Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is Diet Pepsi Keeping Me Barren?

I have a love/hate relationship with Diet Pepsi. By that I mean I love it, and I hate it when anyone suggests we should part ways. Despite that, about once a year I try to stop. The reasons are usually the same: Aspartame causes cancer and all kids of health problems, giving it up will help me lose weight, or it's a bad habit for my daughter to emulate.

I usually last about 24 hours before I go crawling back.

I tell myself that lots of things cause cancer, that I only drink two day and there are lots of other things I can do to lose weight, and that it's not like I'm smoking it in front of Meg.

This time though? I've been off it four days and counting. The reason? Aspartame totally messes with your pH balance.

As anyone familiar with the MB program knows, getting the pH balance right in your body is the holy grail. Practically everything that is done with diet and supplements is about making the body not too acidic -- yet I have been sabotaging that every day just because I can't leave my fizzy lover behind.

The body's basic pH is 7.0-7.3. That's when it is firing on all cylinders. Aspartame's pH? 1.5. I have been pouring acid into my body while trying to make it perform a function (reproduction) that needs balance. According to the Aspartame experts in order to rebalance the body after the acid in one 12 ounce can of diet soda, a person has to drink 256 ounces of water. I would drink two Diet Pepsis in a day -- on an average. And I know I was not drinking 512 ounces of water. I know that because I don't have a hump and camel breath.

So, I'm off it. I actually haven't even been tempted by it this time. I think because if this is the thing that is keeping me from getting pregnant, I'm really pissed at myself. I mean, we were spending thousands of dollars every month on fertility treatments, and I may have been voiding them because there was a Pepsi machine in the lobby. Yeah, I know that probably wasn't the only reason, and that one little thing like that doesn't make all the difference.

But what if it does? That's all I can keeping thinking about.

Of course, now I think about things like that with a cup of tea in my hand.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life is Cake

“To our knowledge, flourless chocolate cake is the only dessert that is named for a missing ingredient.” ~The New Best Recipe cookbook, page 862

Being childless sometimes feels like being a flourless chocolate cake. You’re defined by what is missing in your life and your identity can be pigeonholed into one category ~ infertile. Never mind all the rest. Never mind all the tiny ways you try to make this world a better place. You’re not a mom, so it doesn’t matter.

This is as ridiculous and as untrue as telling a flourless chocolate cake it’s not decadent because it lacks dry ingredients.

Yes, John and I would like children, but my mind tells me: Be happy now. Do not wait. Nothing is going to get any more perfect than it already is.

It’s true certain circumstances are easier to live with than others. But a lot of circumstances are easier to live with than we let them be.

This applies to the fertility struggle as much as it does to any struggle. And I don’t want to be defined by my struggles. I want to be defined by my joys. I want my mind to be so jam-packed and overflowing with everything good and right in my life that all the negatives are pushed to the back corner, where they can be properly ignored.

I wonder if flourless chocolate cake ever longs for more than its rich ingredients of chocolate, butter and eggs. I’m thinking not.

Of course, we are not cake.

And sometimes not having a baby (or fill in the blank with whatever is lacking in your life) is harder than I would like to admit, and it’s hard to know what to do when you feel disappointed or left behind. A few years ago I noticed most of my friends were having their second child. Now almost everyone is welcoming their third or fourth.

Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to catch up, like I’m so far behind I’m not even in the race.

This feeling is not limited to children. There are several areas in my life I find just as frustrating as infertility, and all of them have the tendency to make me feel inadequate and stupid.

You might be wondering how something so obviously out of my control as infertility could make me feel stupid. This is where I will show you the ugliness of self-blame:

We should have started trying sooner, before I turned 30. We should have had our lives more together so we could have started trying sooner without fearing we would end up on welfare. We shouldn’t have worried so much about being ‘ready’ to have children. (By the way, we never became ‘ready’ we just stopped worrying about it.) 

This train usually crashes somewhere around: I should have done my high school summer reading because slacking in English is clearly when my life took a turn for the worse.

The fact John and I are childless really isn’t a turn for the worse. It’s just not what we imagined. I bet flourless chocolate cake is not what a lot of people imagine. When done well, it’s surprisingly and undeniably delicious.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fertiles v. Infertiles

That's what if feels like sometimes, I admit: The fertiles against the infertiles, or, more likely the other way around. The fertiles are usually blissfully unaware that anyone in the universe might be having difficulty conceiving, therefore they are just as unaware that infertiles as a rule generally detest 1) pregnancy Facebook updates 2) smug pregnant women 3) baby showers 4) pity 5) themselves.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit since a friend innocently asked me recently how a person ought to respond when a woman tells them she is infertile or having trouble conceiving. Because I'd written here recently that some women at BlogHer had said to me: "I'm so sorry," when I told them I write for an infertility blog. This response completely rubbed me the wrong way, and when I thought about it later I realized their responses were not inappropriate; I'd simply developed a knee-jerk emotional reaction to pity, particularly pity from fertiles.

This realization led me to mull other classic infertility minefields -- the ones listed above -- and I've been breaking them down in my mind ever since.

Let's begin with Facebook. I follow hundreds of infertile women on Twitter, and in my assessment their number one gripe about fertiles is the Facebook updates. I understand, completely. There've been plenty of surprise updates from my "friends" on Facebook that read something like: "Sally and I are happy to announce that we're expecting a little bundle of joy in October!" Or simply an ultrasound photo. For someone who's been trying and failing to conceive for a while, these updates feel like a slap in the face. And so infertiles as a whole have come to resent them.

The deal with Facebook is that it's become a place where people overshare. You wouldn't normally tell some former coworkers and a douche you went to college with a million years ago all about your vacation to the Grand Tetons, but on Facebook it's become a no-holds-barred arena of this shit. Facebook has become, in short, extraordinarily annoying, and it's not because of the fertiles. My personal number one Facebook pet peeve is the way we all suddenly wish happy birthday to people we wouldn't normally wish happy birthday to. If it's your birthday? And I want to wish you a happy birthday? I will call or text you. Facebook is the last place I'm going to try to express anything meaningful to you. BUT THAT'S JUST ME. And that's not a completely rational thing to be irritated about. Just as it's not completely rational for infertiles to get upset about pregnancy updates. We need to accept that Facebook is a place of oversharing and then make a decision about what we're going to do about that. As I see it, here are the choices:

1) Delete Facebook. 

2) See the pregnancy update, then hide all future updates from that person.

3) See all updates, seethe, eat ice cream, and move on.

I'm going to skip over the smug pregnant women point because two women made a very catchy song about that and you can just watch it on youtube for all the information you'll ever need. And I'm going to go straight to BABY SHOWERS.

Now. Here is what I demand you do if you are infertile or struggling to conceive and the idea of attending a baby shower bothers you in the slightest: DO NOT GO TO THE BABY SHOWER. For God's sake, woman!! Unless the shower is for your sister or some other close relative or a very good friend, do not go. If you do go, ensure there will be alcohol there. If there's not going to be alcohol, BRING YOUR OWN. This is very important.

Because as many of us know, baby showers are already kind of freaky, right? They have always freaked me the hell out, even before I started trying to have a kid. And when you finally decide you want to have a kid? And then you figure out you're not as fertile as you thought you were? And you attend a baby shower? It's like someone is scraping your soul out with a dull spoon. You must smile and declare all things cute and play games and you will stare at a wall and wonder if you start banging your head violently against it if anyone will notice/care. They will notice. You mustn't attend baby showers. The end.

Now to pity. What is an appropriate reaction to infertility? I am sorry -- I don't know. My preferred reaction is a facial expression that reads: I am frustrated for you and I kind of feel sorry for you. If someone said: Dude, that blows, I probably wouldn't mind that. You're just kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't in this situation. UNLESS! Unless that person has suffered a miscarriage. In which case "I'm so sorry" is more than appropriate. That person deserves all the pity afforded to a mother who's lost a child.

Last but not least, infertile women have a tendency to hate themselves. I see it every day on Twitter -- women who hate their bodies because they just won't cooperate and do what every normal body is supposed to do. They ache for babies and their damned bodies have shut the figurative door on the prospect. I wish it weren't this way. I wish I had a way a person could be happy with themselves even in the midst of trials like these. But I don't. I've been there, every month for many months. It's become rote, the knowledge that it didn't work, again, that I will try again, but without any faith of anything taking hold.

And how about the infertiles who suddenly -- miraculously! -- become pregnant? I admit I've lost interest in many of them. It's part jealousy, part sickness at reading about joy and pregnancy. Earlier today I read a post by a woman who tried for a long time to get pregnant and then, she did! It was unbelievable. All her readers were happy for her. And then she wrote a post about how sick she's felt, and how she's vomited in every public restroom on her way to work. And a reader responded:

"Boo hoo ... you pee and throw up. At least your pregnant you mindless twat. Some of us would kill to feel that way and your complaining. I guess you forgot what it's like, just like every other so called infertile who gets a BFP. Whatever." 

(By the way it killed me not to correct that commenter's spelling.) 

This is a standard reaction to an infertile complaining about pregnancy symptoms. Because GOD FORBID the woman not ENJOY every single fucking minute of morning sickness. The commenter says she would kill to feel that way. You wouldn't kill to feel that way, madam, you'd kill for the baby. If you suddenly got pregnant and were vomiting every day, no way would you smile as the bile shoots out of your mouth and you crouch pathetically on the bathroom floor. Give me a break.

Let's not villainize people who have "put in their time," as I'm fond of saying. People who have put in their time have tried a good long while to get pregnant; have had miscarriages; have gone through IVF; have cried over their inability to just get pregnant. Hating ourselves and each other, plus the fertiles is a recipe for disaster and an acidic uterus (I'm sure it's true!).

All these things will continue to bother me, I'm sure, but only as I consciously realize whether or not my reaction is rational or irrational. My preferred method of dealing with these things from here on out: Seethe, eat ice cream, and move on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Damn Cat

My basal body temperature taking is not going well, and it is all because of my cat.

You see, in order to get an accurate temperature you have to have three hours of uninterrupted sleep. That means no getting up to pee, no turning off your alarm clock, and definitely no climbing under your bed to reach out your meowing cat and throw his ass outside.

It isn't until I am slamming the door behind him, wondering how I can break into a sweat so quickly, and with so little effort, that I realize I should have taken my temperature before undertaking the endeavor.

I've tried locking him outside for the night, hoping that would do the trick, but he still finds ways to wake me up, usually starting a fight with another cat. Jumping out of bed and running into the backyard to throw a panful of water on two snarling felines definitely counts against "moving" in the basal body temp game.

I am thinking I am going to start setting an alarm. I am usually in bed by ten, so if I set it for two I should get the three hours. Then I could definitely get an accurate reading. Of course, there is the fact that I will be setting an alarm for 2am, in a bedroom I share with my husband. So, he might have something to say about it. And there is the fact that at 2am I am more likely to throw the thermometer out the window than stick it in my mouth.

This is why I like the pee sticks so much more... Totally cat proof.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Old Wives' (And Husbands') Tales

So I have this friend, Michelle, whom I've known since our days on the college newspaper. She could always be relied upon to have pain killers or pepper spray handy -- whatever you needed, really.

She's something of a savant in that when she applies herself in any given area, she becomes an expert on that area. Currently she is overflowing with knowledge about children and the things you need to buy to keep them alive and happy. I hope to someday tap her fountain of knowledge when I birth my own spawn.

I only mention her tendency to "expertize" herself on different topics because I suspect she comes by it honestly. 

Case in point: A few weeks ago Michelle sent me an email with the subject line: "Something just occurred to me."

As it turns out, Michelle's dad is something of a barren-uterus-whisperer. To date, he has helped eight women conceive within three months of beginning to use his ovulation charts and advice. One couple had been trying for TEN YEARS and conceived within two months of following his advice. (What the what?!) They now have three children.

So I figured I would put Michelle's dad's advice out there for everyone to use. Here it is!

1. The man should abstain from sex for one week prior to your ovulation week. No masturbating, either. (The seed is strong! Sorry. Game of Thrones joke.)

2. Then have sex the day BEFORE you ovulate, the DAY you ovulate, and then the day AFTER you ovulate. Michelle says the reasoning behind this is that girl sperms stay alive in your body longer, the boy sperms are sprinters and made for day-of-ovulation action, and doing it the day after ovulation is covering your bases, since it's possible you ovulated a little later than expected.

3. Have sex at night, and go to sleep directly afterward. Don't get up, don't go to the bathroom. Michelle says she slept with a towel under her. For the record, Michelle has two kids.

Michelle's dad clarifies that three sexual encounters are the minimum. If you want to keep going after the third day, by all means have at it. But the first day you do it should be the day before ovulation.

I figure we've all tried any number of crazy things on this voyage, and this one doesn't sound that crazy. It's worth a shot, right? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Pills

I'm trying the supplements again.

Not all of them, and not all at once. Been there, done there, still have the hospital bracelet to prove it. Oh, and the herbs are totally out. I tried taking them twice and both times my stomach threatened to leave my body, take my pancreas with it, and not leave a forwarding address.

So far I have started taking the prenatal vitamins and fish oil again, but not at the same time, with no real problems as long as I take them with food. If I don't? I get queasy and burp sushi all day. Not fun. Still, even that is a lot better than my previous experience.

I have also started taking a supplement that wasn't even on my radar before, but was recommended by my acupuncturist: CoQ10. It's an antioxidant that is supposed to be good for blood flow, especially in the pelvic region. It's in the book, but I didn't remember it. Out of all the things I underlined and starred and put on lists in the book, CoQ10 was completely overlooked. My acupuncturist says it could have a "clearing effect" like the herbs were supposed to, but is gentler and doesn't have me retching. That's always a good thing.

In addition to the hormones I was taking before, and the metformin, I am now on five pills a day to try and get me pregnant. That's down from the 13 I was taking before, not including the herbs, or the teas. It still seems like a lot to most, and still requires me to carry a pill tracker (yay, old lady supplies!) but it feels much better to me. My stomach feels a lot better to me.

I guess we'll just see how it goes from here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

BlogHer and Babies

If you haven’t read Erin’s post about BlogHer, you should start there. I didn’t have any expectations for the weekend, but I was definitely surprised by the number of moms, babies and pregnant ladies everywhere I looked.

It’s not like I attended any sessions specific to motherhood, but fertility is kind of everywhere. Early on I realized I needed to clarify by saying I contribute to a blog about infertility instead of fertility because that was only confusing people and making them think I knew the secret to getting knocked up.

Even the very generous sponsors were definitely targeting the mom crowd. Erin and I avoided sections of the Expo Hall for this reason. (Although we each snagged a sample of Zarbee’s all-natural nighttime cough and sleep drink for kids, just in case we needed to knock ourselves out. But sheer fatigue did the trick.)

It didn’t help that we both failed a pregnancy test the morning we left and that we were extra sensitive due to PMS. We should come with a warning: “Of Child-Bearing Age But Not Ability.” By Thursday night, I felt a little beat up. I called John just to say, “Today was hard.”

Luckily, it got easier. Unlike in real life, it was super normal to tell complete strangers I co-write a blog about trying to get pregnant. That’s the freedom of being with 3,600 bloggers. Everyone is writing about their passion --- life, love, kids, food, faith, fashion. I met a woman who writes about worms. In our case, it’s the fertility journey. And the more I talked about Tired & Stuck, the more comfortable I felt talking about Tired & Stuck.

By the time Erin pointed out Giuliana Rancic to me, I was even ready to tell her about our blog. I’m not familiar with her show, but I heard her on a radio interview awhile back and I’ve heard about her from several friends. I told her Erin wanted to meet her but was afraid she would cry. I thanked her for bringing light to the struggle of infertility, and we talked for a couple minutes about how it’s sometimes hard for people to relate. Then I took a really awkward photo with her. As I walked away, one of the women from the Tropicana booth asked for my card. She didn’t tell me her story, but she seemed happy to know she wasn’t alone.

Later that day, as I continued to discuss infertility with strangers, one woman told me how she and her husband adopted after she was diagnosed with low progesterone and clomid failed. Another woman told me how she miscarried her first child and then fired her doctor for being as sensitive as jagged stone. 

The whole experience reminded me how important it is to tell our stories honestly and to listen to others when they tell theirs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An infertile goes to BlogHer

Let me just start out by saying that BlogHer was wonderful and inspiring. I learned many new things and met lots of really wonderful people.

I had to get that out of the way so I could tell you what wasn't so super-awesome about BlogHer. It wasn't BlogHer's fault -- it wasn't anyone's fault -- but the problem was all the mommies. There were mommies with little tiny babies, pregnant ladies, and if you met a new blogger chances were pretty good that person was going to be a mommy blogger.

The conversation would go something like this.

The Mommy: Hi, I'm Betty. I write a blog at tylerandcaydensmommy dot com. What do you write about?

Me: Oh, I have a lifestyle blog at zeromusings dot com and ... I contribute to an infertility blog at tiredandstuck dot blogspot dot com.

The Mommy: Oh. (look of severe confusion)

Sometimes mommies would just outright ask if I had children and I would be forced to say No and then if I was feeling up to it I'd say, Actually I contribute to a blog about infertility.

Mommies have no idea how to respond to this. Some say, Oh, I'm sorry! One poor woman said, Sometimes I wish I were infertile! To which I answered, Don't say that, and then she said OhmygodI'msosorryIdidn'tmeanthat. She felt terrible. I felt terrible. We all felt terrible and then I had some wine.

Also not helpful: Premenstrual syndrome, which both Christina and I were suffering terribly from. We cried for about half the conference. Thankfully we were rooming together so we kept the crazy shut up at night in our hotel room.

One morning following Sparklecorn (a raucous party with loud music, glow sticks, and unicorn cake), I found that I was missing my conference badge.

Christina claims that when we arrived back at our hotel room after the party, I flung off a number of items -- glow necklaces, shoes -- and cried, "To the wind!" I have no remembrance of this. I hadn't had much to drink, but I also hadn't had much to eat, so maybe it all went to my head.

ANYWAY. The badge was nowhere to be found. I marched to the area of the convention center where a booth had been set up specifically for morons like me who lose their badges, and as I was waiting for it to be printed up, I realized that none other than Giuliana Rancic was doing a meet and greet in the Tropicana booth behind me. 

I shout-squealed: "That's Giuliana Rancic!" The girl behind the counter looked disinterested and said something like, "Huh, sure is."

I knew I wanted to meet her and tell her how grateful I am that she's willing to share her infertility story with the world, how much it makes me feel like I'm not alone and not insane. And just thinking about this I began to tear up, and I knew I'd never be able to meet her without dissolving into a blubbering mess.  

So I didn't. Christina did, though. She told her about our blog and told her I wanted to meet her but I was too much of a wreck. They took a photo together but Christina hated the photo so it shall probably never see the light of day.  

I, however, took a couple of photos of Giuliana before running away in fright.

 Giuliana is even more thin in person than she is on the television. She's also prettier in person.

  This is a photo of her with someone I don't know. I wish I'd gotten a full body photo -- she was wearing an amazing pair of navy blue chunky heels. 
I'm not sure if you've been keeping up with Giuliana & Bill, but as I mentioned in a previous post, Giuliana had discovered the very book we here on this blog are following -- Making Babies. She even met with one of the authors, Dr. David, who I would give an eye tooth to have a consult with. And now, per Dr. David's recommendation, she's started acupuncture. In the episode that aired most recently she said that during her session she felt blood rushing toward her pelvic region, which is good because increased blood flow to the uterus, etc., is nothing but good as far as aiding in conception is concerned.

In conclusion -- am I disappointed I didn't talk with Giuliana myself? Yes. But I know I would have just started bawling and probably frightened her. So in the end I'm glad I didn't.

And am I glad I went to BlogHer this year? Absolutely. But I hope to God that if I go to another one I'm either pregnant or have a kid.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gone BlogHer

I'm not as talent as others who manage to pack for BlogHer and write actual blog posts.

So, if you are in San Diego with the some 3,000 blogging fools said to be congregating there, come find Erin and me.

We will be talking and tweeting and being are usual almost cool but terribly dorky selves. (OK. That last part is just about me.)

Anyway, we plan to have fun, and we would love to meet you in person.

I’ll be Child Free at BlogHer '11!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thankfully silent thoughts. That I blogged about.

I had a funny thought the other day.

I was at the grocery store, and a bunch of little kids -- maybe 8 years old -- were running amok, getting in my way and generally causing a disturbance.

And I thought to myself: If at some point I am told I just cannot have kids, at least then I can openly resent children in public. I mean, it seems like everywhere I go, people's kids are always misbehaving, screaming, crying, and basically completely out of control. I know plenty of people personally who somehow manage to keep their children in line, but the kids I encounter in public on a daily basis? Are OUT. Of FREAKING. CONTROL. 

And normally I think to myself, Oh, kids. They're just being kids. Because someday I might have a kid and that kid might misbehave and then some surly woman in the grocery store might give me the stink-eye.

But if I didn't have to "worry" about that possibility, I could basically think to myself: What a bunch of little asshole children. What is wrong with their parents? Why, when I was a child I would have been given what-for and never would have dreamed of doing such things.

I tend to remember myself as a model child, so I can't really speak to whether this is technically true, but I can say that my parents didn't tolerate any bull shit.

In any case, regardless of what happens on this fun little infertility journey I'm on, I doubt that I will ever be as hateful toward children as I was feeling that day. It's just that occasionally I see complete goddamn morons with children and it makes me insanely angry. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I were a teenager, or a drug addict, or homeless, or had at some point received a lobotomy, I would likely have a whole brood of drooling little snot factories right now.

I'll stop whining now. 

The update with me is that there is no update. Today is Day 23 in my cycle. Tomorrow I will take a pregnancy test to make sure I am not pregnant, so that I can get on an airplane and go drink some margaritas in San Diego.

I'm headed to BlogHer to meet a few thousand other bloggers, mostly female as I understand it, and I'm really excited to be going. I hope to learn a lot and make some new friends.

Let me know if you're going so we can meet! If you're not going and you'd like to keep up with my San Diego shenanigans, follow me on Twitter!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's The Temperature, Kenneth?

I am going to admit something shocking.

I have never tracked my basal body temperature.

I know. I know. I should be kicked out of the infertility club immediately.

It isn't that I haven't tried. I have bought numerous thermometers, and dutifully placed them by the side of the bed. Then I have awoken the next morning and walked right past them, only to remember with a "damn" once I was already in the shower.

Also, the whole thing just seems so ripe for misreadings. The fact that you are supposed to have slept just enough, but not too much; or else you have to do algebra to figure out what your actual temperature is has always been off putting. Does moving my leg out from under the covers mean I'm going to get the wrong reading? What about reaching out to grab the thermometer?

Truth be told, I don't see what my temperature will tell me that hasn't already been told to me by years of being poked, prodded, scoped, wanded, bled, and battered. It could tell me when my husband and I should being "doing it" (technical term), but the OPKs already tell us that, and, really, we keep our bases pretty well covered, if you know what I mean.

I am trying it again though, at the behest of my acupuncturist. She seems to think there is something in there that will help her know where to put the needles. I just hope she doesn't mind when the temperature is "damn" for a couple of the days.

If only they made a basal body thermometer that only worked in the shower....