Monday, April 30, 2018

The Best Advice I Never Followed

Welcome to Microblog Mondays! Want to learn more and read more? Head over to Stirrup Queens for the details!

One of my stress-relief activities is to read various online forums. I stick mostly to forums related to infertility/loss and those related to finances. What can I say - you'll need the finances to afford the fertility treatments!

Anyhow, on one of the finance forums, a poster has recently been told she'll have trouble TTC. Initial lab results came up with borderline low AMH, although her AFC is great. She is, understandably, freaking out and only focusing on the bad news. As a result, she seems to be having a really hard emotional time. She's only at the start of the IF process and her self-report anxiety is through the roof. 

My heart hurts for her reading her words. I want to reach out and tell her:  In the IF world, sometimes you're going to get really crappy news, and eventually you'll find out that it was total bullshit. And sometimes you're going to get really good news, and eventually you'll find out that that was total bullshit, too. That's the nature of the IF beast - sometimes, what seems to be bad isn't and what seems to be good isn't, and you'll never know for sure when you first learn it. Try to give yourself some processing time, time to learn that the terrible isn't actually entirely terrible. Try to give yourself the grace to focus on the good stuff while you can. Try to find ways to care for yourself, because it can be a long road, and I'm certain it feels even longer if you travel all of it in a state of high anxiety. Try not to lose sight of hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. 

I want to tell her that, but I won't, for two reasons. First, that's the sort of advice that nobody wants until they're ready to hear it, and she's not ready. Second, I think it's pretty good advice, but I've yet to master doing it myself, so suggesting it to others is pretty hypocritical. So, here's to me, and her, and all of us giving ourselves the grace to focus on the good stuff while we can.

Monday, April 23, 2018

When Words Fail

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Years ago, I TA'd for a Development Psych course. We taught about Piaget and his theories of child development. He discusses that children's speech often begins with the 'monologue' or the 'collective monologue'. That is, if you listen to the speech of young children, even when those children appear to be talking to other kids, they're really not responding to each other. Each one is talking to himself/herself about the topics of interest to them. The concept is that the child is self-focused to a degree that prevents them from actually interacting with others. It's an ego-centric world view.

I have always had a vibrant inner monologue running. I use it to plan my work, prepare for interactions with other people, build empathy, and be my own cheerleader. I try very hard to use my inner monologue, ego-centric though it may be, to think about others' perspectives and needs. It's been useful for me as I develop plans and strategies.

Lately, I've realized that my inner monologue has lost its utility and become focused on loss and infertility. The words '7 pregnancies, 8 babies, no living children' just keep swirling around. I'm concerned that this is becoming how I define myself. While it's an instrumental part of who I am, it isn't all of me. I need to get other parts of my identity back. I need to make my inner monologue more inclusive.

I'm not really certain how to do that, but I'm approaching it the way I would meditation. Any time I notice those words swirling past, I stop and acknowledge them, and then redirect. We'll see how that works, but for now at least I'm aware that I have work to do. My words may be failing me at the moment, but my awareness of them isn't, so that's a start.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Microblog Mondays: The Emperor Has No Tea

Welcome to Microblog Mondays! Want to learn more and read more? Head over to Stirrup Queens for the details!

Years ago, my mom used to brew large containers of green tea, and then pour the tea into old, disposable water bottles (think Crystal Geyser). One summer during college, DH, who at that time was just my college friend, came to visit me at my parents' house. Mom had just made a batch of tea, so a dozen tea-filled bottles were lined up in the fridge. DH opened the fridge, stared for a moment, and asked in a distinctly suspicious tone: "What is that, pond water?" Mom overheard it and has never let him live it down. Twenty years later, 'pond water' is a family joke.

Acupuncturist #2 gave me a tea to drink twice a day. Pond water would be the most apt description, although I suspect that pond water would taste better. I believe in the value of complimentary therapies like TCM and diet. That's why I'm spending time and money on acupuncture. However I know the research evidence on TCM is incredibly mixed. I know REs who say, probably correctly, that if you told patients that running naked down the street would improve their chances by 5%,  the street would be filled with naked running women.  With each sip of 'pond water,' I wonder if I'm frolicking about without my knickers.

I'm still waiting out CD1 for the cycle I'll have to skip due to business travel. I'm in a really interesting and totally unexpected place, mentally: I'm ok with being done. For a while, I was researching donor eggs on the hope that if my lining would be good enough, maybe donor eggs would give us a chance. Then I realized that I'm just tired. I'm tired of losses, of treatments, of spending money just to be heartbroken, of always worrying about what CD it is. I'm tired of not being able to make plans (or having to cancel plans that I've made). A pregnancy will mean XX weeks of fear. I'm tired of fear. I'm tired of the roller coaster. I am ready to step off and be done. I'm completely sure I won't feel this same way right after another loss, but it's a feeling I haven't otherwise experienced in almost three years, which tells me that it'll probably come back again if I'm patient.

DH and I agreed we'd try two or three more cycles. Depending on what happens during them, after that point, we'll probably call it. In the meantime, I'll doff my knickers and frolic in the streets with my pond water, my TCM-approved diet (no sugar, nothing processed, warm foods, etc.), and my fertility yoga moves. I'll do everything I can to make sure that if we do reach 'done', I won't have (m)any 'what if I'd just tried ______' regrets.