Fighting Infertility and then Fearing Fertility.

I woke up last Saturday night, cold sweat in the middle of the night, from a nightmare.  This time it didn’t have anything to do with Sophie’s health.  The nightmare was me finding out I was pregnant again… for a fourth time.  Terrifying.  Utterly.

I laid there with Vivi snuggled against my right side.  (Yes, we co-sleep…  we TRY not to, we put her in her crib, but sometime around 1-3 am she wakes up and wants to be held, and after not sleeping for 3 years, I hit the point where I just gather her up and snuggle with her and we both go back to sleep.  Dan wouldn’t wake up if a dump truck drove through a nitroglycerin factory in our bedroom, so it’s on me.  That’s not the point of this post.  Keep focused, people… keep focused!).  All I could think of was that Archer was 10 months old when we got pregnant with Vivi… and Vivi is 10 months old right now.

When it comes to fertility, Dan and I have been through the full range of emotions and experiences, so I have a wide range of feelings attached to this. Sadness, longing, elation, desire, and now fear.

I graduated school in 2005.   Dan and I had been married for 4 years by then and we immediately started to try to get pregnant.  I had been diagnosed with PCOS back in college sometime, around 2001 I think.  PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (sometimes referred to as disease, so PCOD).  It’s where my body doesn’t release ova (eggs) so that they can be fertilized and make a baby.  Instead they get stuck in the ovaries for some reason, and they turn into cysts, which in turn burst and I end up puking my guts out and curled up on the bathroom floor in agony for a day or so every month.  For dramatic purposes, sometimes I’d just pass out.  Those are fun times.  Gotta say.

So we knew getting pregnant would be a struggle because you sorta need that egg to be released in order to GET pregnant.  It was considered “primary infertility.”  Aka, “you can’t get pregnant, we know why, we can’t fix it, and you just suck.” We went to a specialist who did ultrasounds, and other tests with scans and radiation stuff and checked everything to do with my reproductive system.  I was stuck with needles so many times I felt like a pin cushion.  I had blood tests every month, each one showing that I didn’t ovulate.  I was put on metformin, clomid, and some other medication, whose name is not coming to me.  I gained weight (OMG did I gain weight!!!) from the raging random hormones, and still I didn’t get pregnant.   It felt hopeless.

When you are failing to become pregnant, you become hyper aware of all the mommas around you.  And all the pregnant ladies (cue Beyonce song).  It didn’t help that my boss at work was pregnant.  Very much so.  Right in front of me.  All day long.  I wanted to snuggle up against her belly and rub it for luck, but that’s probably frowned upon in professional settings, so I didn’t.The longer it took, the harder it got to deal with.  I couldn’t buy groceries without being reminded that I wasn’t going to be a mom.  There are kids EVERYWHERE!!! I mean, who thought THAT was okay?  Any kind of shopping.  Going to the park.  So many things became painful.

As a woman, you feel like a failure.  I mean, I LOOK fertile.  I’m curvy in all the right places (granted, after 4 years of fertility treatments and 3 years of pregnancy, rounded up of course, I could use a little roadwork on those curves to tone them down a bit, but…).  I’ve got what’s lovingly called “birthing hips.”  Which is another way for saying to a woman “please don’t sit in my lap… I wanna walk again.”  And yet… inside all my “womanly curves” I was about as womanly as a cardboard box.  I felt useless.  And I saw a sad life in front of me.  I wanted Christmas with children.  Light weight, high pitched laughter in my house.  A backyard played in. I had all these expectations for how my life would be.  But nope.  Not happening.

I went to the doctor on January 2, 2007 for yet another ultrasound and yet another blood test results reading and a sit down with the doctor.  I had 28 cysts.  Meaning I hadn’t ovulated for 28 months.  One egg per month, turns into one cyst per month.  28 months, people.  Over 2 years documented on an ultrasound where my body said “screw you” to my dream of having a kid.   The doctor said it wouldn’t happen without IVF.  For those of you who have been here, you know that IVF is unreal expensive.  At the base price, it’s around $11K.   I worked for the state.  Dan was an assistant manager of a bank.  Together we weren’t breaking $60K a year combined and had nearly $80K in student loans plus other debt.  So that wasn’t going to happen for us.   I left the doctor’s office dejected and nearly cried.   I was about to thrown in the towel  Then…..

We got pregnant 10 days later.   No joke.  Don’t ask me.  Lesson to take from this?  Doctors can be wrong.

10 months later Sophie Tempee was born.

By the way, pregnancy is 10 months, people… 40 weeks, 4 weeks per month = 10 months.  WHY is everyone cutting out a month?  Cause 9 months would be 36 weeks.  By 36 weeks pregnant, the mom is all “YAY!!!  I’m Done… wait… I have 4 more WEEKS?!?!  FFFFFFFFFFFFF UUUUUUUUUU!!!!”  Trust me, you wont find a pregnant woman at 36 weeks along saying “Can I have another 4 weeks of this, please??”  Not going to happen.

But I digress.   Sophie was born, amazing perfect little girl…. with cancer.  And you know all those images in my head of how life would look?  The kid lit fire to them and burned them to the ground.  Cancer tends to change all your plans.  BUT she’s given me so much more than those stupid images in my head anyways.   Damn awesome kid.

We shelved having more kids and anything else family related for a while, knowing I couldn’t do what I needed to do with Sophie while pregnant or caring for another baby.

I always wanted my babies to be close in age, so they got along well.  You know, Irish Twins kinda close.  So we would be done with diapers and baby food and formula and that crap REAL fast and BAM, we’d have really close siblings for kids that would go through school together and share friends and…. well…  yeah, That was the plan but it didn’t work out so well.  AND I always wanted three kids.  ALWAYS.  I figured three close together, they would always have at least one person they could lean on if bad stuff happened.  Even if one sibling was playing basketball or off visiting grandparents, the other two would have a brother or sister they could go to.   I also figured we’d be financially more stable than we are, hence the wanting three kids.  But oh well.

It took until February of 2009 for Sophie to go into remission, and until the end of 2010 for the chemo to stop being administered.  The scans slowed down sometime in early 2011.  And we got our feet up under us again, but we were drowning in debt and Dan was in nursing school, so we put off the second kid again.  All this time we were doing nothing to prevent a baby because, well, I can’t get pregnant without help, right?  I didn’t get pregnant.  5 YEARS I didn’t get pregnant with no preventative steps.

Around the middle of 2013, we decided we were good.  Sophie was safely deep enough into remission to chance having a sibling. Dan was done with nursing school and had a great job he liked.  I was doing well at my job and I loved what I was doing. We were still in debt, but hey… that’s life.  Moving on.   Soooo, we started to try, back on the metformin, 6 months later come the shots, the clomid for 4 or 5 months.

Here’s a glowing advertisement for the pharmaceutical industry:  Clomid is made from the laughter of Satan himself. I’m convinced. Don’t try that crap.  Don’t take it.  DON’T DO IT!!  That stuff is the worst thing I have EVER taken, and that’s including the pitocin they used to try to induce my labor with Sophie that had me vomiting every contraction AND the morphine pain medication they give after the c-sections that makes me vomit for hours.  Combined.   Clomid made me insane.  It made me cry.  In the shower.  Every day.  Over nothing.  And I mean NOTHING.  I remember crying cause the grout wasn’t clean enough in the shower.  Because I had the wrong colored toe nail polish.  Cause my car always needed gas.  I kid you not.  That shit made me clinical.  I gained 30 lbs in 3 months.   On salads, for Pete’s sake!  I went from running 3 miles a day to NOT RUNNING cause it hurt my ankles and knees.  I screamed at Dan over things like the dishes and when it rained and air and anything at all.  And Sophie.  Poor Sophie had a nutso mom.  OMG I hate those meds.   Satan’s laughter, I’m telling you.  I was a hormonal mess, and we were spending so much $$, but hey… we wanted this second kid.

I finally said I was done. I gave up.  I couldn’t keep doing it.  I was an emotional mess.  I was going to be a failure as a mother.  Sophie needed to have someone near her age to love on that would understand her in a way I couldn’t, and I couldn’t give that person to her and I sucked as a living breathing human being for it.  I felt worse than pond scum.  Crappiest mom ever.   (yes, I know it’s nuts, but as I said, hormonal crazy woman on hormones… omg…)

I ended up taking two months off of all the meds to get over the emotional rollercoaster, and it took a while to get it all out of me.  I haunted online blogs about infertility and PCOS and pregnancy, searching for ANYTHING better.  Anything but the drugs to get pregnant with.  Then finally, after much digging, I found Femara online.  I BEGGED my doctor to try me on Femara, which is a breast cancer medication that has a weird side effect of getting women with PCOS pregnant.  Weird, but yay!  And he said okay!  But only three months of it! So SCORE!  The Femara worked on the second month.  And I had NO side effects from this drug.  NONE.  No joke.  Just the Femara.  No shots, no other medications, nothing.  No weight gain, and my brain went back to being a normal breathing person.  It.Was.Incredible.  All that $$ and time and weight and crap wasted before this drug.  Femara was something like $50 on our insurance.   I could have punched a kitten for what we wasted in time, money, and tears.  BUT I was PREGNANT!  And it was a healthy pregnancy and BAM, 10 months later, Archer was here!  We were DONE!!!  I wasn’t going through that whole fertility thing again because, well, I wanted to stay married and not be arrested for murder… sooooo…

We settled in.  We were happy.  Archer was a dream. An absolute doll with lots of hugs and a half cocked little wicked smile and a gleam in his big eyes.  He and Sophie were so in love and he was such a snuggler and we fit into our little 3 bedroom house perfectly and we were doing GREAT!  We were getting him to sleep in his room more and more, and less in our bed.  He was getting off formula and was walking.

We didn’t do anything to prevent a pregnancy again cause, honestly, 7 years of doing nothing and a huge fertility battle to have a second baby, why bother?   I have, cumulative, just around 4 years of bloodwork showing I don’t ovulate.  I have about 6 ultrasound readouts saying that I have more cysts then the lake at the golf course has golf balls.  I can PROVE I don’t ovulate.  So why would we waste the $$ on preventative medicine when birth control makes me insane and the surgery is just more $$ we can’t waste.  I was walking birth control anyways, right?

Then I got sick.  And I stayed sick for a week.  I was late.  Like a week or so, maybe?  I had stopped charting anything, so I didn’t really know HOW late or if I really was late at all.  But still.  I was having these twinges in my stomach, like when you first get pregnant and you uterus starts to expand.  And I was only getting sick in the mornings.

I told Dan I thought I might be pregnant.  Keep in mind, I’d been pregnant twice by this time, and I kinda knew what it felt like.  When you fight infertility, and you FINALLY get pregnant, you focus on every little feeling associated with pregnancy.  Every ache.  Every stretch of a muscle.  Every twinge. Every cry, or whine, or laugh, or giggle, or sneeze, or burp, or fart.  You OBSESS over it all cause you want to remember it all cause you don’t know if it will last or if it will happen again or if you are dreaming.  Granted I wasn’t really even sure if I was late or how late…

Well, whatever.  Dan didn’t listen.  He laughed.  The dude LAUGHED.  This was our conversation:

Me: “I think I’m pregnant.  I need to get a test.”
Dan: ~laughter~ “No.”
Me: “What do you mean no?  I’m not asking if you think we are pregnant or if I CAN get a test.  I’m saying I think I might be.”
Dan: “Just no.  There’s no way. You’ve probably just got a bug.”
Me: “I want to get a pregnancy test.”
Dan: ~pausing for a few minutes cause he knows I’m not one to back down~  “Let’s just wait a few days and see.”

See the problem here is, when we were trying to get pregnant, I OBSESSED over whether I was pregnant every month.  I think I peed on one of those little sticks every other month just to sob over the negative results.  It’s hard to tell if you are “late” when you never really were clockwork to start with, right? With those meds and stuff… OMG, EVERY month I was counting days, hours, charting crap, obsessing over everything.  I was neurotic about it.  NEUROTIC!  Hormones do that to you.  I’m not sure why Dan tolerated it for as long as he did. Anyways… I was always “I think I might be.” That was me something like every other month.  I wanted it so bad.  But always, I wasn’t.  Anyways, continued conversation:

Me: “I really think…”
Dan: “Let’s just wait a couple of days and see.”
Me: ~growl~ “Fine.” (I didn’t have the time to go to the drug store in the evenings after work, but Dan was working 3 days a week and had 4 off, so he could go to the drug store when he wasn’t working… hence the conversation).

Two days later:
Me: “Dan, I need you to swing by and get a pregnancy test.”
Dan: “You really think… well I think we should wait until the weekend.”  (this was a Wednesday and Dan isn’t one to waste $$ on stupid stuff we don’t need, like pregnancy tests when I’m never going to get pregnant again anyways.)
Me: ~ticked off at this point~ “Just pick one up on the way home.  With my brokenness, I’m likely going to convince myself that I’m pregnant at some point in the future anyways and demand a test then anyhow.” (see?? It’s reverse psychology.  I’m saying “yeah, I’m not pregnant, but I’m crazy, obviously, and even if my period comes and I’m not pregnant this time, I’m still going to be crazy and we will have this same conversation in a few months anyways… so just humor the crazy lady.”  We were still coming down off of the crazy lady that I am when pregnant or on fertility meds… honestly Dan’s been married to crazy me far longer than he’s been married to normal me.) *note:  I haven’t used a pregnancy test since and not once in the year from Archer’s birth until the positive test from Vivi.  So yeah, I’m “colorful,” but I’m not constantly paranoid that I’m pregnant.

It worked.  The dude bought me a three pack.

Me: “A three pack?”
Dan: “You know you’ll use all of them even if you aren’t pregnant.”
Me: “Solid argument.”

Now here’s the thing about Daniel.  He’s a genius.  And funny and gorgeous and smart and the best thing that ever happened to me.  BUT he’s NOT a morning person.  I call him, and incidentally Sophie too, my morning trolls.  And that’s not to be cute.  The jerk growls at me before 10 am.  There are days I stay clear in order to keep all my fingers.  Seriously… he’s a troll.  There’s no real point in telling him anything or expecting a human reaction at all from him before 10 am.  I should know this by now.  The guy is a SAINT and will likely be canonized after his death… but not because of anything he ever did before 10 am.

Another fun fact:  When you take pregnancy tests, you’re supposed to take it first thing in the morning cause that’s when the highest concentration of the pregnancy hormone is in the urine. (sorry… but if bodily functions turn you off, you might want to stop reading my blog.  I have LOTS of bodily fluids on this blog.  It’s what I do.).

Soooo, couple these two things together and you’d think I’d lknow to not spring a positive pregnancy test on the husband early in the morning or if I do, to not expect Daniel to be human…ish… when I get a positive pregnancy test at 7 am.   But I’m an idiot, apparently.

Flashback: In 2007, when I told Dan I was pregnant with Sophie, I expected a smile or something.  Not the “No way.” growled at me from his pillow, which he had over his face cause I was apparently bothering him.  I was THRILLED… he was half awake and wanted to go back to sleep but couldn’t because of his horrid wife.  This is how I ruined the whole telling the husband I was pregnant thing: Take 1.

Lesson #1 for me.  When you find out you’re pregnant, don’t tell Dan until that evening.  I don’t learn well.

Flashback to 2012:  I again told Dan I was pregnant with Archer in the morning right after I took the pregnancy test… again….  yup, stupid.  I was THRILLINGLY happy; he just stared at me like I had a second head sprouting from my neck and just said “Really?”  No response.  I could actually see his brain trying to come online in his eyes.  The computer was booting, but before that, there was no emotion short of the repressed growl.  I married the emotional equivalent of a pissy sock if it’s before 10 am.

Soooo anyways, July 18, 2014…  I’m sitting on the edge of the teeny pepto bismol pink bathtub in the tiny house with just the one tiny bathroom with a pedestal sink and tiny closets for bedrooms, just big enough for the 4 of us… barely… holding a positive pregnancy test, hormonal, just having gotten sick, feeling green and scared and not sure how we’d afford it and where the baby would sleep, and what I would tell my boss and what I was going to do.

And I got up shakily and went into the bedroom where the snoring troll was laying in our king sized bed and I just burst into tears.   Loud, unattractive, wet, sloppy tears from big red puffy eyes.  I have a crappy history of telling my husband I’m pregnant.  I can’t manage a happy surprise with him.  Not even once. Dan sat up, still sleepy, and had NO idea what to do with me.  I handed him the test and just sobbed for the next 10 minutes.  I think I was trying to be coherent, but yeah… I failed.   We’re talking GROSS crying.  Not just not pretty crying.  Oh no….  I was EPIC.  Tears and snot and me trying to ask where we’d put the baby while getting his shirt all wet and ew…. just ew.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not AT ALL that we wouldn’t LOVE and desperately WANT this baby… but OMG WE COULDN’T AFFORD ANOTHER CHILD!!!   Or so my pea brain thought…   As I may have mentioned, I’m an idiot.

Anyways, it took me all of a day to get over the fear and be all sorts of excited.  Cause we were having a BABY!   And so the name game began.  On day 1.  Cause I can.  If God wants to give me a human being to name something weird, I’m going to oblige.  Seriously, I named a cat “Benvolio” so I could call him Benny.  Why did God give me kids again?

OH, AND I did use all three of those pregnancy tests!  I felt like a magician!  It was a magic trick ONLY I could pull off!  Pee on the stick and BAM!  It reads positive!  Dan couldn’t do it!  Most people couldn’t unless they were pregnant!  It was my own personal magic trick!  And boy did I love that!

Granted, we still had a one year old baby and a 6 year old and we had no idea where everyone would be sleeping or where the $$ for the hospital bills were going to come from, but details… meh… they’ll figure themselves out. And figure themselves out they did.  Dan switched jobs, got a better paying 9-5 job right next to the daycare, I got a promotion, we sold the teeny house and got one with TWO BATHROOMS and a bigger kitchen and a safe backyard in a great school district.  OH, and the tub is big enough for an actual adult to use!  Not that I’ve had a chance for a soak, but OMG, once I sell all the children to the gypsies, I’m so taking a bubble bath!

And that baby, my third, a little girl we named Vivianne!!!  (pronounced Vivi-Anne, cause this is the South and that’s how it’s pronounced.  Get it right!) Man oh man.  Vivi is such a delight.  She’s all smiles and brightness and chubs and rolls and joy.  Of all my children, she’s the one that seems to have all of her daddy’s goodness in her.  Sophie and Archer are incredible and wonderful and I love them both so much.  But they also each have a little of that wicked that comes from me…  and they have always had a little bit of that stuff.  Which, in this day and age is probably a good thing.  They are both going to be just evil enough to be able to forge through this world and take it by storm.  Think Sith Lord, but incognito.  But Vivi is the pure good that Dan is.  She is the Padawan to his Jedi.  So Sophie and Archer will be there to protect their little baby sister… and she will bring balance to the force… or something like that.

We have prevented another pregnancy this time.  While they were in there taking Vivi out, we had them snip and burn and tie and whatever it is they do.  But that whole 99% success rate that comes with having your tubes tied just irks me.  When I asked the doctor to just yank the plumbing while he was in there getting Vivi out, he looked at me like I’d lost my mind.   What?  I’m not planning on using that crap again.  And it’s a pain in the stomach, quite literally.  Especially when a cyst bursts!

I know my family’s history of having rare things happen to us.  That 1% might not seem like much to you guys, but to me, it’s a very large 1%.  That number gives me nightmares.   The women in my family attract the weird things.  Sophie’s cancer is a rare cancer.  I mean RARE.  I’m not supposed to be able to get pregnant without help.  But I have.  I’m a functioning adult aspie (Asperger’s) who happened to find and marry another aspie 6 years before either of us were diagnosed as aspies.  We look at your “odds” and scoff.  You take your pesky 1%.  I’ll shred that crap!

Anyways, so here I sit.  On the far side of primary infertility, having fought back all the horribleness that is wanting but not being able to have children.  And I feel triumphant… and kinda guilty.  We BEAT IT.  Against ALL the odds.  But now I actually am scared of getting pregnant again.  A fourth baby scares the ever loving crap out of me.  I’m already nearly insane from having three.  Half the time I look like I haven’t showered and don’t know how to brush my hair.  I’m lucky if I know where the brush is and if I manage to put on eyeliner anymore.  I wore mismatched shoes to the grocery store on Saturday.  No joke.  I think the population at large just pities me when they see me on the street.  Honestly, someone didn’t think through ME being responsible for raising THREE children to adulthood.  I shouldn’t be trusted with a houseplant.  But I have three kids.

So now I’m wondering if this these worries about a fourth pregnancy is “normal” or if honestly I need to just face reality.  For me normal is going to be left of weird and far north of anything anyone else would want from the humans living in our home.  OR maybe I just need to shut up, get out of my head, and go make the kids dinner already before they start to form a small gang to hunt and fricassee the neighbor’s children.

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