Two Weeks of Pure Anxiety

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A friend of mine recently referenced the “dreaded two-week wait” as we walked down memory lane, discussing our time stuck in the vortex that is infertility.  You might think that people move on and forget when they finally get to the other side.  That the anxiety, the sadness, the struggle, and the frustration just fades into our memories as parenthood takes over.

It doesn’t.

You’re stuck with us, infertility sisters, like it or not.

Some of us will keep trying for more.  Some will find success easily the second time around.  Others won’t ever have another baby.  But whether we give up and move forward, convincing ourselves that we are happy with what we have, or keep on fighting until the bitter end, we will never forget all of you.

And we will never forget that feeling…that utter anxiety…that heartbreaking process…we will never lose touch with the two-week wait.

People have their own strategies for enduring the dreaded waiting period.  Some keep so busy that time seems to pass them by.  Others obsess about every possible symptom along the way.  And some of us (hopefully I wasn’t actually alone in this) spend entirely too much time Google searching “early pregnancy symptoms” – symptoms that we memorized months earlier.  Ok, years.  There, I said it.  Years.

Anticipatory anxiety is a killer.  I’m telling you, it doesn’t do anybody any good.  I know this.  I counsel people about this.  I help countless people to gain control over, and eventually let go of, their own anticipatory anxiety.  But when it came down to my own, which ate up two weeks out of every month of my life for nearly three years, I was at a loss.

I read.  A lot.

I ate dark chocolate M&M’s.  A lot.

I watched Ellen DeGeneres.  A lot.

But still, I worried.  I obsessed.  I checked.  I took seven bazillion pregnancy tests and was genuinely shocked each time I faced the single line.

I hoped against hope.  I prayed for the first time in years (possibly a decade).  That felt selfish and wrong, and yet I did it.  I wished on wishing stones over and over again.  That felt juvenile and a little bit silly, and yet it was the only thing that brought a sense of calm to my otherwise anxiety-ridden world.

And still, I failed.

Over time, I learned to let go.

I learned to get lost in my thoughts without letting my thoughts make me feel lost.

I learned to live in the present and appreciate that my husband was right there with me every second of every day.

And I learned to appreciate the little things:  The roses in my yard that made my little world feel sunny, the lattes from The Coffee Bean that always tasted the best, and the fog that made me feel at home despite an impossible distance from my family.

And just when I least expected it…my wait came to an end.

Thinking of all of you stuck in the vortex and hoping you find your moments of peace along the way.

Some of us might make it to the other side, but none of us ever leave the sisterhood.

As for those wishing stones?  I’ve passed those to my daughter…here’s hoping you will do the same one day soon.

Share Your Story: Pregnancy Envy

A couple of weeks ago, Lane shared her infertility story with us.  Today she shares what it feels like to long for number two while surrounded by pregnant moms every which way she turns.  Let’s all show Lane some much needed support today…

Pregnancy Envy

By Lane Gulotta

I had lots of meetings today. Four out of those five meetings were with Moms. Collaborating with Moms is one of my favorite things to do, except when they are pregnant. Meeting with Moms who are pregnant is distracting. I sit and stare at their expanding waistline trying to size it up and wonder if they are in their second or third trimester. I wonder if they are having a boy or girl. Single, twin or high order multiple pregnancy? Does her stomach look like a watermelon or a basketball? Throughout these distractions I smile approvingly and give appropriate congratulations.

After all, I am a Mom.

I am a Mom who has a beautiful and precocious 11 month old son. But, I am a Mom who wants more than that. I desperately want more children and that takes me back to something I never thought I would feel again: pregnancy envy.

It has finally struck again! Now that I know what I am missing, pregnancy envy is twice as strong this time around while we are trying to conceive (TTC for those of you who are new to this whole infertility thing). This envy is consuming me and causing me to lose sight of the fact that I already have a son. I should consider myself lucky, but I don’t. I am greedy and I want more children running around my house. I miss the newborn cry and reminisce for the time when I saw a first smile, heard a belly laugh or saw those adorable dimples.

Pregnancy envy makes me want all of this again. It makes me miss my swollen ankles and not being able to sleep on my stomach. It makes me miss wearing full panel maternity pants. (I finally admitted it! I am still convinced that none of my friends read our blog so this will be a true test of that.) I would give anything to look at the clock at 7:30 pm preparing for “morning sickness” to strike or wake up most of the night because my little one has the hiccups. Pregnancy envy makes me want every single symptom that I loathed while pregnant, even the unspeakable ones!

I am taking this month off of fertility treatments. After a very rough course of side effects and a near mental break down last month, I need a break to regain my composure, gather my emotions and come up with a battle plan.  I need to tuck the crazy lady away and come up with a practical plan to defeat her. Let’s be real; I need a break from Clomid and lots of Cabernet. This is no longer a game. We’ve upped the ante and are going to battle to win.

Come next month I will win. I will not waive a white flag!

Thank you once again, Lane.  You are not alone in this, and sharing your experience will help so many others.  Raising my glass of Cabernet!

Ask Dr. Marc: When to See a RE

Dear Dr. Marc,

I am trying anything right now, any thing to have a child. We have tried for what feels like eternity, and been tested. We have had blood work done, they say that’s normal, my husband has had his sperm count checked, and that came back normal. They say everything is normal……I am 28, my husband is 32…..but we both are losing hope, and I don’t want that!!!

We have tried diets, changes, exercise, and nothing is working. We have cut back on sweets, drinking, and bettered our diets…we have tried this for a year now.  I was on YAZ for 4 years before stopping. Last night we went and got a belly rub done, trying anything out there!

Is there anything else I am missing?

L.

 

Hi L,

First of all, don’t give up hope!  From the information provided, it sounds to me like you stand an excellent chance to conceive!  With that being said, it is probably time for you to take some specific steps towards your goal.

First, you should meet with a fertility specialist, otherwise known as a reproductive endocrinologist (“RE” for short).  To find a good one, you may want to ask your primary OB/GYN for a referral, or consult with friends, or look to Google and review practices in your area.  In addition, the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (www.SART.org) is an excellent resource to compare fertility doctors and review their success rates.

Once you meet with the RE, they will review the tests you have already had, and ask you and your partner about medical, environmental, pubertal and surgical history.  You should be sure to come prepared with all of your old records and a calendar of your past few menstrual cycles (including the day they began and ended). The doctor will likely want to evaluate factors such as your fallopian tubes, your uterus, the environment, ovulation timing and more.  If all of your tests come back as “normal” then you would be classified as having “unexplained infertility.”  This diagnosis is given to approximately 30% of couples with infertility.  While it is highly frustrating to not know the exact reason you are not conceiving, couples with unexplained infertility stand a very good chance of conceiving with fertility treatments.

On another note, it is wonderful that you and your husband are watching your diet and have started exercising.  These steps will certainly help you lead a healthier and longer life.  Unfortunately, things like diet and lifestyle change have less of an impact on fertility than many people would like to believe.  This is especially true when there if there is a physical impediment such as blocked fallopian tubes or uterine fibroids.  So while I encourage you to continue your healthy lifestyle choices, I caution you against waiting very long to see if they impact your fertility.  In general, it is better to be evaluated by a doctor and then make the decision on what your next step will be.

Good Luck,

Dr. Marc