Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some Relevant Things

Thought I'd just take a minute to share some things.
  • We found out the that our insurance is unexpectedly covering the costs of our meds for this last cycle, including the G-CSF.  Thank you very much, I will take those thousands of dollars back into my pocket (for like 2 seconds until I just give them to someone else).  Meds arrived today.  Injections don't start for a couple of weeks.  
  • Last week we went to this event.  Previous to that, I had spoken on the phone to the woman who works with expectant and birth mothers with that agency (who graduated from college with a friend of mine) and I met her that evening.  We had the opportunity to really talk to some birth mothers, as well as to more adoptive parents.  I got to meet Lori Lavender Luz, and I can not wait to read her book.  Her talk was incredible inspiring.
  • Then on Saturday we went to the orientation for that agency.  We got the homestudy paperwork, and are planning to get started on it, but we are attending one more orientation at a different agency in a couple of weeks, and want to be sure first.  We feel really good about these guys though.
  • We have met with more adoptive parents, and plan to meet with even more - people keep coming out of the woodwork and they are all amazing, warm, open and helpful.  
  • I know I have another FET and I even know that there's a chance it will work, but I also know that I will be OK if it doesn't, because I keep sitting in these rooms with my heart beating out of my chest with excitement over this potential way of becoming a family.
  • I'm reading a lot.  I'll share a reading list when I've gotten through more of these books/blogs/etc.
  • I've got my calendar for the FET.  It looks like this: 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Different Kind of Trigger

I have had the hardest time figuring out how to write about PTSD and trauma as it relates to Infertility and my experience.  There is this article I read, that really stuck with me.  Please, do read it before you read on in this post.  It's short and simple and it's the start of all of this.  That was almost enough.  Acknowledging it as and calling it trauma has done a lot for me in terms of beginning to heal, and move forward.  It has helped me make healthier decisions about what I am willing to go through or not go through.

Almost enough, I said, but not quite enough.  Because there is the fact that I can no longer read my favorite gossip magazines, making for sad airplane journeys without them, because the covers all look like this and make me feel like crap:

There was the point where I decided I needed to stop avoiding things that were triggers, and to let myself feel a little more in hopes that feel would = heal.  There was some crying that I actually let happen, while reading books, watching television commercials, listening to songs, reading notes from friends.  None of this, though, seemed like enough to explain what it feels like to roam through the day afraid that something unexpected would result in a flurry of bad emotion.

Then on Friday I went to see Dr. Norrell, my beloved Ob/Gyn.  I have been looking forward to this appointment for months (which is how long it takes to see her instead of someone else in her office) and the last time I saw her was when she referred me to UCSF for fertility stuff, so I was long overdue for my annual appointment.  She has been my doctor the whole time I have lived in SF and she is a fucking good one.  I have talked with her about so many issues in my life, and I just needed to talk to her about where I am right now. I couldn't wait, in fact.

What I didn't think about ahead of time was how being in her office might make me feel.  To be honest, "feel" isn't even the right word, because what happened was so different than how I feel when I see those magazine covers I posted above.  I walked in full of excitement, and what happened when I was sitting in the waiting room of that office was a physical reaction that I could not control.  It is the only time I have broken down in public during this whole ordeal, and it was not stoppable.  My body started shaking.  My heart started pounding.  I started crying.  I couldn't look up, had to use my hair to block my face.  I was just focusing on breathing as best I could until I got called out of the waiting room and into the exam room (where I was able to use all my cognitive behavioral techniques to calm my body down).  I felt so out of control, and it was scary.

That, my friends, is PTSD and Infertility.  It isn't something I can prepare for, or think away, because it exists somewhere very different from my thinking brain.  I couldn't even tell you what "trigger" I was reacting to.  The pregnant women everywhere looking happy with their friends and partners?  The way the staff was familiar with them?  The baby photos on the wall?  The breastfeeding positive signs?  The flyers listing classes for new moms?  Or just the fact that this is a place I always pictured next walking into excited and pregnant?

PTSD isn't the same thing as feeling sad.  It is a physical reaction that comes on when triggered by things that bring up past trauma and that can not always be expected.  Do I have this?  I don't know.  Sure feels something like that, though.  Dr. Norrell, on the plus side, was as amazing as I'd hoped, and part of this was her comfort and support when I brought up this idea.  She didn't blow it off as unreasonable.  Quite the opposite, in fact, she agreed completely that this process can equate to trauma and she accepted and acknowledged what I have been through.  She also offered me a variety of actually useful help, including information about her own experience as an adult adoptee, which I had no idea she was.  I asked her if she was willing to serve as my official doctor for any home study paperwork, and in fact, the reality is that she offered before I could really quite get the question fully out.

This all also makes me realize what an amazing job the UCSF Women's Center does of being a trigger-free environment.  I've always appreciated their clear policy about not bringing children into that space, but I'd never thought beyond that to what else is missing that is present in most doctor's offices.  I guess they are smart enough to know how to avoid a room full of panicked crying women, barely able to breath.

So, where to go with this from here?  I don't really know.  I have already decided that I'm near the end of the physical treatments.  I think that when I get through this last transfer, I will be able to really work on healing emotionally, and if I need help, I will get it.   I don't think this will go away right away, though.  I don't think that this last cycle working, even, would heal these wounds.  I don't think becoming a mother will heal these wounds.  I think I am just, now, wounded and I have to find a way for that to be OK with me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

As Soon As I Adopt, I WILL NOT Get Pregnant

This is none of the posts I said I was working on.  Instead of those, I decided to do this PSA!  You see, I have already heard this uncountable times, so now I am going to publicly ask that you please don't say:

As soon as you adopt, you'll get pregnant.  (Or any variation thereof.)

This is bothersome, hurtful and actually offensive in so many ways, but I totally get why people might not think of these things, which is why I'm just going to lay it out here and share them and hope I never ever ever hear it again (unlikely).  Also, I hope no other prospective adoptive parents ever hears it again (also unlikely).  Do your part.  Spread the word.  Use your librarianly shushing technique if you hear people about to say it, or if someone says it about me to you.  Please.

If you've already said this to me, or someone else, don't stress out.  I do know you didn't mean it the way I felt it.  It didn't make me angry at you.  In fact I know you likely said it out of care and a desire to provide comfort. It doesn't though - it just hurts, and I want people to understand cause I have enough hurt, ya know?

Why this statement, in all its possible iterations, sucks (in no particular order):
  • It isn't true.  Statistically, about 5% of people who go through fertility treatments without success will get pregnant eventually on their own.  This number does not go up for those who decide to adopt.  It is the same regardless.  So, sure, it happens.  Rarely.  It is, though, just as likely to happen if we stop treatments and don't decide to adopt.
  • It feeds into the "if you just relax" myth, which is horrible.  If you just relax, your fucking cancer will go away, said NO ONE EVER because it makes no sense and is rude as shit.  If you just stop treating your cancer it will get all better, also said NO ONE EVER because it makes no sense and is rude as shit.  It's not my fault that I am unable to get pregnant because I can't "relax".  Something is broken.  My best chances at getting pregnant are through treatments, not through giving up treatments.
  • It implies that adoption is second best.  Once I am working on adopting a child, this will be the way I will be planning to build my family.   I will be excited and on a different journey than the one where I am trying to get pregnant.  Please, be excited with me.  Please don't make me think that you will consider my family to be not as good because of the way it was created.  An adopted baby will be my child.  It will be Ian's child.   We will love it, as much as if it had come from my vagina.  
  • I want my body back.  Getting my body back includes getting back on medication I miss, including birth control, that helps me with multiple non-fertility related health problems.  I don't want to get pregnant while on birth control pills, migraine meds, and anti-depressants, but thanks.  
  • It minimizes all the pain, all the cost, all the trauma, all the emotion that has gone into this process and our decision making thus far.   Guess what - I know you *wish* it were that easy for me to get pregnant.  It's not. 
I understand the desire to provide comfort and the frustration that comes from the lack of knowing how to provide comfort.   It's OK to not say anything, or to not know what to say.  It's OK to say you don't know what to say.  It's also OK if you have said this, or if you do say this.  I will forgive you in an instant, I will.

Try not to, though, OK?