake the other day of reading an article which included some details of the manner of death and the way he was found. I really wish I hadn’t because I can’t get the pictures out of my mind.

I’m choosing to practice self-care and stay away from these places as much as possible right now. I was already in a fragile state before this. I wanted to explain in more detail why I’ve been so absent. It’s just too hard right now. I’m sorry if I’ve missed important posts about things going on with everyone but I have to take care of myself first.

Think of it like infertiles unfollowing or muting those who become pregnant or even stepping away from the community altogether. We all have to put our own oxygen mask on first before we can help others. Right now I’m just trying to keep breathing.

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Giveaway!

I offered this up on Twitter but got no takers so now I offer it to all of you.

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Free to good home: 14 Wondfo Home Pregnancy Tests (HPTs) expiring 04/2015 and 44 Wondfo Ovulation Tests (OPKs) expiring 05/2015. These will go to the first person to email me. Email address is on the about page. Comments don’t count, I don’t want to compare time stamps. FREE! Someone take these and give them a good home (where you pee all over them!).

*edit* the tests have been sent to their new home, thanks for your enthusiasm!

Privileging Parents

I mentioned on Twitter today that I was feeling like the people in my “real life” community aren’t supporting me. And that it’s especially hard when I see them seemingly bending over backwards to support others. I think that feeling would be hard regardless, but it stings especially because I feel like it’s happening because we aren’t yet parents and most people don’t yet know about this pregnancy. Allow me to explain.

When I talk about my real life community, right now I am primarily speaking of the local military community. As some of you know I used to volunteer for my husband’s squadron. I’ve worked very hard to give support to the members of his squadron and their families. So it especially stings when I don’t get the same kind back. Again, we have received some support from some lovely friends and I am totally grateful to them. But they have been few and far between.

I know I have said that when my husband first had his surgery I posted on Facebook asking if people could provide meals. Two people did. Two. One of those people reads this blog and knew I was pregnant. The other actually found out I was pregnant around that time because she was giving away all her maternity clothes and I wanted them so I told her. Although she had offered a meal before she knew that.

Today I saw a meal train thing for a woman who I don’t know who had surgery. I don’t know anything about what kind of surgery or why she had it. Just that she had surgery, would be in the hospital for a few days after, and had a kid. And the meal train was full of people bringing meals for like weeks. Including people who are my friends on Facebook who didn’t offer me a meal. And I can’t help but wonder if the disparity has to do with her having a kid. Like, here I am a woman who isn’t working or in school right now and doesn’t have kids, what possible reason could I need help cooking while taking care of my invalid husband? Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to take care of someone after surgery? Even if I wasn’t pregnant it would be significant. The feminist in me also wonders if it had to do with the fact that it was a woman having surgery, not a man, but that’s another issue.

Among middle-class married people, and especially in the military community, being a parent is privileged. It just is. Events are catered to your needs. People drop everything to help you out. I have to be honest, it hurts when someone who used to be a friend who dropped me because she couldn’t handle my depression jumps at the chance to babysit a mutual friend’s kids while her husband has minor surgery. I’m glad someone is helping my friend but damn, she couldn’t even “help” me by staying my friend on Facebook?

This post is all over the place and probably not really making my point. But I’m sad. I feel like people here don’t like me anymore. (And don’t even get me started on the people here I grew up with.) There are people who I know would gladly be doing things to help me right now but they don’t live here anymore. The other day I was having really bad back pain and having trouble just standing up. We didn’t have anything prepared for dinner. I asked for help on Facebook and the only response I got was from someone three states away wishing she was here to help. She is also someone who now knows I’m pregnant (pretty much all our close friends know now). The people who are here ignore us like we don’t need help. I can’t help but ask myself, is it because we aren’t parents?

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Genetics

This is a really important post that I’ve been putting off for a while. You see, around the same time that we found out I was pregnant, in fact the same day that I had the bleeding and went to the ER, I found out some major information from my dad. According to him, I have an inverted 9th chromosome. This was something my parents learned during the amniocentesis when my mom was pregnant with me and never told me until now. In fact, from what my father said, my mother didn’t/doesn’t want me to know and I’m not supposed to tell her that he told me. Without getting into the whole long story of my family and secrets like this, it’s pretty fucked up.

Mind you, this is something my nearly 80 year old father told me that they learned more than 32 years ago, so it’s possible he’s in some way mistaken. But, BUT, whatever you can say about my dad’s short-term memory lately, his long-term memory is on point. I really have no reason to disbelieve him.

I did some quick and dirty Google searching and from what I learned inv9 is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities and is generally considered benign. However, some studies have linked it to infertility and miscarriage. And I read a couple scary stories about multiple miscarriage from people with inv9 on message boards. So, you know, this should at the bare minimum be something they told me when I started all the fertility testing (that they totally knew about) and was asking questions about family history.

Obviously I’ve been rather hyper-focused on this pregnancy and because of that I haven’t been thinking a whole lot about this. But when the genetic counselor started talking to us at the OB orientation I got nervous. I checked the box on the form saying I wanted to talk to a genetic counselor but haven’t heard back. So we are starting with the low-level blood testing for possible genetic issues and we’ll go from there.

My feelings about this are really complicated. I’m (obviously?) pissed at my parents for not sharing this information sooner. Especially my mom if she truly told my dad she didn’t want me to know (from what he said they first had this conversation at a point in their marriage shortly before they were separated for a couple of years so it was a difficult, contentious time for them). It also makes me nervous about this pregnancy and any other possible future pregnancies. Anything that increases chance of miscarriage is no good for my peace of mind. I’m relieved to know now but wish I could have found out sooner when I wasn’t pregnant and testing to confirm would have been simpler. But nothing I can do about all that now. So we go forward. I’ll let y’all know if I found out any more info about me personally or this pregnancy or inv9 in general.

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Pregnancy After Loss

I owe you all easily a dozen or so posts. Sorry. I’ll catch up at some point. I just haven’t felt much like sitting in front of my computer lately. Probably because my office is a terrible mess and being in here makes me feel guilty. But I digress. I wanted to talk a bit about my experience with being pregnant after a loss and the seriously amazeballs midwife I saw today. This is going to be a pregnancy-heavy post so skip it if you need.

For some people, namely my husband and my mother-in-law, it has seemed like ever since we were confident that this pregnancy was in the uterus and especially since we saw a heartbeat that they are absolutely certain that this is a pregnancy that will end in a take home baby. I’m not that certain. I have hope. I have a lot of hope and it increases every day. But I’m still scared. Even though I’ve only had the one loss and we are like ten steps further than we ever got with that pregnancy, I’m still scared. Leading up to my appointment today it had been three weeks since I last had an ultrasound and I was scared of a missed miscarriage. I had no logical reason for that fear. I still have all the symptoms (they come and go but some are here daily). The statistics at this point are in my favor. But I’ve known too many people who have lived in those tiny, scary statistics to count on something like that.

So I’ve been anxious, worried, stressed. My husband doesn’t get it. He’s so sure everything is okay this time. And it has been. But my fears are there.

Today I had my first regular OB appointment. The orientation a couple weeks ago was mostly paperwork and and overview of the process. I met with one of the midwives and she was fucking fantastic. I can’t even explain to you how great she was. She totally understood that I was scared without me even having to say anything. Well, I did fill out a form that mentioned that I’d had a lot of anxiety lately. She had clearly reviewed my chart and knew all about the ectopic. She was so comforting with everything she said. She not only acknowledged that I had the fear, but that having it was normal and okay.

I wasn’t due for a formal ultrasound today but one of the first things she said was that I wasn’t leaving without first seeing the baby and/or hearing the heartbeat. So I had my first external ultrasound. Blobby was moving all over the place, which was so amazing to see. The movement meant it took a bit for her to finally get the heartbeat but I eventually got to see and hear it. She didn’t do any measurements but just seeing Blobby moving like that made everything okay. When she was having trouble getting the heartbeat she kept telling me that the baby wouldn’t be moving like that without a heartbeat. Just so comforting.

Other things that were amazing: There are apparently social workers at the hospital who only see pregnant women. She put in a referral for me to see one of them, so now I have a chance to talk to a professional about this all and process all the fears with him/her. I’ll call tomorrow and set up my first appointment. The midwife also said told me not to be a hero, if the depression gets really bad that it’s safe to go back on Zoloft. I feel okay right now but we’ll see what happens when my husband goes back to work and I’m still routine-less. Then she set up the referral for my anatomy scan to be with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk) clinic instead of radiology. She didn’t say why but I’m pretty sure it’s because they have more experience dealing with extremely anxious pregnant woman during those scans. She asked about past physical or sexual abuse and when I briefly told her about my ex she told me not to minimize it, that it was abuse. That was important to hear. I also had to have a pap smear today and she kept reminding me that a little spotting after would be totally normal and okay, but luckily I didn’t even have any spotting. We talked about genetic testing and she told me I won’t hear anything until the second set of blood work is taken and not to focus on and stress about it in the meantime, which I would so do. Just a little nudge that there’s nothing I can do and it’s okay to let it go during that time.

Finally, they have this thing called “Centering” where you meet up for your appointments with a group of women all due during the same month. So you have some private time but it’s also a group conversation and classes about pregnancy and birth and stuff. And they just started having a group meet at the military base that’s closest to my house rather than this main hospital. I’d still be giving birth at the main hospital, but all these appointments (except the anatomy scan) are much closer to my house. I think it will be good for me to have other pregnant women to bond with, even if I’m a bit scared that they will all be young and fertile. And the midwife got me into a slot in the group by my house, so yay. That starts in like 3 weeks.

I can’t explain in words how validating it was to have someone just get how scared I am, without me even really saying so. I never thought that someone outside of the RE’s office would understand like that. She was a little miracle. It’s too bad I can’t request specific people when I go into labor and they are cutting the hours of the midwives in L&D. But that’s okay, just having her today was enough to make a huge difference. I am eternally grateful to the Universe not only for this pregnancy (oh so very grateful for that) but for the little things like this appointment. I feel so incredibly lucky, more than I could ever say.

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Blobby

I’m just going to get this out of the way from the start. I am six weeks pregnant. Actually six weeks + three days going by my last period.

I haven’t written about it here for a few reasons. The biggest being that we were waiting until we told our families. A couple family members know about the blog and it would be irresponsible and frankly cruel for them to find out here. I’ve also been stupid busy. I graduated this past weekend. My mother-in-law was in town staying with us and one of my aunts is in town staying with my parents. I have had very little down time to sit and write (or read, still catching up).

I have about a million feelings about this pregnancy. I actually ended up in the ER a couple days after the first positive test. I was having a lot of cramping and that morning I started spotting a little. The symptoms were so similar to the ectopic that I freaked out and went in to the ER because the RE clinic wasn’t returning my calls. But it was crazy early (I was something like 3w3d) and so the ER really couldn’t tell us much. The RE clinic, when I finally got them on the phone that night, said it was probably implantation.

I’ve had two ultrasounds now and we know there is a pregnancy in the uterus. The first doctor was still concerned about the possibility of a second pregnancy in the tubes, but the second doctor was not. However the second doctor was awful so her lack of concern wasn’t exactly comforting.

The main things I am feeling are: overjoyed, guilty, and terrified. They are all probably self-explanatory but I’ll break them down for you anyway.

Overjoyed. Duh. I’m pregnant. We know it’s in the uterus, not the tubes. At our ultrasound next week we should get to see/hear a heartbeat. Our family is, for the most part, really happy for us. My mother-in-law’s joy and optimism were contagious while she was here. My husband is so freaking thrilled he wants to tell way more people than I’m prepared to tell yet. He has christened the embryo “Blobby” after I tried to explain what the yolk sac looked like after the first ultrasound. We are so much further than we ever got last summer, it’s hard not to feel hopeful that this good luck will continue.

Guilty. I think most of the women in the infertility community who I know who have gotten pregnant have dealt with guilt for the pregnancy alone. I’m feeling extra guilt on top because this was relatively so easy for us. We just used Femara and did timed intercourse. I feel so incredibly lucky. I won’t even get into how lucky I am about the money part too. It’s so hard to see so many amazing, deserving women and men in the community who are having no luck at all. Every canceled cycle, failed treatment, or god-forbid loss breaks my heart. I’m at a loss for what to say to people. How do I say my heart is breaking for them and have it be sincere when I know that I have inside me right now what they want more than anything? People keep telling me not to feel guilty. And I get it (aside from the whole don’t tell me how to feel thing), but that doesn’t change anything. I know people are happy for me and wishing me good things as I have done with so many others. I just wish I could take whatever magical unicorn dust got me here and spread it around.

Terrified. Like I said, we are so much further along than we ever got a chance to be last summer. But it’s still early. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was telling my mother-in-law that one of the difficult things about this community is that I have heard so many stories of loss. It’s hard to feel confident in any pregnancy when I know how easily it can all be taken away. My hope increases every day but I really do have to take this thing one day at at time.

The other big issue has been the pregnancy side-effects (symptoms doesn’t seem right when I know for sure I’m pregnant). I have been having a really difficult time with “morning sickness” that has been more like all-day sickness. I haven’t actually vomited, thankfully, but I feel nauseous all day long. It’s exhausting. I had no idea it would be this hard. Which sounds naive and crazy, maybe. But damn. I’ll still take this over not being pregnant in a heartbeat. And people keep pointing out that it’s a good sign. I refuse to complain about it on Twitter because I know how hard that is to hear. So my husband bears the brunt of my pain and whining.

The internship I was hoping to do this summer isn’t going to work out in the way I had hoped because of the pregnancy but they are still trying to find ways for me to come into the studio and be around my fellow artists and such, so I greatly appreciate that. My husband is having surgery on his foot next week so I’ll be highly distracted by taking care of him for a while too.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about this blog. I want to keep blogging but it feels weird blogging under this name while pregnant and even weirder if I become a parent. So chances are I will start another blog in a few weeks where I will blog about pregnancy, birth, and parenting after infertility. I will absolutely not forget where I came from. Said blog will also likely be more personal, with names and photos. It will also probably be something I’ll share with friends and family, so less raw honesty. When I set it up I will let you all know so you can decide if you want to follow me there. I fully expect most of you won’t and that is totally okay. I get it. In the meantime here is my promise to you. When it comes to this blog I will never post: ultrasound photos, bump photos, pics of any sort of baby items, or lengthy complaints about side-effects. I’m also not going to post the whole weekly breakdown thing, because honestly, nobody really cares about that stuff. I will talk about the pregnancy. I probably won’t post very often. And I will absolutely keep reading and commenting and thinking of all of you.

Unicorn dust for everyone!

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Mothers

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the US. And despite my feelings about the holiday as an infertile, I’m keep thinking how lucky I am when it comes to my own mom. My mom isn’t perfect, of course, but she is loving and supportive and she tries really hard. It breaks my heart to see so many others in this community who either have lost their moms, have extremely difficult relationships with their moms unrelated to infertility, or who don’t have the support of their moms that they need in this journey. It sucks. I wish I could share my mommy with you all. Honestly even with my infertility itself I often feel I am a super lucky one here. I read about you all experiencing fraught relationships with family, friends, co-workers and it just hasn’t been my experience. Of course I could also get into the whole woe is me story about my lack of close friends to begin with, but that’s not the point here. Anyway, I’m lucky. I thought in honor of the holiday tomorrow I would share an email message my mom sent me and my sister last year that still makes me tear up. I don’t know what I did to deserve this kind of love.

Before Mothers Day, with its tributes to all varieties of mothers — birth, adoptive, mothers-in-law, mentor mothers, foster mothers, and so on, fades too much into the haze of everyday life, I want to write a special message to my wonderful, beautiful, accomplished daughters.  This is hard to write and won’t say perfectly what I want to say but it comes from the heart with lots of love.

It is my daughters who have taught and continue to teach me how to be a mother.  I gave birth to you, but you have taught me about unconditional love and what it takes to be a mother.  You have shown me that it’s okay to not be perfect.  That a person can make mistakes and still be loved.  That “breaking the rules” doesn’t need to break a relationship and that some rules shouldn’t be rules at all.  You bring joy and smiles to my life just by being yourselves.   Every opportunity to see you, talk with you, read a message from you lifts my heart.  Seeing how you spread caring and support around you makes me proud and happy.

Thank you for being my loving and loved daughters.

Mom

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