Seams and Sprinkles

A sweet and fashionable life, one post at a time.

The Numbing Current: A Reflection on My Infertility Journey

Maybe you have seen books that outline what to expect when you are expecting, well so far I have not needed those books, although there have been many years of trying without successful results. I think even if I read a book about what to expect when you are not expecting I still would not have been prepared for the pain and all-consuming emotions I have gone through to date. It is my hope that sharing my story can do a few things and these will also be good reasons to stick with me until the very end of the post.

  1. You can feel a little comfort that you are not alone and your feelings are okay to have if you are in this circumstance. Please know I am here if you need support! 
  2. You can get educated on a common issue that I didn't know about and may help you advocate for yourself with your gyno (I will get more into this later). Please ask me more questions about my experience if you need to.
  3. If you cannot relate and everything has gone according to plan for you, this will show another side of the story and help you be more aware of others you may be hurting without meaning to. This happens a lot, and you just may not realize. 
  4. If you know me or not, this will help you understand me and hopefully give you some insight and freedom to interact with me on this subject. 
  5. Together, we can stop making these things so taboo!

As you can imagine, I have wanted to voice this story for a while, but it has been pretty rough. I would say up until this point for about a decade I have been in and out of a suffocating and debilitating depression around this topic. I go back and forth with how to even start sharing what I want to say, but let's just go ahead and do it memoir style and start at the beginning, so to speak. 

As a child, I grew up with many unfortunate circumstances from being poor to living through various types of abuse. I became guarded and jaded as a mechanism to cope with these difficult circumstances. I learned many of the best lessons in what not to do. Somehow I was different, resilient and was able to overcome these issues. I was successful in school and eventually moved out to California to make my own life and define things on my terms. What my 20/20 hindsight is telling me now is that it was really to make my own way and become who I was supposed to be all along and it just kept getting lost by the terrible loudness of the toxic environments I was exposed to growing up. 

I had the desire to be a parent very early in life, probably around 18 or 19 years old. I did what I thought I was supposed to do and prevented it from happening as my now husband and I knew through our upbringing it was not the right thing to do—yet. We still had college to complete, financial security to achieve and a home to make. We did all the right things; we worked hard, excelled in school and did our best to enjoy every moment in life. However...deep down I was hurting. I felt the strong calling to be a mom and afford my child the life I never had. My husband and I are the oldest of our siblings and nurturers by nature (ha-ha, new rap group name). I cried often, pleading with him that we could make it work. If everyone else who is irresponsible manages to somehow make it work, why couldn't we? I felt incomplete and just hurt knowing a huge part of me was still unfulfilled. *Let's STOP here* This freaking hurts so bad. Typing this knowing that this was so long ago and my heart has been longing for this for over a decade just plain sucks. SUCKS! I would say more harsh words, but I promised myself I would try to stop cussing so DAMN much!! 

Anyway, I am always glad my husband kept us logical because I would hate to repeat the same vicious cycle I grew up in. Although I continued to be sad deep down, we kept chugging along checking off the "you are supposed to" items on life's to-do list. We get our degrees, have a lovely wedding in Cancun, Mexico, buy our home, new car and even land a stint on HGTV to remodel the front part of our home. I don't want to complain and say we are not blessed because we absolutely are. I am very grateful for what I do have; just sometimes the emptiness I feel from not filling what I believe is my ultimate calling in life consumes me. 

At this time we try for a bit and nothing happens. After a year as instructed I go back to the doctor and share that I have tried with no luck. She orders blood tests for my thyroid, diabetes and other potential chemical imbalances. She shares that with infertility, 30% of cases are related to female issues, 30% are related to male issues and a whopping 40% can just be any combination of the unknown. UGHHHHH!!! The tests I take all come back normal and she offers no additional advice or assistance and refers me to the infertility side of the house...nothing else, just like I was another number to the medical industry. The first thing I was supposed to go through was an HSG test, which would show an x-ray of my fallopian tubes and let us know if my tubes are blocked or not. Well, guess what, life happens yet again and we find out our dog has cancer and we have to put him down. Shortly after that, we find out our water heater has been leaking for a while. For the following months, our house was a construction site repairing all the damage. At this point, I decided it would not be the optimal time to move forward with the next infertility stages because of all the stress and sadness we were under. I have since learned that the reason stress is not good for you while trying to get pregnant is due to the heightened amounts of cortisol in your system in preparation for the fight or flight reaction. This is when your body realizes, hey this lady seems like she might be having issues and is probably not a hospitable habitat for a baby. 

The science makes much more of an impact on me than all the people out there who have no idea what it is like telling me to just relax. Don't tell me to relax. We have been on vacations, mini trips, you name it. From some of the whitest beaches and most beautiful oceans, that offer the most ideal relaxing experiences, all of that and still have not been given the opportunity to be parents. If you see your loved ones stressed out, just be there for them and support them. There is no way to not feel some stress in these circumstances. All these infertility situations are hard and you feel like your basic genetic rights as a woman are taken from you. The one thing you are supposed to be able to do, you can't. Could you just relax if someone took away the thing you find meaning from? How about if you never could read a book again, enjoy an exotic vacation or a delicious meal? Could you relax then? Not so easy, right?

My husband and I got married a lot earlier than most of folks we know. And as we waited to be blessed with our bundle of joy, we attended several weddings over the years and now it seems like baby shower after baby shower. It feels like the more and more I want it, the more and more I notice everyone else getting what I yearn for. In your face at work, at after the other. Like it is literally in the water where I live and although I drink it somehow I have gotten the control version and the scientists must be watching me in pain from afar. I love everyone in our life to death and I absolutely wish no ill will on anyone and while I have always felt happy for their joy, I have always felt more sadness for me. I know it seems selfish, but this is honest. Think about it in the way of how introverts are supposed to adapt to an extrovert world. This is kind of similar; us infertility warriors are supposed to show up to showers, listen to non-stop stories and still maintain relationships when you don't even feel like getting out of bed some days. We are expected to always put on a happy face and be there for everyone when things go right, but where are people for us when things are going wrong? Not many people want to talk about that...and it hurts. Don't worry about saying the right thing; just be there if you care. It can get pretty lonely being the couple without kids who desperately want them. 

So fast forward to 2017...I am 30 years old...this means I have been feeling the calling to be a parent for 12 years. We went through the HSG test first and it came back clear so I thought maybe we would be okay and it was just the stress getting to us before. We still try to hold the "try without trying" philosophy hoping that things will just happen, but they still don't. Events become increasingly more difficult for me to put on a happy face and I am crumbling on the inside. Certain group texts make me cry embarrassingly at work, I start not wanting to be out in public and I try to focus more on blogging to try and find my own identity. I grow more in this area and am still growing to be more successful at it, but it still doesn't take away the whisper in the back of my heart reminding me that we are still not parents yet. 

I vividly remember September because there were baby showers and announcement things all around me like a riptide. As soon as I came up for air, I was swallowed again by the pounding tide and it...was...relentless. I got to the point where I had no more tears to cry. I was empty inside, outside and in my eyeballs. At this time, I knew we needed to move forward and start taking the steps to figure out what the issues were so we can address them. Since the HSG test was clear, our next steps were to have a fertility consultation appointment. I went in with the idea that I would likely get prescribed medicine and the only thing we might encounter is ongoing mood swings because my hormones would be jacked. I was so hopeful at that time because I had heard many success stories and felt it we had a good chance since it seemed to work for so many people. 

*Standby for my shocked face* Well, things didn't go smoothly. At all. At my first appointment, which infertility is only half covered by my healthcare as if I wasn't dealing with enough, we find out on the ultrasound that I have a large cyst on my right ovary called endometrioma. This means taking medicine is not an option for me until I have surgery to remove it. The pills work in a way that tricks your brain into producing more eggs and increase your chances of getting pregnant, unfortunately, this could also trigger the endometrioma to grow and burst. I know—this is the part where those scientists watching the control water spread mayo on the shit sandwich I keep getting. I am devastated. So devastated. Why can't I catch a break is all I keep thinking. I did everything right, I was a good person, why oh why must I still continue to hurt and be hurt. 

We go to follow-up appointments and find out that this endometrioma is caused by a disorder I have and will always have called endometriosis. It is more common than you think and can be genetic. The only way to cure this is by removing my ovaries, which is very counterproductive to what I am trying to accomplish here. Endometriosis is often linked to infertility due to the obstruction it can cause for the sperm to get to your eggs. Endometriosis I hate your stupid freaking face. So, in November I had surgery to remove the cysts that were currently present. I was terrified, but I am so grateful for my husband who has been so supportive of me and understanding to what I need through these past few months. After recovering, we were instructed to try for 5-6 months naturally again using ovulation kits and then to come back when we are ready to try to take the medicine (if no endometrioma are present of course...gee golly). 

The first few times I used the smiley face ovulation kit the doctor suggested, the strips and reader kept giving me error messages several days in a row. I lost it a few times and cried uncontrollably because gosh darn it is like everything we can or can't control is working against us. I just had surgery for goodness sakes, is that not enough?!? I finally wised up and stopped using the reader and just figured out for myself that the strip will have two lines and I don't need the smiley face or middle finger, I mean blank circle to tell me if I am ovulating or not. So, here's to hoping that something finally happens for us in the next few months and if not, here is to hoping I can take the medicine at that point to increase our chances and if not, I guess we will be saving up for the $30k IVF treatments and hope that works. 

I have not completely lost my hope yet because I do know we have options still, but I am so tired and exhausted. I have been going up this steep hill for so many years with one rock slide after another and I just need to have room to breathe already. I hope soon that I will be able to report back that the miracle has happened for us and I will be more grateful and hold on to every moment more than you can imagine. 

I hope that this helps you see the uneasy side of getting pregnant because I will say it, just having sex doesn't get you pregnant and starting your family fairytale. I know the brainwashing from all the movies and sitcoms have us all fooled but we have got to wake up. I hope you will ask about endometriosis if you are having any unusual pain or not getting pregnant so you can advocate for yourself before stepping into the more expensive infertility office. I also hope you can understand through this journey of mine that some people are hurting and don't mean to be sad when you are happy, it just hurts too much sometimes. 

Let's start more conversations about this and stop being scared to be there for each other and help each other advocate for ourselves. We need to be more open so we all don't feel alone or misunderstood and keep evolving these real situations so they are less taboo. We can be more mindful of what we say, like maybe let's retire "when are you planning to have a baby," and other things our society has made normal for us that can accidentally hurt others. I hope you are with me!

If you have questions or comments, I would love you to share them with me below. I want to help you in any way I can. Thank you again for being a part of this journey with means a lot!

Hump Day Quickie: How I am starting 2018

Hi everyone! Can you believe we are chatting in a new year already? I know I certainly cannot; time really does fly. I thought I would share somethings I am trying to implement in this new year to make sure I am set up for success and I hope some of these things will be beneficial for you to consider, too.

My overall goal word this year is enlightenment. I like to take in as much information is as I can, but this year I want to focus that information internally and make myself a stronger individual living at peace with the world and the journey I am on. The more I have been reflecting on my goals, the more I feel like I am in the middle of a mid-life crisis...but I feel like it is in a good, controlled type of way! To help me sort out my thoughts and let go of anything holding me back I am meeting with a life coach and so far have already had some great revelations from it. Yahoo, some mental health is on my path forward and I could not be more stoked to get rid of any unnecessary baggage!

Next, I listened to a podcast recently that had me thinking about what I put in and on my body. It discussed (and reminded me) that our skin is an organ and how sensitive things like our face and armpits are and we are putting gross chemicals all over it. I had already been considering this since my face continues to break out no matter what I do. I have since transitioned over to Pacifica beauty products for my face wash, lotion, and liquid foundation. My next step has been to add some miles to my life by purchasing organic fruits, vegetables, and other food whenever I can. I know it costs more up front...but isn't more days to live worth it? I think so! Over time, I hope to incorporate organic and natural products to replace all the other stuff I have lying around. I am not jumping into cutting everything out completely, but over time I want to be better and have better habits. I think I will be more successful overall with this approach. Yahoo, some better internal and external health is also on my path forward!

Another action item I am hoping will help me continue to grow is investing more in my relationships. I want to spend time investing in those that invest in me and really make time for quality time. It doesn't mean that it has to be huge chunks of time or expensive events, just quality time chatting and being there for each other. As life goes on, I realize more and more that this is a valuable cornerstone of my life. Shout out to all those who have been there for me when I have really needed it (bless your souls...seriously)! I invite new and old friends to join me on a coffee date or random text exchange to connect better.

These are just a few things I am using to lay the foundation for this year and many more goals trickle down from there. A huge help to me outlining what is most important to me and deciding on how to set these actionable goals has been the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner by Lara Casey. This is my second year using it and I can vouch for its value. I looked back on my last year and this amazing tool kept me on track even in my crappiest of times (and there were many of those). If you are still looking for something to help you get out of your own way and map it out, I think you will find it very useful!

I would love to support you and check in with you some time to see how you are doing with your goals. If you feel like sharing so I can do that with you, please leave me a note in the comments below and how I can reach you to follow up at a surprise time! I would be so excited to do that and support you in your life adventure this year. So write it down there for me and let's make a deal to make it a commitment for both of us.

Cheers to an absolutely fabulous year, friends!