Every other day I am a pure mess through and through. Frustrated at the world, at myself, at the complete powerlessness I’ve been feeling. And while yes I know intellectually I’m taking concrete steps to address what I’m going through, and that technically I am not powerless, y’all dealing with infertility know what I mean when we talk about feeling out of control in trying to start a family. I just knew that I could not let this one RE determine my fate as a hopeful mother.
What will happen next? I have no fucking idea.
In 2 weeks, we have our first consult with midsize fancy private fertility clinic. There are four clinics in town, two being individual providers and two having multiple providers. Of the latter two one is a giant university hospital where it feels like a bureaucracy in all the worst ways, and the other is this midsize one that both my ND and LAc have strong partnerships with, but where I’ve been very nervous about talking to as I was treated so horrendously (ripped a new one by their front desk and nursing staff during our first IUI, where they had promised to do the procedure then reneged the morning of, telling me they didn’t have my files even though I’d talked to them the day before, having the balls to tell me I’ll just have to ‘try again next month’ after they lost my appointment, forcing my ND to do it who didn’t have a small enough catheter and therefore decided to, let’s just say, “spray it in the vicinity of my cervix” as she put it). I don’t know if those bitches are gone or were given a good talking to after they got so many bad reviews on Yelp (which they must have had removed), but this time around the person I dealt with was both nice and efficient.
I got a massive email with all the paperwork to get medical records authorizations, etc., and a link to their patient portal where I entered all my history, and I mean super duper thorough. At my consult with my existing RE/clinic? I brought a few of my own lab reports, he didn’t ask for any past history/records, and there was no such questionnaire or anything, really. In addition, I checked the new doc out and he’s the co-founder of the clinic and while he’s not known for his charm, his scores are 9.5-10.0 on the FertilityIQ.com site because, well, if anyone knows his shit, it’s this guy.
For the organizational types, you’ll like this: I got a little uber-geeked out and created a timeline of my fertility treatments, lab results, protocols, drugs/supplements, etc. – even a colorful graph/chart showing my TSH results history since 2007. Noice! (Hey, if I have to pay $350 for this consult, dammit I want to get the most out of it.).
No word from clinic #2 who has a sole female RE on staff since they emailed a week ago saying they were “looking into it”. So there ya go on that one.
It’s a weird spot, this limbo after the BFN and before the consult with the new doctor.
I am literally on NO hormones right now. No birth control pills after getting my period after ending the progesterone and estrogen after the 5th fail. The only things I’m taking are my prenatal (bad juju not to) vitamins, thyroid meds, Vitamin C, and fish oil. I have this rare opportunity to enjoy some pure living – me without IVF prep. Me in this holding pattern until it’s time to make a decision about what’s next…or what’s not next.
Lately I’ve seen a number of blog posts talking about the what-if place that many of us come to after multiple IVF fails, considering what we never wanted to consider – life without children, like this one. And then there’s the numerous ones that are all about not forgetting who we are outside of IVF, and celebrating all of the beautiful things we have in our lives and not putting things on hold, including this post and this one as well.
It’s so damn hard being 42. Everything else about 42 is great, but for me, I can’t seem to find a way to leave limbo. Sure, we’re doing things like remodeling our kitchen, but I’m also sitting here in my living room where I have a direct view into the office/dining room area that is half decorated for a little one. Mae Gibbs alphabet art on the walls, two bookshelves my husband made during our pregnancy this summer for the little one’s books along with the small jungle of stuffed animals we’d been collecting over the past year and a half. During cycle 5 I insisted on optimism by hanging one solitary baby onesie that we’ve had for over a year, which says “Li’l Levens” on it. And with our remodel, I’ve moved in a good 70% of our kitchen stuff in there for storage until our cabinets are built, so I see it all, every damn day.
It all feels so far away. I feel like I’m in quicksand and making no effort to move, just slowly being swallowed up. If I emotionally eat, I get sick. If I drink coffee (which I’d missed so much), I get sick. I don’t know where I am or where to find myself.
My thyroid pills are almost out and the Legacy lab, who said everything was in when I called, won’t release my TSH results (from tests done almost a week ago) over the phone but have not sent them to my doctor or posted them on my account. So I had to ask my doctor to call them and turns out they didn’t even run the TSH so they’re going to do it tonight and have them tomorrow, grrr…
As for the other tests…
So last year when we started this shitshow called infertility treatments, my FSH was extremely high at 18. Re-testing it shows it has plummeted to 0.4. I first thought it meant I should do a happy dance because it said under 6 is “very good” – but learned from Dr Google that it’s actually TOO low and possibly means I’m either no longer ovulating at all, or I am fucked in one of twenty other ways.
My AMH? You think 0.1 is low from last year? Now it’s 0.003. Why even fucking measure it, just tell me I’m out of eggs and send me to menopause city.
Ah yes and my thyroid antibodies are six times what they should be, still attacking me from the inside out. No longer 10X, but not in any kind of safe zone for a baby to be secure.
And we have to look at that damn fibroid in my uterus that the doc had said wasn’t a big deal because it “wasn’t in the implantation area”. But y’all it’s 2cm. The normal size of a uterus is 7.6cm L x 4.5cm W and is 3cm thick. So a 2cm fibroid would be a sizable chunk even if it’s not near the cervix. Tell me that’s not a concern. And as a fellow patient of aforementioned RE pointed out, fibroids are stated right on his website as a contributor to infertility. But hell, my RE didn’t give a shit that my thyroid was triple the normal levels this spring when I was doing cycle 3 or double when I was doing cycles 4 and 5 and had miscarried.
So um yeah, I’ve got some purging to do, y’all. Yet my hands are tied til I know on the 9th if the existing frozen embryos will even be able to be transferred. Because if they’re not, what do I do? Go back to original RE and transfer those last 2 A’s? Will he really do it or change his mind and pick 2 more B’s and not tell me? How can I trust a guy who can’t take notes about why he chose two embryos and was perfecting willing to send me through 5 rounds of IVF without being at ideal thyroid levels? It’s a conundrum that I may have to consider…
A Strange Sense of Relief in Saying Goodbye
So I may be still dealing with myself and my heart but I have retired one attempt at a relationship, for good. For real, I’m relieved to have done it, and handled it like a champ I gotta say.
Well I’ve not written a ton about it but if you’re a diligent reader, you’ll know that I tried reconnecting with my mother after my stepfather’s death in the spring, after having not had a relationship with her for 6 years. That had happened after some really nasty things she’d said and done, including not supporting me at my first photography show, and for one of the last things she said that said my stepfather, who raised me with her since I was 6, “never liked me”.
When he was dying, he had his 7 children from his first marriage and my older half-sister and half-brother visiting him (neither of the latter two even lived with him more than a couple years, while with me I was the one who from the age of six he helped with my homework, taught me how to shoot a gun, loaned me his camera while I honed my photography skills, picked me up from the mall and nightclubs, and was a calming presence for me to talk to after fights with my mother during my teen years…but as soon as I moved out of the house, he stopped being any type of parental figure, like he was just faking it for 12 years) – but I found out he was days from death via an EMAIL from my brother who lives in California AFTER he left town, who claimed he didn’t know the address of where my stepfather was in hospice, making it perfectly clear I was in no way welcome in his life or had any meaning to him, even in his last days on earth. Fuck him.
Yet knowing my mother was losing her husband of 35 years, even though it was made pretty damn clear by my father before he died that she’d actually gotten together with him while she was still married to my dad (they all worked in the same office and within a year of my father moving out the man was living with us…and none of us were invited to their wedding not long after that), I had reached out to her, and she’d responded wanting to get together. But as I quickly found out, she only responded to people preening over her. If it was about my life? No interest. No comments. No questions. No curiosity about my business, no interest in our struggle with infertility, and during my miscarriage, no interest in coming over to be with me while my husband was at work while I went through hard contractions and bleeding for 12 straight hours (so my husband ended up leaving work a few hours in to be with me so I wouldn’t be alone), no interest in coming to see me afterwards during the worst grief of my life, no mention of it a month later when we drove to her house in the suburbs, and zero acknowledgement of our 5th round of IVF even though she knew the date and anxiety around it. But she was happy to send long messages about herself, her new boyfriend’s home and vacations with him (yes, 3.5 months after my stepfather’s death she’s – in her words – in a new relationship), how healthy her doctor says she is, blah blah fucking blah. Six plus months after I first reached out, she hadn’t done anything more than text. At one point she asked 3 weeks after the miscarriage if she could come over and visit MY HUSBAND to wish him happy birthday, and I said he was working but that he’d love to get a birthday card, and rather than do anything, she neither responded nor sent a card. Did I mention she’s never made any attempt to get to know him when we have gotten together? Never asked him a question about his life, his family, nothing – even when I told her she needs to show more of an interest in him. And still nothing to me. Over the months I’d shared articles about infertility, about DEIVF, about what to say/not say to those battling, very overt “this is what I need from you” and…nada, zilch, nothing.
I told my husband you know what, I’m too fucking tired to babysit this one sided bullshipt anymore. So I stopped communicating with her, as I knew that over my whole life, whenever I’ve tried to have a calm, rational, vulnerable heart-to-heart (like I’d done back in ’09) about something she’s said or done that’s hurt my feelings, she’d be incredibly cruel and show zero interest in improving the relationship. After all, this is the person who never told me she was battling breast cancer so when I found out – from my good friend (whose husband was my mother’s hairdresser, who I learned years later that my sister was fucking knowing he was not only married but to my friend who was also pregnant at the time) I went to the hospital only to be told “oh gee look who decided to show up” even though she had deliberately not told me she had cancer. And this was also the person who when I was 26 and told her I was engaged, because she wasn’t the FIRST person I told (I called my dad first), she not only decided she wasn’t coming to our wedding, she stopped talking to us for months, not even a greeting card. And they were the people who, when we lived in California years later, they visited for Thanksgiving but over their 5 days in town, only made it over for dinner then refused any other invitations to spend time together. She also loved to insult people, particularly about their weight, mocking my sister’s weight gain after she’d (for the time) stopped drinking, calling my brother’s wife a “hippo” and wearing a white dress to their wedding to outshine the bride (yet trying to get me to explain to her this year why my sister-in-law doesn’t want her at their house), making fun of my sister’s current girlfriend for being butch (then wondering why my sister doesn’t want to spend time with her), and my personal favorite, a couple years ago when my sister got back together with her first husband who molested me when I was 10, welcoming him into her house for Christmas dinner (and claiming this year to “not remember” much about that time). Yeah, to put it mildly it was a big step for me at 42 to even contemplate attempting getting to know her, but as I told my husband in my IVF hormone-infused mind at the time, I thought perhaps his death might make her nice. Perhaps she’d go back to the feminist she was in the 1970’s rather than the conservative Palin/Beck/O’Reilly-adoring person she had morphed into while being married to a small-minded former NRA chapter president.
Yet being a grown-up (whoa…), I didn’t feel comfortable in the concept of “ghosting”, as I’ve always been committed to being upfront with people close to me, relative or friend, if I was feeling hurt about their actions (or lack thereof) and wanted either change or to gently end things. I learned during these past few years that the best action for toxic behaviors towards me is honest, clear, succinct feedback, coming from the heart. And while some claimed to want to have a relationship (yet then flaked so many times I had to just get the picture and move on), others simply turned their backs when I asked for more than it appeared they were willing to give, and one got seriously nasty (after being so rude to my husband that I refused to tolerate her nastiness) and taught me quickly that I’d made the right decision in ending that relationship. And while I’ve watched a lot of people disappear during this infertility chapter, I’ve not regretted being completely honest and emotionally vulnerable. I’ve always asked for what I needed during this time, as I don’t believe that it’s right to just walk away without the person having the opportunity to do the right thing. And if they choose not to, that’s their choice and you are freed from their toxicity.
So when I articulated in writing to my mother (you can’t talk to her about anything verbally, she’ll cut you off) why I hadn’t talked, how much it hurt to have her refuse to come see me or acknowledge my miscarriage or round 5 ivf, and how we need to surround ourselves with those who actively support and show up for us during this, the worst struggle of our lives, I received a (sadly) predictable response. It was filled with “poor me” comments, completely ignoring my miscarriage and 5th IVF round, talking about herself and how I “refuse to accept her for who she is” and that she only has my brother (who lives out of state and who she isn’t allowed to stay with), my sister (who rarely sees her as she’s told my mother her relationship with her girlfriend is her priority) and me (who…see above) as family. Yet the world revolves around her? The fuck it does. I actually responded rather than ignored, telling her you know what? This is NOT ABOUT HER. I reiterated that my baby died inside my body and said that I told her what I need, and that if she doesn’t want to step up and change her behaviors, that’s her prerogative but that I can’t be party to it.
No response. And you know what? That’s fucking fine. I am free. Dammit, I am free. She is in no way my family. I knew it before and allowed myself to experiment, but my hypothesis was correct – she had not changed, she did not want to change, and will go to her grave pitying herself, insulting others in a very Trump-like way, and that’ll be that. I had an inkling of this when we were pregnant as she’d said she was going to decorate “the old office” (mind you she never referred to it as my old bedroom) so the baby could “spend the night” and my husband and I said that day “are you fucking kidding me? why would we ever leave our baby with her, a woman who has clearly showed so much contempt for others and zero interest in our infertility treatments?”
I actually exhaled afterwards when I told my husband about this. This crazy experiment is over. Hormone-free, I see very very clearly.
So there’s a silver lining y’all. The last bit of toxicity is GONE. Amen for hormone-free living.
Let the sleep commence. The rest will reveal itself sooner or later, right?