Co-existing with infertility

August 16, 2009

Sitting in the doctor’s office after my last miscarriage, Jack on one side of me, the doctor on the other, I felt as if I was part of an intervention. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jack said shaking his head and patting my hand. Dr. D nodded, In your life when you put your mind to something you’ve accomplished it, but in this matter there’s a lot that’s out of our control. She’s right. Since I was a child, the lessons imparted to me by my parents, teachers, society, was If you work hard enough you can achieve your dreams. And this was true, until now.

In the realm of infertility and pregnancy loss, I can take my Metformin to keep my insulin in check. I can pop the baby aspirin to thin my blood so it won’t strangle a future fetus. I can take the prenatals and make sure I’m eating a balanced baby friendly diet. I can try Clomid. IUI. IVF. I can jump on to lovenox after a positive pregnancy test. I can work as hard as I can and while I should keep my feet moving I have no control over whether any of this will work. This is hard to accept. Perhaps this is why I start sign hunting by checking my boobs, debating the degree of nausea and exhaustion during each two week wait. But sign hunting won’t give me the end result, its just a maddening way to waste two weeks (and in my case often longer) of your life.

Things such as sign hunting and the devastation that follows when you see blood made me think of stepping out of the baby making game for a while until I had my head in the right place emotionally. I told my therapist this thinking he’d agree because if anyone knows how much of a wreck IF has made me, it should be him. I was surprised when he disagreed. You’re in the game and I think you should keep moving, you need to learn to handle the challenges better but I don’t think you will take a time out. I think its an intellectual exercise to debate whether you should or not, you’re too deep in to step back. I think he’s right. I could never stop. The challenge for me is not taking some time off, but learning how to co-exist with my infertility. To walk side by side with this challenge and not let it wear me and turn me into a one dimensional person.

In an effort to co-exist with my IF I decided to focus on things in my control, so I can keep on moving on in this journey but not be paralyzed emotionally while I do so.

No more Sign Hunting. What do I get out of checking my boobs and gauging my levels of exhaustion? If I’m pregnant I am and I’ll find out soon enough. Some people say its good to have your hopes up and be positive. Maybe this works for some, but for me getting my hopes up means they are crushed in a bloody heap at the end of the cycle. Most people get that a miscarriage is sad, but most non-IFers don’t get that the end of a cycle that did not work is heartwrenching too. It is also a loss. I’m not sure how I’m going to succeed here but I’m not googling for signs and symptoms anymore and the goal is to firmly tell myself not to read into things when the urge strikes. If that means chanting a mantra you’re not pregnant, stop it! or Google is not a fortune teller. So be it.

Focus on the things I have control over like . . .

My fitness and nutrition. Exercising burns adrenaline and calms me but when I’m stressed or depressed the last thing I want to do is go for a run. My neighborhood is full of rolling hills and my plan is to stick on the iPod and power walk. I’m also considering yoga. With PCOS losing weight is challenging but its possible. Its time I took greater control.

My hobbies. I love to read. Scrapbook. Try new recipes. Write poetry (of questionable merit).  Instead of imploring Dr. Google to predict my future status of motherhood I will do things I enjoy.

My writing. Though my writing is technically a hobby at the moment since I’m not paid to do it, I have a finished manuscript that I’m revising one last time before submitting to agents. Since the miscarriage issues I’ve neglected it entirely. I need to update my query letters, and pursue this dream.

Reflecting. A dear friend reminded me how important it is  to take advantage of silence and down time to contemplate and reflect. When she first suggested this I wondered what I needed to reflect on or contemplate, but after a few days of plugging out for a few hours from TV, music, cell phone and internet and just taking a walk, or making dinner in silence I saw what she meant. The world comes into sharper focus. I realized its hard to really think clearly when you’re always plugged in. This act of taking time out for silence each day is helping me in ways I could never have anticipated from the simplest areas of appreciating things I never thought to appreciate such as the brilliant orange of a carrot I’m cutting for dinner, the sound of its crispness as I slice through it, the sweet flavor of homegrown tomatoes. Being plugged in, you can end up just doing things by rote and not realizing.  It’s not always easy to co-exist with silence because sometimes thoughts that are unpleasant that I’ve tried running from also make themselves known, but now at least I can begin tackling these thoughts instead of pushing them away, because the truth is, even if we don’t think about things and reflect, they are still there, poking us under the surface, stealing our peace of mind.

My Marriage. Its easy to take Jack for granted. He’s my best friend and he’s always there for me. While I’ve gotten better about dumping all my IF issues on him, I still can’t forget when he said he wanted his wife back. I hope as I try to flesh out the other parts of me that go beyond my desire for motherhood, Jack will see his wife returning. I cannot control all aspects of my marriage but I can control my end of things.

I hope by focusing on the areas of my life I have some measure of control over, I can take away the tunnel vision on IF that has taken over my life. I accept that no matter how much control I take over my life, IF sucks and failed cycles will always hurt, I just hope that I will bounce back faster and not allow IF to take over all of my life. The best I am praying for is it to co-exist with my infertility and not let it wear me as it has for two years.


  1. I’m someone else who was told that if only I worked hard enough I’d achieve my dreams. My parents still tell me that. I know they are trying to be supportive but it is hard when you work SO hard and your dreams are crushed. My dad even told me that he told someone “She’ll get pregnant until she brings home a healthy baby.” and I had to explain to him that no, this wasnt some goal…. It’s about a person. If this pregnancy ends with the loss of two more babies, I am done. I wont put another child through my body. And he was legitimately surprised. He was quiet for a moment before he said “So you’d give up on your dream?” When you’ve been told that all things are overcome with hardwork, it is hard when you feel like a failure. I know that is how I feel. But you are right. We have to focus on what we CAN impact and do everything we can in the name of that. We cant focus on the things we have no control over. One day and a time.

    Sending you big hugs.

  2. Amazing post. I lost myself and felt like I lost everything I cared about during our struggle. I gained weight. I avoided friends. I took Mr. M for granted. I wish you the best in all things – and for finding your way back to the things that you listed.

  3. These all sound really good. And how interesting that your psychologist advised you to stay in the game. I think that’s refreshing. Because it would have been kind of disingenuous for him to recommend getting out of the game – we can never truly be out of the game. And while I’m finally seeing the virtues of my forced break, I would never have taken one if it hadn’t been forced. I definitely relate to a lot of these because I’m in a similar situation – waiting to see what will happen, the veil of innocence removed. I’m seventeen steps back from a clean slate with more to worry about than I ever imagined possible. But you do have to keep moving. There’s no quitting in this game. Its part of life.

    Regarding the question you asked me about Dr. OBG (for some reason I can’t respond to comments in the comments on my own blog, hence me answering here) I am blindingly upset with her after The Conversation and the subsequent talk with my oncologist. I can’t even think about her without becoming disgusted. I hate her. And I have never and will continue to be unable to trust her. This is a bad bad situation and there is almost no reason not to get out of it, yesterday. But it’s complicated now thanks to my oncologist. One of the reasons he wasn’t worried about me starting to try again was because he knew that me and Dr. OBG would be on top of things if my HCG goes up. There will be no question of whether its a new pregnancy or GTD because we’ll look for doubling betas and do early u/s’s. He said “you and Dr. OBG” will be watching out for it and thus, he’s not worried. He also said “she’ll do whatever I say.” Which is true, she will. So Dr. GO is giving me advice that I can try again based on the assumption that I will be working with Dr. OBG. I don’t think it would be a huge deal if I switch to someone else in the group – I think I can still work with Dr. GO if something goes wrong, but the difficulty is when and how to do the swtich. Should I “use” dr. obg for blood tests and u/s’s until I am pregnant? Use her until I have a viable pregnancy? Or switch now? I have to stay in the group to continue with Dr. GO, so I have to worry that I will offend Dr. GO or the other doctors in the group if I do an internal switch. What if they all love her and are feeling protective? Right now I’m thinking that as soon as she suggests I come in for an u/s I’ll say “I’d love to, but I’d like to schedule that with Dr. X instead of you.” That would be a difficult conversation but I have GOT to get away from her. She is toxic. I’ll be thinking about it a lot in the coming months I think and will probably blog about it when I come to a decision. I just heard from a friend who uses her that this friend is convinced that Dr. OBG made her have an unnecessary c-section – after trying forcepts, vacuum, and the whole nine yards. The kid is fine, fortunately, but this friend’s father and sister, both OBGs said all my friend would have had to do to avoid a C section is to flip over onto all fours. Which my friend had wanted to do but Dr. OBG told her no.

  4. Great post – sounds like you have a lot of areas in your life to work on that ought to help you mentally and physically. Good for you for really thinking things through and deciding where you can effect positive change in your life.

  5. Yes. Yes a hundred times, yes. (Though I imagine I’ll always be addicted to sign-hunting and Dr. Google. I’m a reference librarian. Coming up with things to look up is What I Do.)

    I think if I lived in the same town with your therapist, I’d want his name. I know one of the reasons I’ve been resisting seeing someone is that I assume I wouldn’t like what they’d have to say… He sounds great. (And I can say that because I agree with him entirely!)

    Glad you have a plan for regaining the things that fill up your life in a good way. Thinking of you.

  6. Thanks for your kind words on my blog.

    I loved your post. It is such great advice too. I spent half my day googling HcG levels and trying to figure out my chances for a healthy baby. My SIL advised that I celebrate each milestone and relax about what comes next. I am going to try that and to focus on the things I can control.

  7. Hi TWW,
    since our adoption session had so many people in it we didn’t get more indepth on that part. I guess it’s not written on the list of requirements but it’s when you get over there and before a judge. They will sometimes make judgements based upon facial features. This is what the SW told us so I assume it’s true but don’t have any further details on it than that.

  8. Wow. Yes. I completely agree and understand. You have stated this in a way that is so clear and profound. Thank you so much for that and all the support you give. Big hugs.

  9. This is an amazing post! You’ve got just the right outlook! Make IF just one part of your life, not the biggest part!

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