Thursday, October 27, 2011

"How do we go back?"

I love the discussion and thought-provocation that being part of an online community provides, especially when the members are all in the same proverbial boat. A couple of days ago, someone asked, “how do we go back?” meaning, how do we go back to the time of naivety and carelessness of trying to have a baby and forget all this junk that’s been added to our race to the invisible finish line?

It’s a good question, and I’ve pondered it often, as well. How do Buddy and I ever forget the things we know now? Can we even? Would we want to? Obviously, we can never un-know something, realistically, and I can’t just forget the last 18 months – or more crucially, the last 6 months – of IF and its impact on us. We can’t go back to the days of timing sex and thinking hopefully, “maybe this is the day we added to our family.” It more than likely isn’t going to happen that way anymore. The days of planning how I would tell him and how we would surprise our families have passed. The wonder and innocence of how two can become three is gone, and it’s replaced by an understanding of science, hormone levels, and luteal phases.

The fact of the matter is, as much as IF has taken from us, we’ve gotten something back. I know without a doubt, more so than I did before, that Buddy is the perfect man for me. Without all this, I’m not sure that we would know so much of the most tender parts of each other, especially at this point in our marriage. He wouldn’t probably know my deepest fears, and I wouldn’t know this comforting and compassionate side of him. I mean, I knew he was a good man and compassionate, but I’ve gotten to see him as a caretaker of my heart, not just of our home. I’ve seen his patience and his hurt. There is no life event like IF to compare all these resulting emotions to. I’ve seen a side of my husband that I never would know without IF, and I love him more for it.

I also wouldn’t have the knowledge I do, or the compassion for others. If I’d just gotten pregnant a few cycles in, I wouldn’t have needed to research the things I do. I wouldn’t know my body and my cycles as well, if at all. I wouldn’t have knowledge to share with others. I wouldn’t have sensitivity for other women who are dealing with IF, and may have made thoughtless comments. As much as I hate why I know the things I do, I can’t help but be thankful for all I’ve learned over the past year and a half.

I also wouldn’t have some of the friendships I do with other women. There is a community among those of us who struggle for children. There’s a sweetness and understanding for others who have to endure testing and treatment. Even without treatments, there’s an unspoken bond among us who have to wait while we watch others be blessed with what we wish for the most. Without them, I’d be alone. Lost. Without a sense of belonging or understanding or compassion. I’m eternally grateful for their kinship, and I simply wouldn’t have it without the last 18 months.

Obviously, we can’t go back in time. We can never go back to April 11, 2010 – the day before cycle 1 began – and know what our race would have in store. Our relationship is changed forever because of it, just as we are each changed as individuals. We can’t be carefree and na├»ve and always assume that sex makes a baby and that everyone always gets their chance to be a biological parent. We can’t just close our eyes to all we've seen, or our ears to all we've heard. The anxiety, fears and sadness can’t be un-felt. It’s a part of mine and Buddy’s marriage. Even if we someday have a baby, we’ll always have this to look back on as a part of the glue that holds us together, and we’ll always know it made us stronger. We’ll know how lucky we are and remember to be grateful. If there is never a baby, it’s a part of our story. A painful one, but a part of it nonetheless. What matters is what we do with it, and how we move on from it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Confirmed

As promised, Buddy had his blood tested last week for a myriad of things, including thyroid function, low testosterone, liver and kidney function, and cholesterol. The results, as suspected, showed low testosterone. Not quite as suspected was a high level of triglycerides. We can fix that - he's been exercising, we eat low carb. We'll just have to be more conscienscious and work with the doctor to get it righted.

What's not such an easy and clear cut answer is the testosterone. If TTC wasn't an issue, the treatment would be supplements, likely via injection. The problem is, when foreign testosterone is introduced, the male body stops producing it on its own, thinking the levels are high enough, and shuts down the factory. The result, generally, is a decreased sperm count. Clearly, with very low numbers already, this could be disastrous for conception. The fertility-friendly treatment is made difficult by our insurance options and isn't guaranteed to be successful, particulary with IVF off the table.

We find ourselves at a crossroads, one we feel we've been at - at least mentally - for a couple months. What do we do? I've researched the issue, but obviously I realize that only a doctor who knows Buddy's test results and medical history can weigh in on what they think will happen. Even that may only be an educated guess. Quite frankly, we don't know how we feel about moving forward lately. There was a time when we were all about fixing stuff and moving forward to pursue IUI. Now, we've had time to weigh the benefits of life without kids. Some of it is very appealing. Okay, a lot of it. We don't know how we feel about having to put so much effort into something that's supposed to be so easy, or if it's better for us to just let life happen. There's some mind changing going on, and there's also a defense mechanism kicking in.

I know nothing has to be a final decision, but I also don't know what to hope for, honestly. Right now, I'd rather have my lover back, my complete husband. I don't know where this will take us, but I know that things just got that much more tangled.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Will I Ever Grow Up?

This may not be TTC related, but that may be a welcome break from the focus on my ute and Buddy's swimmers. I've been thinking lately that it seems weird to be trying to have a baby. Weird, because it's such a grown up thing to do.

I remember thinking when I was young - like 14 "young" - that 30 was so old. Yet, here I am, 30 years and 3.5 months old, and I feel like I'm still a kid sometimes. I have a career, two dogs, and a husband. We've bought cars, furniture, a house and custom artwork. I've found grey hairs. I cook almost every night, wash sheets weekly, and mop floors. I have a life insurance policy. All the things "grown ups" do. Still, I think about some of those things and feel that I'm playing house in a way. Seriously, who let us buy a home? It boggles my mind sometimes that some bank lent me over $100K to buy a house. And I have a meal plan? That doesn't involve take-out? Who am I? Don't get me started on the whole being married thing. Don't get me wrong - I adore Buddy and I love our marriage, but sometimes, it's like, "I'm a... wife?!" There are times when it still feels like we could just be playing house... in a house. With a mortgage. And a sprinkler system. And a garage door. Eeek.

It makes me think about trying to have a baby and if that's what it will take for me to finally say, "yep, I'm an adult." I wonder if - if we ever have a baby - we'll leave the hospital with me thinking, "you're letting me take this home? I'm not old enough for this. Are you nuts?" I don't always feel responsible enough for a baby, despite the fact that Buddy and I have both taken care of ourselves for years. I know we'd figure it out - even without manuals - and we'd be fine, but I just wonder how long there will be a part of me that will think we're just kids ourselves.

Will I ever feel grown up? What's it going to take?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Lemonade

As much as IF sucks, I can't deny that there are some things I feel fortunate (?) to be missing out on. They're kind of stupid, in the grand scheme of things, but they're still things I'm glad at times to not be dealing with. And hey, you have to make lemonade when life hands you lemons, right?

Maternity Jeans. From observing the pregnant women in my office and their selection of jeans, I'd be screwed. Has anyone else noticed that maternity pants in general seem to only come in one length, and that one length seems to be 2" too short so everyone seems to be waiting on a flood? I don't have incredibly long legs, but I always by long length jeans. Maternity jeans would be an issue for me, I think.

Mom Wars. Breastfeeding, cloth diapering, vaccinating, baby wearing, circumcising, homemade organic fooding. It seems like any and every topic in terms of babies these days starts a mommy war. Everyone has an opinion, and no one else with a differing one can be right. On some things, I have an opinion, on others, I don't. Mostly, I am open-minded to whatever would work best for me, Buddy, and our offspring. If breastfeeding doesn't work, fine. Formula feed. I'm not opposed to changing plans when our chosen method doesn't work for our family. But it seems like there's always someone who would be ready and willing to squash that thinking and say, "no, it has to be done this way or your baby will grow three eyes/be autistic (for example since it seems like everyone wants to link everything to autism the last few years)/be behind in development." I can honestly say I'm perfectly fine with not having to have anything to do with any of that right now.

Control over life. With a baby comes loss of control, especially in the early days. I don't sleep in often, but today I lazed in bed cuddling with Buddy and the pups until 9am. I ate cereal when I was hungry, and I haven't showered yet because I don't feel like it yet. Last night I spent over an hour doing crafts and sipping wine before settling in to play video games with my husband. That would all change with a wee one. I'd gladly rather have a howling little thing to keep me awake and out of bed, give up breakfast and not shower for a week, but I love that our life has freedom to do what we want when we want.

Childcare. I'll be honest. One thing that really freaks me out about the thought of a baby is childcare. I would never be able to not work financially, and I'm not even sure I'd want to be a stay-at-home mom. But something about having to find someone to trust with my baby for 9 hours a day is daunting. How would I even do that? And what if it falls through? A fellow blog friend recently had to find new childcare for her son and it was really stressful. I'm honestly glad I don't have to worry about that.

Splitting attention with the pups. Everyone says that you can love your pets whole-heartedly before kids, but as soon as baby comes along, they get forgotten. The thought just breaks my heart. I can't imagine not giving our girls the love and attention we give them. I get sad when I allow myself to think from their point of view, wondering if they would be sad that we would push them away or shush them in favor of the comfort of the baby. I don't ever want our dogs to feel outed or demoted in importance in our home.

Also, on a side note, it discourages me when people tell me that my dogs aren't kids and I have no concept of loving a child because my dogs aren't humans. I get that I have no concept of that (thanks for the reminder), but without children, they're the closest thing I have. I care for them, protect them, keep them healthy and happy. I'd be devastated if something happened to them. They are our babies, and they'll always be the first little creatures we were ever responsible for.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The deal with health insurance

A few weeks ago, I was lurking on a message board and found a thread of confessions. They're not uncommon as a Friday feature, and they sometimes get heated. One of the confessions on that board was something along the lines of thinking that health insurance shouldn't cover IF treatments when there are babies and children out there who already need homes. My jaw dropped - first at the insurance issue, and then at the implication that adoption should be favored over IVF or other ART. I couldn't let it slide and had to comment. I have already discussed our stance on adoption, but here's some insight on the health insurance part of it.

What many people don't seem to realize is that IF coverage isn't as common as they think. I am very fortunate in that my company gives a lifetime max of $5,000 for treatments, and most of my testing was covered as well. Most meds used in treatment are covered on my prescription plan. Buddy, on the other hand, has no IF coverage, and many meds used in treatment of MFI are also not covered. I'm lucky in that my company is headquartered in a state which requires at least some coverage. It's part of why, even though I ache for new challenges and am underpaid, I'll exhaust all opportunities within the company before looking outside and risking IF coverage. My point is, people who gripe that insurance is covering IVF and other treatments really don't know what they're talking about, because many couples lack coverage and are either completely out-of-pocket, or have coverage for only the testing but not any treatment. Sleep tight, critics, your insurance premiums are more than likely not being driven by infertiles taking advantage of IF coverage.

Another thing people don't consider is the very thing that health insurance is supposed to be for: health. Infertility isn't generally spontaneous. There's usually a reason, whether it be MFI, PCOS, endometriosis, blocked tubes, or anovulation. These are all issues that cause the reproductive system to perform sub-optimally. Even unexplained IF is an indication that something in one or both partners' systems isn't working right. Sub-optimal health is precisely how I would define illness. Therefore, infertility is an illness, and is often driven or caused by other illnesses. Just like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and any other illness that you might consider a health problem. So why should my health insurance not cover me for my health issue, but it should cover treatment for cancer or diabetes?

Additionally, many health problems that drive IF have other symptoms, such as very heavy or painful periods, weight gain or inability to lose weight, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, or depression. If someone with any other health problem was experiencing these things, they'd be advised to be treated. Whether or not a woman is trying to conceive, I feel we all have a right to be treated for health problems and feel our best. I fail to see how it is any different when the treatment of these problems also is for the purpose of fixing the cause of lack of procreation.

I don't really have a clever or clean way to wrap this up. It's an emotional subject for me, because I see women every day who have to choose their treatment based on what will be covered. I don't feel that anyone should have to choose financial stability over their health.