Saturday, November 28, 2015

Coming Out of the Infertility Closet.... Again

Yep. We're going through infertility. Again.

Ryan and I have been trying to conceive for the past 6 months without success. It's been difficult. Not as much as the first time, but still really hard. We've even looked into adoption, as in called a bunch of agencies asking tons of questions, but found out it's so astronomically expensive that it won't be an option for us right now.

I know you don't get to pick what your hardships are in life, but I so wish it could be something else. Something not so important to me. Birth and babies are my big passion. I think about Audrey's birth all the time. I think about my next pregnancy and birth, and what I want to do differently all.the.time. I even made a part-time career out of my obsession interest! It feels especially cruel to have to go through this struggle again. Infertility is a special kind of hell; it can be a repeating cycle of intense grieving and hopeful optimism, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.

Usually in the beginning of a cycle, when I got my period, I was extremely depressed and angry. Because that was when we knew the attempt failed and my womb was not filled with new life but was empty. After about a week I would start to feel better and look forward to the current cycle. After insemination I would typically feel really excited and hopeful, even if I didn't want to. I tried so hard not to think about it, but it was always lurking in the back of my mind. The last few days before my period was expected were excruciatingly slow. Every time I used the bathroom I would hold my breath until I saw there was no blood. Sometimes I broke down and took pregnancy tests, which were always negative. But I knew that it might be too early for a positive so I wavered between still hopeful and pessimistic. After the first cycle I stopped taking my temperature daily after I confirmed ovulation because any little dip or rise would set me off on a whirlwind of emotion, whether I tried my best to ignore it or not. And then I would get my period and the cycle would continue.

I generally don't handle emotionally pain well; give me physical pain over emotional anytime! And this process is especially hard emotionally. So far I've been able to stay off anti-depressants but I know the worst part of the year is coming up so we will see how it goes.

I've tried SO MANY natural supplements, vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, you name it. I even tried Clomid, a fertility drug, for two cycles. And those of you that know me well know I would have to be really super desperate to try a pharmaceutical option. The Clomid "worked" to improve my cycle but I still didn't get pregnant.

One of the reasons why I haven't been able to conceive yet may be because I'm still nursing Audrey. Most women can get pregnant while breastfeeding, especially an older toddler. I really really wanted her to self wean. I didn't think she was emotionally ready to wean. I wasn't emotionally ready to wean. I was even looking forward to giving tandem nursing a try! But breastfeeding can affect your cycle, usually by causing delayed ovulation and a short luteal phase (the time between ovulation and your period is the luteal phase and it's thought that if this phase is too short an embryo can't implant in the uterine wall). This is what happened to me and what Clomid "fixed." (Clomid is compatible with nursing an older toddler, by the way).

I thought about waiting longer to try for another baby and see if she would wean in the meantime. But I've wanted to have another baby for so long, and if I have to choose I want another baby more than I want to keep nursing her.

See, this whole thing feels so selfish too. Like I'm putting my needs above Audrey's. I *know* 99.9% of 3 year olds in America aren't nursing and I *know* she will be fine and won't "remember" but a part of this still feels wrong and selfish to me. I feel somewhat comforted by the fact that she stopped nursing during the day about two months ago, on her own accord. So maybe she is "ready." But this is still so hard for me!

We know that our insemination timing has been spot on, thanks to my cycle charting. We've been doing IUIs (intra-uterine inseminations) at home, which is how we conceived Audrey. Even though I've spent hours researching IUIs and donor sperm insemination at home I still wonder if maybe we're missing something. So I've also decided to go see a great, naturally minded OB who specializes in fertility in January. I hesitated to go in because A) we did this successfully on our own before, and B) it's very expensive. We've already spent about $5,000 on trying to conceive so far, which is A LOT of money for us. I thank God that I have my business because that is what has paid for most of it. I honestly don't know how we're going to pay the possibly very high bills that come with seeing an OB on a regular basis, which may include tests, ultrasounds, and even minor surgery. My insurance covers nothing infertility related.

Right now, we are taking a break from trying. I thought it would be hard to stop but it's actually been really nice to take a break from "living in the cycle!" I was able to enjoy our much needed vacation in Florida, Audrey's birthday, and look forward to the holidays.

But sometimes I still get angry, depressed, and jealous. I don't always 'like' or comment on friend's posts on Facebook if they are pregnant or have a new baby. I sometimes dread teaching my class or going to visit my doula clients, which normally brings me only joy. So the reason for this post is to let everyone know if I seem to act weird or if I've disappeared on Facebook: it's not you, it's me. But also because many people don't share when they're going through infertility. I chose not to tell most people we were trying because I really wanted to surprise everyone with the news that I was pregnant. Since that hasn't happened and I consider us to be going through infertility again, I'm tired of hiding this secret. I'm tired of pretending that everything is all right when it's not. And I shouldn't have to hide because infertility is real, it's not shameful, and more people go through it than you might think. We are 1 of 8.