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Being Selective

I have no room in my life for people who make me feel bad. I’ve had friends in the past that have said, “I have recently cut off people from my life who are negative and who torture me or make me feel bad.” I would always nod in understanding while in the back of my mind I would think ‘Man, they must have a lot of drama in their life to have friends who would behave that way.’ Now, I am in a position of the same caliber, but for different reasons. I have been blessed to have some really great friends who are supportive, understanding, and are there for me when I need it most. That said, I also have had friends that were more like acquaintances and we slowly drifted further and further apart, neither of us being committed enough in the friendship to call and get together anymore. It is a natural progression of life and it is completely fine with me if I can eventually weed out people from my life to narrow down to the most important, most respondent, most connected friends.

It wasn’t until recently that anyone had blatantly hurt my feelings and caused me to consciously decide to disconnect my relationship with them. When dark times befall you, for whatever reason, you find out who your true friends are. As someone struggling with the idea of being childless, I never wanted any of my friends to be afraid to let me be a part of their childful lives. I have been so grateful to my closest friends, all of whom have recently had babies, for including me in as much of their joy as possible. Rather than being afraid it would only upset me and make me sad, they have made me feel an important role in supporting them. I have been allowed to help with baby shower planning, given updates of the birth, invited to come and hold the baby, even given the nickname “aunt”!

When a close friend who is also expecting was not calling anymore, I figured our time together was coming to an end. I knew that our husbands were close friends and probably always would be, but I am familiar with the signs of “girlfriend breakup”. We will be moving away, out of state, soon and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to weed out anyone who didn’t want to stay connected after we moved away. We would only stay in close contact with the individuals who took the same time and effort they we do to stay in touch. However, this all came to a shocking, sudden halt when I was not invited to this particular friend’s baby shower. The hurt I felt was so strong and upsetting, I just couldn’t understand it. Had I done or said something that would cause this reaction? Maybe, but not that I can easily pinpoint. Was she afraid that the baby themed party would send me into a fit of hysterical crying and ruin her good time? I don’t know, but not likely. I knew we were slowly growing apart, leading our own busy lives, but to deliberately not invite me to a gathering of close friends and family? There have been many many times over the years when I have been there for her most darkest hours. It is a clear message for sure. I guess I should be grateful I don’t have to buy a gift and figure she just didn’t want whatever gift I had to offer.

I am writing about this today to hopefully help people understand what it feels like for childless women are shut out of people’s lives rather than included in them. I am writing this because I now know what it is like to have to shut out a negative person from your life. I choose to shut out anyone who makes me feel so awful because I want to focus my attention on the crowds that make me feel so happy. It is not worth my time and energy to focus on the negative feelings and hurtful response of just one individual.  I am pleased to have such good friends and so many who are understanding of my peculiar situation. As adults, it is our right to be selective of who we choose to spend our time with.

*Sigh* oh well, just two more weeks until the big move.

 In case anyone was curious about the hormone treatment:

It has now been over two months since I started the hormone replacement therapy. I take estrogen daily and progesterone on days 1-12 of each month. I have not noticed any significant change in my skin (darn it), but my weight had kept steady (yeah!). Until taking this hormone medication I had not had a menstruation cycle for more than 9 months. I have now had two regular cycles since. From a medical perspective I do not know if this means I have been ovulating normally, but personally I think it shows promise. I would like to stress again that Matt and I are not particularly eager to have a baby right away, but that it would be nice to know it was possible. Now when people ask “when are you two gonna. . .” or “is there any sign of a . . .any time soon?” I just simply reply, “Now that would be a miracle.”

A new start

Summer babies are being born or getting ready to enter the world soon. A new start for new parents and a new start for us as well. This year has been hard on us for many reasons but it feels that we may finally be getting back on track. I am going back to teaching this year at the school I never wanted to leave. We are hoping that moving away from our hometown and back to the big city will give us a fresh start and more opportunities. Our goals for being more settled, Matt’s career hopefully taking a turn for the better, and my career taking off again will put us in a more secure state of mind.

It won’t be easy and there are still a lot more “hopefully” s than I like to have in my future plans, but we remain optimistic. Talk to me in 6 months when we are either looking for a house, or flat broke and begging on the streets. Either way, at least I’ll have felt that we are moving on. It does bring me comfort to know that I don’t have to plan on any unexpected babies, as we have always been careful to think of in the past. There is a certain freedom to think, “Well, if we are poor, than we are poor. We have no one to answer to but ourselves.”

I have been fortunate enough to see friends and relatives around me start their new lives as parents and it is an amazing transformation. There is something so selfless, spiritual, and uplifting about seeing people close to you become parents for the first time. I might call it pure craziness, because if anyone knew how exhausting and draining being a parent can be, no one would ever have children. And yet we all want it, and do it, and don’t regret it.

I have evolved in these last months, even since my last entry. I would not have called myself “bitter” toward women who get to experience pregnancy and childbirth when I have not, may not ever. I would say that I’ve experienced pain, and mourning, and an eagerness for my life to have some significance. Now I am at peace with my destiny. If I am destined to become a mother, it will be so, when it will be so. I cannot change or fight it, and I certainly won’t put strain on my marriage because of it. Really, there is no need to think of it until we would be ready anyway.

For now, it simply gives me peace of mind to see the struggles of parenthood that I don’t yet have to face. The screaming, messy, stinky bundles of continuous energy. The sleepless nights of worry and  the days of exhausting repetition. The expense, the time, the concerns, the schedules, all revolving around the little one.

To those I know who are about to experience it all: Enjoy every second of it, soak it in, love it all.

Last Post cont. . .

As I read through my last post  again and I  wanted to add a few more comments. While I am feeling my situation is depressing, I myself am resilient. I have support from so many good friends, and I want them to know that I have not lost hope.

In my last post: I relayed the history of my marriage in terms of when we thought the appropriate time to have children would be. We put off thinking about the subject until we felt we were in the next phase (and the next phase, and the next phase) not just because we thought we weren’t ready, but because each phase was in-itself a step toward being ready. The hardest part about infertility was not that we had been putting it off, but that we had spent all these years working toward it. To be at this point in our lives, and find out that we may never have our own children, it is hard not to feel like: What was the point of all of this? What is the purpose of my life now? I worked so hard for something that may not be possible anyway! So I am in a new transition point where I need to find another purpose to my life that may or may not include raising children. I know a lot of other women facing infertility are feeling this way and I have found some links that I would like to share.

My local news station recently put out a story about infertility: http://studio5.ksl.com/?nid=54&sid=10736966

USA today has an article about POI, which happens to be my condition specifically: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-05-10-OVARIAN10_ST_N.htm

Happy Mother’s/Women’s Day

I have been taking a break from blogging due to “distracting yourself from sadness” plan. I have been in a community play, working on art projects for friends, and seeking employment which has worked wonderfully at distracting my mind from any thoughts of self-pity.  My current situation personally, financially, and professionally has caused me to reflect on why I can’t shake the constant feelings of despair. This is what I have come up with:

To explain in-depth I must take you back to the beginning of my marriage, 5.5 years ago. My husband and I were young, some might say too young, to be married but we had been dating for 5.5 years previously and knew we were right for each other. We were unsure of our future plans but a few things were certain. We both agreed that we wanted to have children eventually, but we both agreed it was not to be any time soon. We both agreed we did not want to continue to reside in our home state for any longer than necessary to finish school for several reasons. When we do have children, we both agreed that I would be a stay-at-home mom to raise the children and he would work (in what, I’m still not sure) to support us. I knew what I wanted to do professionally, and he did not, so we also agreed that I would be going to school first while he would work full-time to support us both. At that time in our lives we were both saying “not yet, not yet, we just aren’t ready to have any children” because I wanted to finish school to be a teacher. Also, at 21 he was not yet a fully matured male and the word “babies” sent him into coughing and choking fits.

Four years later, I graduated school to become and elementary school teacher. At that time I was thinking, Okay, it’s Matt’s turn to go to school and figure out his professional ambitions so that he can  support a family the way we always agreed. If I were to get pregnant now, at least I have finished school. But I would not be able to stay at home, so I am certainly not going to try to make that happen yet.  I had the implant birth control put into my arm (which was to last up to 3 years or less) and off we went, out-of-state, to persue his dreams as he went to a vocational school. I taught Kindergarten for a year while he finished school.

Again, we were faced with another cross roads in our marriage. We made the mistake of going back (yes back) to the state, no city, NO HOUSE, we came from. The very place we both agreed we didn’t want to live. The reasoning then was that we would live in my parents new house, save a ton of money by both working full-time for the first time in our marriage, and save to buy a house and move anywhere in the country we wished. I’m sure you can already see flaws in our plan. One, we are living in my parent’s house and two, I would be working full-time. Both are good reasons why we still could not possibly be “ready” to think about having any babies.

The plan flopped. In all of the years of planning, working, struggling, saving, inching our way forward step-by-step, we have ended up in a place far in the opposite direction of our ultimate goal. Neither my husband, nor I, could find decent full-time work to save any kind of money. Financially, professionally, and personally, we are worse off. Imagine, then, the disappointment I felt when finding out that I have a condition that limits my chances and abilities to conceive. All those years of saying, “Not yet, not yet, just one more step forward and I’ll be ready!” only to find out that I’m only ready when Heavenly Father and Mother Earth deem me worthy. It crushes my soul to think that I couldn’t have a baby, and I’m still “not ready”. To conclude my story: I have never experienced a time of despair as I have these last months for so many reasons. For the life of rewards I thought I’d earned. For the loneliness and uselessness I feel for not being able to contribute to my family the way I felt I was born to.

People keep telling me, “God has a plan for you.” As if I blame God. I am versed enough in the spiritual world to not shake my fist at God at a time like this. I know, for whatever reason, my Heavenly Father and Mother will give me trials and I just have faith that they come with rewards. All I can hope for is to keep living.

I realized just the other day that I am not “baby hungry” as most women have described their own need to have children. I got choked up when watching a pair of proud parents watch their high school age daughter in a play because I longed for that too. I don’t just long for a baby to give birth to, carry, feed, and coo at. I long for the chance to raise children, watch them grow, take pride in their accomplishments, empathize with their trials, and need me as I have always needed my mother. 

If you are a mother, go home and hug your children one long time just for me. Happy Mother’s Day

Pleasantly Distracted

I’ve always thought that being distracted when you’re depressed can only be a temporary hold on your feelings and will ultimately catch up to you in the end. Whether it is or it isn’t, being distracted has helped me cope with anything I was feeling a month ago. Now that the prognosis is not altogether hopeless, I find it much easier to focus on other aspects of my life and leave the worrying for later. I have kept very busy and allow myself little down time to reflect on my own thoughts.

I have engaged in activities I haven’t participated in since high school. Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing illegal, I’ve been in a play at a community theater. I’m sure my friends and family think it to be all I can talk or think about. . . and maybe it is. It has kept me from thinking about the depressing situation I currently find myself in. On top of the medical concerns, the battle with our insurance, and my uncertain future, my husband and I seemed to be trapped in the adolescent state of dependency. Like many other couples of our generation we find ourselves living with my parents and barely scraping by. The economy was in a complete downfall where we moved back from, but we find that it is not much better here.  We are faced with decisions of where to go next, how to go about looking for work, how to support ourselves, and will we have anything left in savings to build from?

So without becoming overwhelmed with problems and obstacles, we dive head-first into commitments and activities that will make us happy. If there isn’t much we can do about our lives as it stands now, the only thing left to do is hang on and ride the wave until it hopefully settles into a calm that we can live with. I should be thanking God that we could not bring a child into the world if we wanted to, because we would have enough trouble keeping ourselves afloat. That’s not to say, of course, that if it just “happened” by some random act of nature, we both wouldn’t do everything we could to make it work.

I will say this: After coming out to our friends and family with this journal and the news of our recent hardships, we have had an amazing flood of support and love that we never expected. It has made me feel extremely relieved to have it all out in the open and to see how people closest to us have made us feel that we are not alone.

If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll already know I’ve admitted to being a Dr.Laura listener. Alright, alright, I know that could get me some flack from people for that confession. I am conservative when it comes to my own values and beliefs about families, raising children, parenthood, marriage, but around my neighborhood I could be considered quite liberal.  I will not be delving further into the debatable issues today.

To continue with my point, I was listening to Dr. Laura yesterday and happened upon a very appropriate and eye-opening call. A woman was calling because she was unhappy. Her husband and herself had discussed children before they were married and both wanted a couple or a few. But after her first child was born, her husband changed his mind and doesn’t want any more. She was upset about this because while she loves her son, she has always wanted more. Dr. Laura opened the discussion by commenting, “Do you know how many infertile women out there today would gladly trade places with you in an instant?” Basically, her advice was to quit “bitching” and be happy with what you have.

I’ll admit that I sort of felt sorry for the caller. If she wants more children, why did the husband just get to change his mind all of a sudden and decide for the both of them? But as Dr. Laura pointed out, many of us women who cannot get pregnant or who have little chance of getting pregnant, would do almost anything just for the opportunity for one. It is a true lesson in finding happiness with what you have been dealt in life. There are many things we find we cannot control. When that happens, looking for the unique, the positive, the blessing, the sliver of light that can be our chance for fulfillment.

Matt and I have often toyed with the idea of what our lives would be like without children. Looking on the bright side, it would be peaceful and responsibility free (or that’s how it can be perceived). I once looked in a small homes magazine and picked out this great mountain cabin that I LOVED. It had a small sitting area, kitchen, dining area, and a loft for the bedroom. The whole place was lit up with natural light from the tall ceiling capped with never-ending skylights. It was a tiny, gorgeous  house. Matt and I daydreamed that if we couldn’t have children, we’d save all our money and build a quaint little house like that. We could live anywhere we wanted.  We’d both be working, and the only thing to do with the money is travel, play, explore, buy toys, and invest for a lovely retirement. Sounds perfect? Not quite. Of course, raising children still seems ideal for my future, but if not? I think I could be happy.

Good news in a sea of worries.

Why does it seem when money is tight, work is scarce, things are at their worse, everything seems to fall apart at once? That is what it has been like these last few months. My husband is making the bare minimum in monthly income at his job anyway, but then the insurance kicked in and his paychecks where almost cut in half. We have been living with my parents to get our feet on the ground, but the outlook has been bleak. On top of everything, the insurance is claiming they won’t cover all the doctor’s visits and lab tests done on me recently due to  a “pre-existing condition”. That leaves us with a $1000+ bill that we couldn’t possibly pay. We will be fighting with the insurance company for sure, but it is definitely added stress we don’t need.

Needless to say, both my husband and I have been bad company during these depressing times. With all of these worries going on, it was a bright shining ray of hope when I got the test results back from the blood work taken at the Fertility Clinic. My premature ovarian failure is NOT a chromosomal condition, which is amazingly good news! It means that my condition was not caused by fragile X syndrome or other genetic abnormalities. So, if I was to ever try to get pregnant, I could use my own eggs. There is still a smaller chance of getting pregnant on my own, but if I stick to the hormone therapy that was prescribed to me by my doctor, I at least have a plan of action.

Now,the next obstacle is getting all those other problems turned around. Finding work, a place to live, and hopefully the rest will follow.

Premature Ovarian Failure is. . .

I’m feeling pretty good about yesterdays adventure to the doctor. I’m grateful there is a name to call what I have. I always knew the chances of getting pregnant where lower for me, so this diagnosis doesn’t change that. “So you’re saying there’s a chance!” -Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber.

This is the information sent to me today by my doctor. I’ve taken out the bits and pieces most relevant for those who would like to know EXACTLY what this diagnosis entails:

PREMATURE OVARIAN FAILURE OVERVIEW — Premature ovarian failure (POF) is a condition in which the ovaries stop functioning normally in women who are younger than 40. The condition used to be called “premature menopause,” but that term is misleading, because women with premature ovarian failure do not always stop menstruating, and their ovaries do not always completely shut down [1]. That’s important to keep in mind, because the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure does not always mean that pregnancy is impossible. What’s more, the condition does not imply that a woman is aging prematurely. It simply means that her ovaries are faltering. Another term used for POF is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). This term is likely to replace the term POF in the near future.

Given these effects, premature ovarian failure makes pregnancy unlikely. Learning of this can be emotionally devastating to some women, especially if they have not had children or want more children. For them, the diagnosis squelches dreams of motherhood. Take time, too, to honor your feelings of grief and loss. Being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure can be a life-changing experience [2]. It is natural to feel down, but be mindful of depression. You may even want to seek out counseling or to participate in a support group for women with premature ovarian failure. If you have a partner, remember that he or she may also be affected by your diagnosis, so it might be useful to find support for the two of you.

PREMATURE OVARIAN FAILURE CAUSES — In the vast majority of cases, healthcare providers do not know why premature ovarian failure occurs. Some cases of the condition can be explained by genetic abnormalities, exposure to toxins, or autoimmune disorders, but most cases are “idiopathic,” meaning they have no known cause [3]. Even so, it’s important for women to be tested for the known causes of premature ovarian failure. Some of the known causes may be associated with other effects on your health or the health of your family members.

PREMATURE OVARIAN FAILURE TREATMENT
Estrogen replacement- Most experts agree, in general, that young women with premature ovarian failure should use hormone therapy at least until they turn 50.

Infertility treatment — As noted above, between 5 and 10 percent of women with POF are able to conceive and give birth normally without any special treatment. Treatment with estrogen, fertility drugs, or other hormones, has not been shown to improve fertility.

SUMMARY
* Being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure can be emotionally trying. Women with the disorder may need time to grieve and adjust to the diagnosis, and there are resources that can help them do that.
* Women with premature ovarian failure should consider taking estrogen-progestin therapy at least until age 50 to prevent osteoporosis and possibly cardiovascular disease. Taking these hormones will have the added benefit of reducing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
* Women interested in becoming pregnant should consult their own healthcare provider about possible therapeutic options. Those who are comfortable with pursuing assisted reproduction may want to consider in vitro fertilization using donor eggs or donor embryos.

So as it was explained to me at age 8 (ish): When a Man and Woman love each other very much, they get married. When they decide to have a baby they give each other a special hug. The part I must have missed was the part where the Man and Woman go ask the Woman’s sister or close friend to hand over an egg and we head on down the clinic for some R & R and make a baby together. Well, when that special time comes I guess I’ll be hittin’ up some relatives who are willing to help us make a baby that is half Matt’s and half ? who knows. I think I’ll sleep on it.

I am home in a rush to eat some dinner and run out again, so I’ll be quick. Basically, Motherhood is not off the tabel for me yet. Which is good news! They are going to test for a chromosome irregularity that could cause ovarian failure and until they know more I will be taking hormone replacement medication to get me back on track.  Pregnancy will still be a challenge in the future, but for now I am happy to just have an answer and a solution. If becoming a mother is in the stars for me, I just pray that it will come as stress free as possible for someone in my . . .special circumstances?

Today I feel: relieved, strong, and happy to be happy again. This weekend I will attend a baby shower and I can relax and enjoy the day. Have a Happy Easter everyone and I will see you again soon. My journey isn’t over yet.

Today at 4:00 I have an appointment to visit a fertility clinic that I was referred to by my OBGYN about the test results from the lab. I have been eagerly waiting a month for this day to arrive. Now that it is here, I am more nervous than I think I  have ever been. I have so many questions.

One of my main concerns is that this visit and others like it will not be covered under my insurance due to the title “infertility” in billing. The representative for my Health Insurance company has assured me that as long as they bill it under a different reason, more medical, that it should be covered. When I go to the doctors today I will have to make sure he is clear on my reason for visiting. I want my hormonal imbalance to be treated, not to become fertile. Well now, if the treatment for my hormonal imbalance happens to make me fertile, I certainly won’t complain.

I hope to find out today exactly what my chances are of ever being able to conceive with my condition. Is it even possible? If so, how? What can I do to help the solution? What are my options if I cannot conceive naturally? Can I stand to wait any longer, or is it a NOW OR NEVER kind of situation? If adoption and in vitro or serogacy are my next and only steps to motherhood, who can afford that?  I hope to find the answers to these questions and post later today. Wish me luck.