Wednesday, April 27, 2022

3.5 Months Later (NIAW 2022 Post 1)

 If I were in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants or perhaps an old movie, the screen would flash "3.5 months later..." for a few seconds, and then we'd be right here. I posted on Facebook that it's National Infertility Awareness Week again, and I'm still infertile, but it is actually a good time to reestablish a non-academic writing routine.

I've thought about writing this post or any blog post for a while. After the miscarriage (which is what happened after my last post), I put as much of myself as I possibly could into working, writing my dissertation, and doing anything but remember that we're still living the nightmare that is infertility. I have been to three conferences in three states, caught up with old friends, made new friends, and picked up running again. I guess it's easy to fill up 3.5 months.

The day after our ultrasound appointment at the fertility clinic, I headed east to Georgia to stay with my mom while she had knee surgery. The day after that, she had her knee surgery, and I started the miscarriage. I've thought about how to write about it, but I don't really know how to put it. Compared to the intense stories I've read about other people, this one was about as "standard" and "mild" as possible...whatever consolation that is. Regardless, lying alone in my high school bedroom cramped up and bleeding on a cold January day was traumatic and unwelcome after everything we'd been through in 2021 and the three years before that. Actually, I can't think of any time I'd welcome that.

My marathoner spirit (also known as endurance) carries over to other areas of my life, especially the part where I tend to keep moving forward even if everything sucks and my whole body hurts. Richard, who has been the most amazing husband and support system through everything, finally spoke up and said he thought we needed a break from fertility treatments for our mental health if nothing else. Largely out of my somewhat irrational (but also largely rational) fear that I'm going to run out of eggs, I resisted at first but ended up agreeing. 

So, that's where we are right now. 

I told myself I wouldn't use any ovulation predictor kits or pursue fertility treatments until I scheduled my dissertation defense. So far, I've been true to my word, though my therapist reminds me that I'm allowed to break the deals I make with myself. I'm getting closer to scheduling my dissertation defense and am seriously considering doing the endometrial receptiva analysis (ERA -- the one where we do all of the stuff involved with a frozen embryo transfer except for transfer a frozen embryo) next month and look to another retrieval in the summer. We'll see.

I worried about March rolling around because that marked four years since we started trying to conceive. I joked last year that my infertility could have a bachelor's degree, but four years into this, I'm thinking some institution needs to go ahead and confer that. It's been a long road. Although I knew that IVF was exhausting, I hadn't realized how much I was worn out by the roller coaster of emotions; every time something seemed promising, we got worse news. Also, we had so many appointments! I itemized our taxes this year (get excited for a full financial disclosure on Friday), and my conservative estimate for mileage was that we made 45 trips (19 miles round trip) to Woman's Hospital. Similar to the miscarriage, I know other people have it way worse and don't have their fertility clinic in their hometown, but also...that's a lot of trips and time to have the outcome we had. 

The break has been good for both of us, and Richard has said he's ready to start again whenever I am. So, that's a good thing. One thing I have seen and heard about is how infertility can wreck or solidify a marriage, and I've been fortunate that we ended up on the "solidify" side of that situation. I blame our [in]fertility issues on myself because I have the low egg reserve, but Richard always frames them as "our" issues and never blames me. Sometimes I think about how he could've had a big family with someone else but got me instead, but I try not to think about that too much. When I was crying alone in my high school bedroom, I remembered times when I cried in the very same bed because of some dumb boy who didn't treat me well or didn't like me. Back in those days, I hoped so hard that I would find and marry someone who loved me unconditionally and treated me well, and I got that. Sometimes I take it for granted.

So, another thing I've worked on is nurturing my marriage and spending time with Richard. I guess it doesn't sound like he's been a priority between work and traveling, but we've had some good quality time together. Sometimes it's a quick dinner between when he wakes his up and when he leaves to work the night shift, but we've also made some little trips. We also tried our hand at tandem biking; it went great when he was in the front (in control) and was a disaster when I was in front. He didn't like it when I said I wasn't used to having an extra 250 pounds on the back of my bike. Here are some selfies of us at Lake Livingston a few weeks ago. You can't see in the photo, but I'm wearing a sweet tank top with a fish on it.
Three selfies of a white man and white woman: 1- both smiling, 2- man making a funny face, woman smiling, 3- both making a silly face

Something that made today great: My check engine light was on, but it was due to a loose gas cap and not an actual engine problem!
Time I woke up: 6:50 am