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Thank you lovely ladies for all of the support regarding my previous few posts. It is always nice to know that you are not alone and that there are others who understand what you’re going through and can offer advice of their own.

A couple of days after my Blubbering Mess post, I had another small breakdown and my husband sat down and talked everything out with me. I told him that I’d never felt so alone in all of my life and I felt like he didn’t even love me anymore. I told him that I was frustrated with how things were going and that what I needed most was to be given words of encouragement and to be told how much he loved me. My guess is that it was a combo of him doing those things for me and my hormones leveling out as I immediately felt better and continue to feel really good. Bye, bye baby blues! We’ve been really enjoying life since that point.

I did end up sending my friend an e-mail about her infertility struggle. I told her that I was well aware that it was none of my business, but I wanted her to know that we also struggled to conceive and I was there for her if she ever wanted to talk. I didn’t hear anything from her for five days and was convinced that I had somehow offended, embarrassed or angered her. Last night we were together with some of our other friends and she seemed as cordial as usual, so then I wondered if she even got my e-mail in the first place. On our way out to our cars at the end of the evening she pulled me aside and told me that she got my e-mail. She said she just wanted to talk to me about it in person and that’s why she hadn’t responded. She said that she really doesn’t have anyone to talk about it with who can directly relate to what she’s going through. Her family is aware, but none of them ever dealt with infertility, so they can’t put themselves in her place. We’re going to get together to talk next week and hopefully I can provide some sort of an outlet for her.

Nina is gaining weight like a champ. She was born at 8lbs 7oz and rapidly lost weight to the point where she was 7lbs 5oz the night before we left the hospital. Because she’d lost 12% of her body weight at that point, it was recommended that we supplement her to help her get back on track with her weight gain. She would eat on one side and then I would use a syringe filled with formula with a narrow tube attached to it and thread that into her mouth as she ate on the second side. The formula did the trick and she maintained her weight by the time we checked out of the hospital. We continued supplementing her until her two day post discharge check up where she was up to 7lb 7oz and the doctor determined that we could stop supplementing her. We just went back two days ago on her one month birthday and she’s now up to 9lbs 6oz, so she’s caught back up nicely.

Breastfeeding is going well and as such we were able to introduce both a pacifier and bottle this week without confusion. It will be nice for other people to be able to feed her with a bottle so that I can be away from her for more than a couple of hours at a time if necessary. It will also be nice for Mark to be able to take part in feeding her and be able to bond with her that way. He got such a kick out of giving her the first bottle and can’t wait to do it again. On a related note, we’re not 100% sold on the bottles we have (The First Years Breastflow) and are looking to try other bottles. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Nina turned one month old two days ago. It is nearly impossible for me to believe that she’s been in the outside world for four weeks already. It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home. I know that everyone says that the time goes by so quickly and to be sure to enjoy every moment of it, but this first month has gone by faster than I could have ever imagined. I am sure that a large part of it has to do with the lack of sleep and the fact that each day seems to pass by in the blink of an eye. We’ve done our best to get out and about as much as possible and I think that has made the time go by quickly as well. Nina’s been to over 10 restaurants, been geocaching on two separate occasions and to the dog park a few times. We love integrating her into every aspect of our lives and can’t imagine life without her now.

Being a mom is more than I could have ever hoped for. I have so immensely enjoyed this first month getting to know our daughter. My husband has less than two weeks of work left at his current job and then we’ll have six weeks off together before I go back to work to enjoy Nina and make memories that we will fondly look back on and smile. We’ve got lots of baseball tickets for this spring and we’ll be taking a trip out to Seattle to introduce Nina to her aunt, uncle and nieces. We plan to take more local trips around our state with her as well and I’m sure there will be lots of other fun things to come in the next two months as well. As much fun as we have planned for the future, I have to slow down and remember to savor the here and now too. We’ve waited so long for this…I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

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I feel awful. Just absolutely awful.

One of the girls who co-hosted my baby shower (let’s call her Liz) came over to our house to spend some time with Nina and us a couple of nights ago. We got to talking about how we are the first ones in our group of friends to have a baby and so we’re not really sure how the dynamic of the group and our involvement with our friends will change now that Nina’s in the picture. It’s not that we don’t want to hang out with our friends, it’s just that we don’t want to impose and bring her to events where she’s not welcome.

Liz pointed out that another couple in our extended group of friends is currently pregnant and while Mark and I aren’t very close with them (because they’re newer to our group and we just don’t know them well yet), at least it’s another couple that obviously is open to kids. Then she went on to mention another couple (we’ll call them Joe and Mary) in our group of friends and said something to the effect of “they’d have kids if they could.” I’d heard that this couple had some financial struggles a while back, so I asked for clarification on her statement, asking if she meant that finances were holding them back from having kids. She kind of stopped and looked guilty and said, “Oh, I thought that Mary had told you about it.” I could see the recognition in her face that she wasn’t really going to be able to get out of the situation without telling us what she meant, so she said “They’ve been working with a fertility doctor for the past two years. Mary seemed to give the impression that it’s an issue with Joe.”

At this point I could feel my face flushing. I haven’t told Liz, nor anyone else in this group of friends about our struggle to conceive. I realize that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t already know; our friends are pretty sharp people and it wouldn’t be unthinkable that one of them put two and two together and figured us out, but we haven’t told any of them.

I tried my best not to give anything away, but I’m sure that my increasingly red face probably said more than I did…it’s just a question of whether or not Liz noticed. And at this point, I’m not sure that I really care anymore if people know what we went through. My motivation for not telling people was mostly because I didn’t want to have to deal with people asking questions of us all of the time, asking for updates on treatment and cycles and what the terminology meant. Now that we are past that, I feel much less protective of the entire thing. But regardless of how I feel, it wasn’t the time to come out to Liz, certainly not without discussing it with Mark first. I tried to play it off nonchalantly by saying how awful it was that they were having difficulties and the subject was quickly changed to something else.

But it ate at me. Mary was one of the co-hosts of my baby shower, throwing it at her house. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult that must have been for her. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to have me around the past 6 months in my pregnant state. I count myself extremely lucky in the fact that we were the first ones of our main group of friends to be pregnant, which meant that I didn’t have to deal with any of my friends getting pregnant before me. I can only imagine how difficult that was for her. In fact, we actually told all of our friends about the pregnancy at their house. It was a sports themed movie night and Mark and I put together a little photo slideshow of baseball games that we’d been to with our friends and at the end we had a slide that said “Baby L coming soon to a centerfield near you…anticipated draft date – February 2010.” As soon as that last slide came up, Mary whipped around in her seat with her jaw dropped and just stared at me. I thought her reaction was a bit strange at the time. While I figured that she was just surprised at the news, a small part of me wondered if there was more going on there than just surprise. She didn’t look hurt or upset or anything, so I assumed that I was just reading into things maybe a bit too much.

Over the course of my pregnancy she was always interested in what was going on with me and talked frequently about her cousin who was due around the same time as me. The fact that she seemed perfectly OK with both my and her cousin’s pregnancy had me pretty well convinced that I had completely projected my infertile feelings into her reaction to our pregnancy news. Even though her potential infertility had crossed my mind, it still completely took me by surprise when Liz said they’d been seeing a fertility doctor for two years. My heart broke for them, and specifically her. I wanted nothing more than to drive over to their house and give her a big hug and tell her that I understand. I wanted to take back my fantastic baby shower to spare her the pain of the experience. I wanted to take back all of the pregnancy talk that I did when I was around them. I want for her to know that she’s not alone and I’m there for her if she wants to talk to someone who can relate. I want to be there for her if she needs it.

The shock of finding out that they are dealing with infertility makes me realize just how common infertility is. And it made me realize that just because I always felt like we were the only ones in our group of friends that had to deal with the absolute hell that is infertility, I couldn’t possibly have been further from the truth. And it made me realize that unless people let you in, you may never know the pain that lies beneath.

It’s a subject that nearly every infertility blogger writes about at some point. The reason why is simple: there is no avoiding it.

The positive that has come out of my struggle with fertility is that I have found myself surrounded by an amazing group of women, both on the internet though my buddy group and blog, and in my everyday life, through my real life support group. While all of the women who have been a part of my infertility journey have added something special and unique to the experience, it’s the women in my real life support group who have made the biggest impact on my life.

These are women who have been with me through thick and thin and can relate to the struggles that we’ve endured. We clicked as a group, in a way that I didn’t think was possible for a group of women brought together by one small common link. They were there to provide listening ears, arms for hugs and humor and invaluable laughs when I was down. They were there for me when I felt like there was no hope. There were there when it felt like no one else in the world could possibly understand. They provided hope and they understood. They picked me up when I was down and provided me with something to look forward to every two weeks. They became my friends. I always left our meetings feeling uplifted, refreshed, renewed and with the energy to face our next infertility battle.

And one by one, miracle by miracle, babies were conceived, grew for 9 months and were born. One by one, women realized the dream that they had been wishing for for months and sometimes even years. One by one the number of those still waiting for their miracle slowly decreased.

It seemed crude to compartmentalize the women into “haves” and “have nots,” but in reality there’s no other way to do it. The “haves” still wished and hoped for miracles, but this time for their friends, not themselves. The “have nots” desperately wished that it would be “their turn” next. Eventually the “haves” outnumbered the “have nots.”

Shortly before I became pregnant, I was discussing with one of the two remaining “have nots” how things were different with our group. While I knew that everyone was still rooting for us and I still felt supported, things just weren’t the same. I missed the common thread that we all had: trying to have a baby. We discussed potentially recruiting new members who could provide more of the “still in the thick of it” support. We discussed trying out a different local support group. We discussed meeting as just the three of us. In the end, we didn’t do any of those things. We agreed that our group, as it was in the past, as it was at that very moment, and as it would be in the future, was most important to us. The relationship that we had formed was unlike anything we thought that we could replicate with new members, a different group, or just as the three of us.

Eventually, and seemingly miraculously, I crossed over from the “have nots” to the “haves.” This meant that there we only two women left in our group still trying to become pregnant. Even though I never believed it would be possible, the pain and sorrow of the past two and a half years slowly started to fade away into the background. While I don’t think that I will ever forget how awful that time was for me, I can no longer feel with the same intensity what it was like to go through each and every day wanting and waiting. Unconsciously my heart has moved to a different place, a place that has forgotten the mire of infertility, a place where hope has replaced fear and dread. My heart aches for these women, but I can’t honestly say that my heart aches WITH them.

And that is what makes me feel so guilty. I always thought that if the day came that I was actually pregnant, that I would never forget. How could I? But now here I am. I’m finally on the other side, and everything that I thought would be true just isn’t. I feel like a traitor, like I abandoned my friends. It’s as though I traded what I wanted the most and sacrificed knowing, understanding and having the ability to support my friends who are still trying. And the part that makes me the saddest is that the two who are left are the two who have been trying the longest. One woman for the entirety of her marriage, nearly six years, and the other woman somewhere between four and five years. And both are nearing the end of their rope; ready to give up entirely on having children in any way. Sadly, none of the rest of the women in our group have ever been where these two women are now. Yes, we all dealt with the emotions of infertility, but none of us for as long as these two women, nor were any of us ever at the point of seriously considering a childless life. While I was never able to relate to the length of time that they’d been dealing with infertility, at least I was able to share in their emotions and feel the camaraderie of still being in the depths of infertility together. Now I can’t even provide them with that comfort.

I feel like a failure in that respect. I feel guilty that I have what they want, and even more than that, I feel as though I’m not able to bring them the comfort and support that they brought to me over the past year and a half, and that hurts. Every day it seems more and more apparent to me that the scars of infertility, while seemingly invisible, reach deeper than I could ever imagine.

I think that I’ve mentioned in the past that telling people that I’m pregnant has actually been a terrifying prospect for me. A part of me really enjoyed having a secret that very few people other than us knew. It was fun and it was ours. But beyond just having our own little secret, I was really, really nervous to tell people. I’m sure that a lot of those nerves and fear stems from all that we’ve had to go through to get to this point and I was afraid that people would ask me questions that would make me uncomfortable or would put me in an awkward position. We hadn’t told anyone other than two of my friends and both of our parents about our infertility struggles, so the entire process of conceiving a baby has, for the most part, been one huge secret. For two and a half years, it’s been such a huge part of my life that the thought of letting all of our friends, family and co-workers know that I’m pregnant felt like losing a big important part of who I’ve become.

I kept putting the announcement off for one reason or another. Mark was ready to tell people around 10 weeks, but I really wanted to wait until after our NT scan, just for that extra reassurance. Then after the scan I wanted to wait until the blood work portion came back normal, which was another week. Even then I still wasn’t really ready to announce it to the world, but regardless of my fears and nerves, the time had come. We couldn’t put it off any longer.

There were two significant family events (a family reunion and an 80th birthday party) on Mark’s side that we felt were great opportunities to tell family that we don’t often see. Those went pretty well, with the news starting with one person and eventually just kind of making its way around to others, so it wasn’t really a barrage of people all finding out at the same time. And it WAS uncomfortable for me. Apparently I must have either looked fat or maybe my big, baggy shirt gave me away, but before we had even been at the reunion for 5 minutes, and without us knowing, one of Mark’s aunts asked Mark’s dad if I was pregnant and he confirmed it. We sat down as Mark’s aunt was leaving the table and Mark’s dad told us what had just happened. She came back after lunch and slyly asked us when we were going to have a baby, as if it just occurred to her out of the blue. I just stared at Mark and waited for him to say something and he eventually said “February!” Of course she feigned surprise, though she seemed genuinely delighted, and thus the news started to spread. And I was hit with all of the questions that I dreaded having to answer. How are you feeling? Are you tired? Are you sick? Will you find out the sex?

After spending two and a half years hiding what we’d been going through, all of these questions felt like a huge intrusion of my privacy. And I know that most any woman who easily conceived wouldn’t think twice about all the questions, and may even be thrilled to be the center of attention, my reaction was the opposite. I just wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I think that my fear of saying more than I wanted to played a part in that, but I’ve also noticed that I’ve become a much more shy and conservative person over the past few years. Whereas in the past I would have loved all of the attention, now I just shy away from it.

But like I said, the news spread somewhat slowly, so it was just one or two people at a time coming over to congratulate us and ask questions. Telling our co-workers was anything but that.

In hindsight, I really set myself up for exactly what I got in the end. Like I said, I’m not thrilled about having to “announce” anything, and the thought of just saying to my co-workers one day “Guess what! I’m pregnant!” didn’t really appeal to me. So I stole Polly’s idea and made a couple of batches of pink and blue cupcakes to use to make our announcement. The plan was to bring in the cupcakes, send out an e-mail to key co-workers saying that we brought in cupcakes because we were celebrating and then having a sign next to the cupcakes explaining that we’re having a baby. I thought it was such a great idea; I wouldn’t have to actually TELL anyone that I’m pregnant and that people would drift by throughout the day to get their cupcake and all would be good.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Apparently people REALLY like cupcakes! Within two minutes of sending out the e-mail there were at least 10 people standing outside my cube all talking and asking questions. It was the exact opposite of what I had expected, which, had I reflected further on my great plan, I would have figured out. While it wasn’t what I had expected, it actually worked out alright. Since nearly everyone came over within the first 5-10 minutes, I got most of the attention and questions out of the way early and was free to relax for the rest of the day.

There are a couple friends yet who don’t know, and we’re making plans to tell them within the next week or so, but for the most part everyone knows now. I do feel better about not having to hide anymore, like a small weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, but part of me will always miss having our little secret.

Ok, so maybe I was a bit melodramatic with my last post. Really, the pregnancy announcement wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected it to be. I think that suspecting she was going to announce her pregnancy allowed me to deal with it on my own terms beforehand and I wasn’t at all caught off guard when she told us. It’s like GI Joe said: “knowing is half the battle” and knowing in advance (or thinking I knew at least) really helped to soften the blow. Plus I’m sure the wine helped too.

So when I arrived home Mark asked if there was any news to which I replied “yes.” He asked if she was pregnant and I said “yes.” I decided to take the dogs for a quick walk to the library to return a book and get some fresh air. After I got back, I noticed that there was a new jigsaw puzzle and a bag of jelly beans sitting on the couch waiting for me. My fantastic husband bought them for me during his lunch break since he knew I would probably be upset once I got back from dinner with the girls. As insignificant in cost as these two items were, they were priceless to me as a symbol of how much Mark cares about me and wants me to be happy. The puzzle and jelly beans absolutely made everything better at that moment because it was just another reminder of what a great husband Mark is and how fortunate I am to have him as the father of our children. He is so great, and I am so very lucky to have him.

So fast forward to last night, when I had arranged yet another Girls Night Out at the Melting Pot, this time with my support group. Oh my gosh. I literally cannot remember the last time I had so much fun and laughed so hard. I honestly cannot imagine where I would be without these girls, probably in the depths of despair. The amazing support and understanding that they bring to my life is such a wonderful gift and I am so thankful that I found them. What I find interesting about our little group is that it’s nothing like what I thought it would be, or even what I picture other support groups to be like. When I think of support groups I think of a dark, depressing space and lots of sad discussions, crying and “why me’s?” Our meetings are anything but that. And while there are definitely times when there are tears and questioning, I find that laughing and smiling far outweighs those sad moments.

My support group really is like therapy for me. I always leave in a better mood, with a clearer mindset and a happy heart, and for that I am eternally thankful.

She heard the heartbeat last week and they’re officially out of the first trimester. Nothing better than hearing a friend talk about how nothing tasted good and how she had to go out and buy new bras since the girls were getting too big while you’re busy bleeding through a super plus tampon from your second failed IVF.

I love you Chardonnay (actually, I don’t really love Chardonnay at all, it’s just the only white wine they had on special today).

Alright, enough moping. Moving on with life.

Tonight is Girls Night Out at the Melting Pot with a couple of my friends from high school. We aren’t super close anymore, but try to get together once a month or so to catch up and keep in touch. While I should be looking forward to yummy fondue (yeah, that “you can’t eat anything that tastes good” diet of mine is out the window!!!) and good times with my friends, I have a hunch that one of them is going to announce her pregnancy tonight. The cryptic Facebook status updates and her calling up out of the blue to request we get together for dinner has me convinced she has news for us.

This particular friend told us in early 2008 that she and her husband were going to start trying one month after they got married, which was in June. We found out in November that she had been pregnant, but sadly had a missed miscarriage. When she told us about the miscarriage, which was when she first told us about the pregnancy at all, she said that they would start trying again as soon as they could. I knew it was only a matter of time before she got pregnant again, though I kept telling myself that by the time she was pregnant again, I would be pregnant too. Well we all know how well my plan to get pregnant has gone. Two IVF cycles after she announced her miscarriage and I’m still not there yet.

Anyway, the thought of her announcing her pregnancy makes my stomach turn. As I’m sure most who have struggled with infertility can relate to, pregnancy announcements are not something I look forward to. I hate that other people can so easily achieve what I’ve been trying to do for over two years. I hate that they get to experience things that I can only dream of. I hate that I’m being left behind by my own dreams, hopes and desires. I hate that I’m powerless to change my own situation.

Of course I will be happy for her, but at the same time I know that I will be absolutely miserable for myself. This announcement will bring to the surface all of the unhealthy emotions of anxiety, envy, stress, jealousy and unfairness that I have been trying to eliminate from my daily existence. Those are things that I still haven’t figured out how to successfully deal with in a rational manner. Who am I kidding? I haven’t even figured out how to deal with them in an irrational matter. My initial reaction is to avoid the situation, but that won’t get me anywhere. I can’t avoid reality forever. Mark pointed out that she’s probably less than three months along at this point, so she likely won’t even look pregnant yet, which is helpful. It will be infinitely more difficult for me to handle as the months go by and she gets bigger and bigger. For some reason, it’s the pregnancy itself which is the most painful thing for me to endure. Once the baby is born, things become easier for me to handle again. I guess maybe it’s just because I so passionately want to experience pregnancy. To watch others experience what I’ve been waiting for for so long is such a struggle for me.

And it makes me feel like such an asshole for feeling the way I do. But I just can’t help it.

Thank god for drink specials for Girls Night Out…I’m going to need it.

I had a crazy, crazy dream the other night. The girls from my online support group who already had babies were having a play date for their kids. Somehow I found out about it and crashed the party despite the fact that I had no kid to participate in the play date. Suddenly the mothers were no where to be found and it was just me and the kids, so I decided to invite some of my friends over.

As in a typical dream, the kids somehow vanished and were no longer there, and all of my friends had disappeared too. It was just me and my husband sitting in the house. Apparently at some point I had decided to make muffins (I AM on a serious muffin kick lately), and had managed to spill a very large pool of oil all over the floor as well as other messes in the kitchen. Just as I was going to clean it up, the couple whose house we were at pulled up in the driveway. I walked outside to meet them and the husband commented on how someone had made a bonfire in the front yard and had left a whole slew of beer cans with teeth attached to them (huh?) out there by the fire. This was news to me because my friends had all been inside; I wasn’t even aware that anything had even gone down outside.

Anyway, occurred to me that they should probably be mad at me since there was now a burnt circle in their lawn and the house was a mess. But they just looked at me with sad faces and I realized that they felt they couldn’t be mad at me because I was infertile and had no kids of my own. Their pity for me was enough for them to look past the damage to their house. It was better to have kids and a messy house and burnt lawn than to be infertile. They just started to clean the house without saying anything to me. Very strange and awkward.

Then I woke up. Good lord, I can’t even escape my infertility when I’m sleeping? I’m sure that there’s loads of good things to be learned and taken from this dream, but all I’m taking from it is that infertility sucks.

When I logged into Facebook this morning, I saw that one of my friends (it just happens to be on the one referenced in this post) had participated in a “note” called “Everything you always wanted to know about our first born.” The instructions read ” Here you go mommies – a different kind of survey for a change – it’s all about your first (or only) born! Just copy and paste it in a new note for yourself!” Of course I had to read it just out of curiosity. Interesting, nothing too exciting, moving on with my day.

I signed in to check my e-mail account later in the day and found out that another friend (the friend referenced in this post) had not only participated in this note, but also tagged in me in the note. WHAT? Seriously? I could be wrong, but last time I checked, I’ve never given birth, or even been pregnant.

The very interesting part of this is that the friend who tagged me in this post is one of very few people who know what we’re going through and that we’re doing IVF. She’s aware that we’ve been trying for over two years. She knows what a struggle it’s been for us. And she had to try for 11 months for her son, so it’s not like the struggle to conceive is completely foreign to her.

I just can’t fathom why in the world she would tag me for something like this. I know that she only tagged me as a friend so that I could look at it, not participate in it, but it still feels like such a slap in the face. And to know that she’s aware of how much we went kids and still tag me just boggles my mind.

Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and say REALLY?!?

It’s time for another sporadic blog update. I realized that I’m a really crappy blogger when I don’t have anything going on fertility-wise. But this time I have a somewhat valid excuse. You see, about a month and a half ago, one of my best friends told me that she’s very seriously considering filing for divorce. Then, just a few days later, we found out that our favorite couple to do “couple things” with are getting a divorce also. As it turns out, the women in both situations are simply not in love with their husbands anymore. These two tidbits of information came as a HUGE shock to us; I would never have seen either one coming. Apparently neither of the husbands saw it coming either as both claim to be completely caught off guard by the whole thing.

When we first got the news, we were in the heart of our last IVF cycle and I was admittedly a bit distracted by my own situation to really ponder and come to terms with what was going on with my friends. Once our cycle was over, the realization of everything that was going on hit me hard.

Over the past couple of years I’ve fallen into the habit of referring to having a baby as “the one thing that I want most,” which I now realize is just not true. What I really want most is to have a happy life with my husband, whom I value more than anyone else on this earth. I realized that in my desperation to have a baby, I was sacrificing my relationship with the one person that I hold most dear to me. What good would it do me to finally get pregnant, but at the expense of my marriage? I would be infinitely less happy to be pregnant with my marriage in shambles versus happily married and no children. I honestly feel that I could live a happy life without children, but only if my husband were by my side. I guess I can sum it up by saying that I just need to focus less on what I don’t have, and more on what I do have.

Since we’re on a break in between IVF cycles, I’ve been doing my very best to not worry about anything related to babies, IVF or infertility and focus more on enjoying my time with my family, friends and husband. I would say that on the whole, it’s been going pretty well. I feel happier, less stressed, and more optimistic about things. I haven’t even been impatient about waiting through this break cycle, which is quite the accomplishment for me, as I am the most impatient person I know.

So for now, it’s a good start. And I fully intend to keep it up once we start our next cycle. Life’s too short to sit around waiting for eagerly anticipated happy moments to come to you when you could be off making your own happy moments.

Last week Tuesday I received an e-mail from one of the co-founders (let’s call her Doris, just for ease of discussion) of my real life support group. She mentioned a few things that we may want to discuss at the next day’s meeting. One of the items that she wanted to discuss was this:

“Also also, I’ve noticed that lately there are a lot of pregnant (or recently pregnant) women in the group now — maybe someone would like to talk about how to make sure this doesn’t tip the balance of the group in one direction over the other?”

I should mention that Doris was the first one in our group to get pregnant (she conceived about a month after we started meeting) and had her son about a month and a half ago. Since we’ve started meeting, we’ve had three pregnancies, Doris and two others (who are both currently pregnant), and the remaining five women are not pregnant yet.

Anyway, when I showed up to the meeting, it ended up being only me and three other women, none of which were Doris and none of whom were pregnant. We spent nearly the entire time talking about what we thought Doris was trying to get at in her e-mail regarding the pregnant women in the group.

I remember at my second or third meeting, we were discussing how difficult it can be to be around pregnant women and how it can bring up feelings of jealousy, unfairness, “why me?” etc. Someone made a comment about how they just absolutely hated being around pregnant women and how it was impossible for her to happy for anyone who is pregnant. She had just finished her sentence and then modified her statement to say how she would be so happy for any of the women in the support group to get pregnant because we’ve all been there and struggled with infertility.

I thought that was a great opportunity to ask the group how they felt about what would happen when women did get pregnant. I had no idea if they had already discussed pregnancy and how it would affect the group or not, but I was curious. I also thought that it would be kind of important to make a decision before anyone in the group did get pregnant so that we could have an open and honest discussion about it without hurting anyone’s feelings. I knew from experience with my online buddy group that the dynamics of a group can definitely change when some of the members have what all of the rest want. Hearing pregnancy talk while you’re still trying to conceive is not an easy task for some women to deal with, especially as more and more women get pregnant while a few still struggle. It was enough of a struggle for a few women in my online buddy group that the group itself was no longer a safe haven for support anymore.

It was because of this that I asked “So what will happen when someone DOES get pregnant?” Doris (who already knew she was pregnant, though she hadn’t told us yet) said “once infertile, always infertile! Everyone is welcome to stay as long as they want to whether pregnant or not.” No one disagreed, though no one specifically agreed with her either, and that was that.

I thought it was kind of a hasty decision and one that I thought deserved more discussion and reflection, but no one, myself included, said anything about it. It was the next meeting where Doris revealed that she was nine weeks pregnant.

It is because of her declaration of “once infertile, always infertile” that I was shocked by her e-mail. First of all, I’m confused by “maybe someone would like to talk about how to make sure this doesn’t tip the balance of the group in one direction over the other?” Just what does this mean? Is she suggesting that the pregnant women should not be involved in the meetings anymore? Is she saying that the discussions should be focused only on issues that deal directly with infertility as it relates to conceiving a baby, as opposed to infertility as it relates to pregnancy?

I certainly hope not. We’ve had a lot of discussions regarding pregnancy after infertility within our group since March of this year. Is it something that I can relate to? No, I’ve never been pregnant, so I can’t relate. However, it is definitely a learning opportunity for me. I now know how three different women have felt about their pregnancies after infertility and it’s not necessarily what I would have expected. I know that I may not feel complete exuberance and joy after finding out that I’m pregnant. I may feel depressed, anxious, detached and even jealous of others who are pregnant regardless of the fact that I’m pregnant myself. I also have three local women that I can talk to about the choices that they made regarding testing and prenatal care options. Beyond the benefit to me, I do believe that those who are already pregnant still appreciate and need to attend the group.

On the flip side, I can also see how it could be painful and difficult for some within the group to have to deal with pregnant ladies showing up at an infertility support group meeting. To be subjected to having to hear about ultrasound appointments and nursery ideas when you want nothing more than to be in those shoes is without a doubt a tough thing to handle. And the original purpose of this group was to support women who were dealing with infertility as it relates to trying to conceive. I’m not naïve enough to think that once you get pregnant all of the struggles of infertility just fade into the background. I’m well aware that there are plenty of issues to deal with once pregnancy is achieved, but do supporting those issues take priority over those of the women still trying to conceive?

Looking at it from the pregnant woman’s point of view, (and I can only speak for how I think I would feel about it), I think I would feel very reserved in my willingness to share what was going on with my pregnancy for fear of upsetting, alienating, or causing pain to those who were not yet pregnant. I have come a long, long way in accepting and being happy for others who are pregnant, but I know that for a long period of time, hearing about anyone’s pregnancy was enough to ruin my week, and I would never want to cause that pain to anyone else.

So I can see things from both sides. There are definitely positives and negatives to both scenarios. For me personally, I would much, much rather that we all stay together as a group. I have gotten to know these women so well over the past 10 months and I have a special connection with them that I don’t have with any of my other friends. I wonder what is going on with them on a daily basis and find myself e-mailing them frequently to check in and see what’s going on with them. The thought of losing my biweekly meet up with some of them just because they are pregnant, or not being able to support them at our meetings just doesn’t seem fair.

Neither of the two pregnant women showed up to our meeting last week. I really, really hope that it wasn’t because of this e-mail. I am definitely interested in how the conversation goes regarding this topic next week. I hope it all turns out well.

I walked in the door yesterday after work to this:

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Beautiful flowers from one of my few real life friends who knows about our IVF cycle. For a long time, she was my best friend, but lately we haven’t been as close as we once were. We are in very different places in our lives and we seem to be growing apart lately, for various reasons. Additionally, she happens to be in her second trimester with her second child, which makes things even more delicate for me. The fact that she would send flowers made me feel really good, but also made me feel really crappy as well. Crappy because I’m having a tough time with her very easily achieved pregnancy. Actually, the thought of calling her up to thank her for the flowers makes me really nervous.

Situations like this really make me realize how much our fertility struggles have affected me as a person. I have changed so much in the past year and a half that sometimes I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I used to be very outgoing and bold, now I tend to shy away from situations that I once would have thrived in. I’m constantly doubting myself and feeling like I’m not good enough.

I worry about whether I will ever regain that confidence that I once had. Will I ever regain that happiness that I used to be known for? Will it take a successful pregnancy for me to have those things again? I truly hope that I can find a way to find myself again, regardless of if I get that healthy pregnancy that I so desire.

In the meantime, I guess it’s just a matter of trying to get through things the best that I can.

Have you ever been in a difficult situation and expected a friend to be there for you? And how disappointing is it when that friend not only doesn’t step up to support you, but completely ignores you? It’s hard to deal with when you’ve been supportive to that friend through her tough times, but when the shoe is on the other foot, communication practically ceases. It’s an added stress that is definitely not appreciated when already dealing with the stress and emotions of infertility. How disappointing.

This weekend the inevitable happened…one of our friends asked me if I was pregnant. I knew that people were probably suspicious since I haven’t had a drink in over two months and I usually have a drink or two when we get together socially. Well, this weekend we went to a local brewery and then to a vineyard with another couple. I don’t drink beer because I can’t stand the taste of it, so I don’t think that they were too suspicious that I wasn’t beer tasting with them at the brewery tour, but then we went to lunch and everyone else got a beer for lunch and the bartender asked me if I wanted anything and I told her no.So then my friend Tracy turns to me and says “Jess, are you pregnant?” I quickly replied “no” since I’m not, and she said “I just had to ask since you haven’t been drinking lately.” I told her that I’ve been feeling like I’m losing my mind lately, that I can’t remember anything anymore and I used to have a great memory so it’s kind of freaking me out (which is all true, by the way). I need to keep all of the brain cells that I do have. I’m sure she probably thought that was a pretty lame excuse, but she just shocked me the way she asked it just flat out like that. But that was pretty much it, and I was relieved that we didn’t have to get into a more in depth conversation about it right then.

So after lunch, we drove out to the winery. The guy serving up the wine asked how many would be tasting and I said “three” right away and explained that I would sample from Mark’s glass. After sampling a couple of wines, Kyle turns to me and said something to the effect of “So Tracy was wondering if there was a reason why you weren’t drinking.” Obviously he had not heard our conversation earlier at lunch. I told him that she had already asked me and no I’m not pregnant. Of course he couldn’t leave well enough alone and asked if we were trying. I kind of avoided the direct answer and just explained the same thing to him that I did to Tracy, that I feel like I’ve been losing a lot of my mental acuity lately and it’s bothering me, especially since my grandfather died from Alzheimer’s. They responded to that since a couple people in Tracy’s family have the disease, and mentioned that they both kind of felt the same thing when they hit 30. So that effectively killed of any further pregnancy or trying to get pregnant conversation, which was fine by me.

In hindsight, I kind of wished that I would have just told them. It would have put all speculation to rest, and I know that we could trust them with our secret. I think that I might have told them if the question had come up a little more gradually, instead of out of thin air like it did. We have had conversations with this couple in the past regarding kids, and we’ve just kind of lied and said that we’re just enjoying being married right now and avoided committing to any particular time frames. I think part of their curiosity is maybe driven by the fact that they’re trying to decide if they want to have kids. I get the feeling that they may be more inclined to decide one way or another if they knew that any of their friends were either definitely going to have kids, or definitely not going to have kids.

There are times when I wish that we would have told a various people, but then when I think about actually telling people, I am immediately uncomfortable. I still have not come to terms with the fact that us not being pregnant is my fault. And I know that whose is “at fault” for us not being pregnant is completely irrelevant, but it still bothers me. I can imagine how ashamed I would feel telling people that we’re having difficulties and then of course they would assume that it was a problem on Mark’s side. I would have to jump in and defend him and say that things are great in those regards, the problem is that I’m running short of eggs and I may have a wonky uterus that is preventing implantation. It really is like a dirty little secret to me and my face gets hot and flushed just thinking about telling anyone about it.

There have been times that I’ve thought of telling my parents, because I’m sure that they would be willing to help us out financially if we ever needed it, not to mention the fact that my mom would probably love to do Reiki on me. The thing that keeps me from telling them is the pity that they would feel for us. I can just imagine my mom’s face and knowing how painful it would be for her to know that her daughter is struggling to get the one thing that she wants to the most. My mom has this amazingly pitiful face she gets when she knows that you’re hurting, and it just makes me feel even more miserable than I already do. I know that my news would solicit that face, and thinking about that just makes me not want to tell her. I don’t want to be pitied and I know that she can’t help it; it’s just her natural reaction, but it’s still not what I want.

So for this moment, we will go on as is…not telling anyone who doesn’t already know about our situation. I am sure that things will change for one reason or another eventually, but for now, this will remain our little secret.

 

Originally posted March 27th, 2008

There are very few people who know about our fertility struggle, in fact I have only told two of my friends what’s been going on. The fact that other people now know (5 women plus whomever they told), was not my choice, nor of my control. One of those 5 women knew that we wanted kids right away after we got married and said “Don’t you know they’ve been trying since they got married?” when someone asked me about it at dinner four months after we’d started trying. Since I am a terrible, horrible liar, I could do nothing but admit to it.

One of the women there tried to console me by saying “At least your husband is ready to have kids. Mine isn’t even ready yet.” As luck would have it, she must have gone home and conceived that very night because three months later she announced that they were 17 weeks pregnant. My husband and I were on vacation when she and her husband announced it at our work, so they told my husband when we came back because we had missed the news. My husband, God love him, for some reason thought it would be a great idea to send them over to my very-not-private cube to announce it to me. What was he thinking?!?

Her husband came up behind me an announced “We’re preggers!” What?!? I’m sure my face must have been priceless. Here in my little convoluted dream world I was thinking about how I was going to get pregnant any moment now and then I could pass my copy of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” on to them to aid them in their journey. NOPE. No, as it was explained to me, she had just gone off of her birth control two weeks before our fateful dinner conversation and they weren’t even trying. She didn’t think that her body would be ready to get back to normal that soon off of birth control, so she used the “my husband’s not ready for kids” excuse to cover up for the fact that they were going to start trying soon. Sigh.

I swallowed the painful lump that was quickly rising in my throat and fought back the tears. How embarrassing to me for her to feel like she had to explain her pregnancy to me, and within ear shot of 10 different co-workers, nonetheless. After she and her husband left, I took 5 minutes of sitting at my desk so as not to appear devastated to anyone around me who might know how this would affect me. Then I took off for the bathroom and had a good cry.

I was amazingly embarrassed by the whole situation. Embarrassed by how easy it was for them and how difficult it continued to be for us. Embarrassed that she (and presumably he) knew that we were struggling and frustrated. Embarrassed that now 10 additional people may have figured out that we were trying from the way she explained it all.

I felt shamed.

And really, infertility is nothing to be ashamed of. It really isn’t. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not a reflection of what kind of person you are. It’s not a reflection of the parent you hope to become. It’s not a reflection of your monetary or social status. It just is what it is.

But my fertility struggle does make me feel ashamed of myself. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough; that I don’t deserve what everyone else gets so easily. I can’t make my body do the one thing that it is supposed to just naturally do. And that makes me self-conscious.

Every time the subject of babies and kids comes up it’s as though there is a big, flashing neon arrow above my head pointing right at me saying “She’s infertile! She wants nothing more than to have kids but she can’t make her body cooperate!” When co-workers bring their babies in to work, I watch them from a safe distance and wish that I could have that, all the while hoping that no one notices that pesky arrow flashing above me telling all of the world that I can’t have the one thing I want most.

It’s hurtful, embarrassing, shameful and frustrating. As I walk the halls at work, I wonder who can see that arrow flashing away above my head. I wonder who feels pity for us and what we’re going through. I like to think that those 7 women who know that we’ve been trying for 16 months now have kept my business, that most of them weren’t even supposed to know in the first place, to themselves. I know that there’s a good chance that they may have told others, but I have to tell myself that they haven’t.

And in order to stay sane, I have to constantly remind myself that the arrow doesn’t exist outside my head.

Our History

Dec 2006 - Started trying to conceive
Summer 2007 - Semen analysis (great), progesterone test (normal)
Dec 2007 - SHG normal
Jan 2008 - 1st RE appointment
Feb - Mar 2008 - Diagnosed with elevated FSH levels, 2 rounds of IUI with 5mg of Femara
Apr - Jun 2008 - Seeing a new RE. 3 rounds of IUI with 12.5mg of Femara, all busts. HSG normal
July 2008 - Moving on to IVF at a new clinic
Aug/Sep 2008 - 1st IVF cycle - cancelled due to poor response
Nov/Dec 2008 - Retry IVF, transferred one blast and one morula, negative beta
Feb/Mar 2009 - 2nd IVF cycle - Antagonist protocol
May 2009 - 3rd and final attempt at IVF - Antagonist protocol
Feb 18th, 2010 - our One Small Wish comes true: Nina Adele is born.

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