Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The indignity of Infertility

I grew up in India and moved here as a teenager. I was lucky because even though I was born a girl in India, I was spared some of the deeper indignities of being just that, a girl in India. My family never seemed progressive to me but it amazed me as I grew up just how progressive they were in things that mattered. 

Imagine getting your period, its a rite of passage, isnt it? from being a girl to a woman. Well in India it is Step 1 of shame, since most religious ceremonies, places, etc do not allow women to enter or participate during their period. You have to declare, often to family members, friends, and teachers that you have your period and you cannot participate in something. You have to sit out, as you stand out with your lack of participating. 

Imagine not being able to go near the christmas tree on christmas morning because you have your period? Yeah something like that.. 

It wasnt till a few years after starting my period that I learned, that my friends endured a deeper hell of their own in a ritual that my family had abolished. They were in essence untouchable during their period, had their own seperate utensils and bedsheet they used to sleep on the hard tiled ground, couldnt use their own bed even. They couldnt touch anything in the house and no one could touch them. It was horrifying. My grandparents explained to me that it was a ritual, designed to help give women a break during a painful period that had been turned into something so corrupted and abhorring. 

It was years later that I realized, I was very lucky to be born at all, since such a large percentage of girl children even today are aborted in female infanticide in India. 

Becoming pregnant, giving birth are all such miraculous experiences that infertility corrupts for us. There is deep indignity in Infertility as you go week after week, for invasive procedures, for trans vaginal ultrasounds, hysteroscopies, hysterosonograms, hysterosalpingrams, inspections, pap smears. I lose count but you get the idea.

Once I read an article in Huffington Post where a woman talked about the horrifying experience that was a trans vaginal ultrasound. She was newly pregnant and likened it to being violated. 

Is it violating? maybe.

There is some deep resignation as you walk in week after week, undress from the waist down and get ready for the ultrasound. Some days I have an audience at my RE's office as they seem to be trying to find a new ultrasound tech and training them. 2 or 3 people were present when they thought I had an ectopic pregnancy because 2 eyes are better than one. Do I mind they ask, I shrug and say do what you have to.

 From the physician assistant that did my pap smear to the nurse that did my iui, the medical assistant that assisted during my d&c. They have all had a first rate view of my private parts. 

Some days I get frustrated at having to "spread my legs" again and again. DH was shocked once when I phrased it like that, but that in a nutshell is infertility. You do it again and again because you dont have a choice, & I dont mean what you might think. No I m still talking about getting ultrasounds and other invasive procedures, spreading your legs for them. 

I took for granted the indignity of being on a school trip and having to sit out because you cannot attend that ancient historical site that just happens to be religious in nature. I accepted the indignity of infertility with the procedures day in and out. Where do you draw the line though? Where is the fine line between sharing and not being ashamed of your infertility and your right as a woman to discuss bodily functions to privacy? My decision, that fine line lies in my decision and my choice. It has to be my choice to share, my choice to broadcast my treatments or lack of, my choice to discuss my infertility, MINE. 

Yesterday in a misguided attempt at worrying about me, DH shared details of my upcoming hysteroscopy with both sets of parents. I was appalled, it wasnt his to share. I suffer enough indignity with infertility without my private parts becoming dinner conversation. PRIVATE, not for public discussion.

Isnt it hard enough already without losing my choice in the process too?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Can I let go?

It is the first day of Paryushan for Jains. (My religion is Jainism, a little known religion originating in India, I am married to a Hindu, so I tend to straddle both worlds).

This 8 day long festival is unlike most religious festivals I know of, for it involves introspection, meditation, self control, penance and forgiveness.

I know, I know, for someone who claims to be an atheist or not religious, I talk an awful lot about religion. I also think even more about religion and where I stand with it. I stand usually forever confused.

I have often stripped away the rituals that have invaded the religion over the centuries and tried to reach the basic tenets, non violence, peaceful co-existence not just with people but the environment, spirituality and the essence of doing no wrong. I try to live by those principles and be a good human being first and foremost but yet I know I fall short. 

Anyway, these 8 days, I dont follow the dietary guidelines or the fasting rituals anymore. I may not goto the temple but I do force myself to reflect. 

I do force myself to reflect on the year that has just passed, to question whether I was a good human being, whether I have done everything I could to help people and tried to not intentionally hurt anyone.

The most important thing, I try to forgive. I try to forgive those grudges I have long held, to let go of the anger that is often building up inside me. When I utter those words out "Michami Dukkadam" I expect to honestly beg forgiveness from the world for intentionally or unintentinally causing harm and when I utter them in front of the mirror, to forgive myself.

For the last few years, just like this one, I know that I will not be forgiving myself. I am not ready. I am not ready to forgive myself and my body for the pain that it has caused me and those around me. I havent forgiven myself for failing at pregnancy, for its not motherhood I failed at. I never had a chance.

I will try, like the rest of the year, I will try harder during this 8 days to try and let go of some of that anger that is always simmering just under the edge, the anger that uses progesterone as an excuse to erupt.

Today as I began reflecting on my year, I realized I have one more person I am going to struggle to forgive, my brother. He has rail roaded and bull dozed over everyone's emotions in my family. He has hurt everyone and I am more angry over the pain my family felt than the pain I may have felt. I know I will not come close to forgiving him in these 8 days but I have to start, for me, not for him. 

He doesnt seek my forgiveness but I have to give it to him because its not fair to me to hold this anger or pain within me.

So I am going to spend the next 8 days thinking about my past year, my ttc journey and trying to let go of something I have clasped so tightly my proverbial knuckles have turned white. I may fail but I have to try.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The other wait....

Sometimes an anomaly becomes a habit and no longer feels out of place. In fact when things go back to normal, that change takes some getting used to.

I dont know how long I lived with my fibroids, but I have lived with irregular periods for 10+ years since college and stress and the advent of all nighters, caffeine and junk food to my diet. 

The fibroids were first discovered with my first pregnancy and removed in July 13 with a laprascopic myomectomy. 

It wasnt until these fibroids were removed and AF resumed gradually that I realized just how much they had been impacting my life.

The horrible lower back pains starting a week before AF, the sore boobs, the cramps all went away. It used to be that I used to take tylenol for strong pain long before my period started. Suddenly I found myself free, of all the pain and symptoms that I had accepted as a part of my life. 

My periods have been very short for the last ten years, and got shorter now lasting maybe 3 days.

Why am I thinking about this? As I wait for AF after stopping progesterone, its weird to be an adult afraid of being caught completely off guard. I have no symptoms preceding AF anymore, it doesnt co-operate and appear on a Sunday like clockwork for years (even if it was 2 or 3 months late, it was always Sunday). 

I dont miss the fibroids and the hurdles they represented in my ttc journey, I dont miss the pain, but I do miss having some warning that AF was going to grace me with her presence.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My savior

A lot of people on here started their blog or twitter account to survive infertility.  I remember I started it to tell myself that I was more than my infertility.  That was almost 2 years ago and I still go back and forth.

When I went through my myomectomy I briefly searched on twitter to find like minded ppl but there weren't any I thought. I didn't look too hard.  After that came hematoma and then 4 canceled clomid cycles.

My first failed clomid cycle followed by my first iui. I was pregnant again and during those 4 weeks of roller coaster ride the infertility community found me.

I think it saved me to know I wasn't alone.  I may be 1% of women that miscarry 3 consecutive times or more but I wasn't alone.  Part of me wishes I was,  for I wouldn't wish this on any one of these lovely women. But I wasn't alone.

There was relief,  comfort in finding someone to talk to that understood. Last cycle I had tried talking to fertile women in real life and no one really got it.  I wondered if I was over reacting with every high or low or they were under reacting.  This cycle that just failed I didn't utter a word to anyone in real life,  for I had twitter to share on.

Thank you to all you wonderful people for finding me,  saving me and being my friends. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Failed Cycle

As most of you know by now, my cycle failed. I got a BFN

Failed cycles suck, no doubt about it. 

All that secret hope, possibility come crashing down along with a reminder that all those painful lovanox shots, shoving suppositories and the gazillion pills I guzzled, well it was all for nothing.

Nothing, big Nothing. Am I surprised? Yes I honestly thought that since my first ever iui succeeded last time (atleast in getting me pregnant, I still miscarried) I thought this would be a piece of cake. I know and I kept telling DH not to get his hopes up, but I think both of us still hoped.

I really didnt want another hysteroscopy which waited at the end of this cycle, but here we go again down that roller coaster of joy. (Yes, I was hoping I would not only get pregnant but stay pregnant to avoid that hysteroscopy).

I like to think I am hormonal and that is why tears keep welling up in my eyes every so often since I went past 1 and knew it was a BFN. I cant really blame the hormones though can I? Nope I am just facing the weight of so many things.

I am turning 34 next month, I remember when I was hoping to be well on my way to pregnancy with 29. Age is just a number? but its really not, not when it comes to infertility is it?

I keep telling myself and DH that, I am over it. I will enjoy my month without hormonal rages, enjoy my birthday in a more calm fashion. Honestly who am I kidding, I would have easily given anything to be pregnant on my birthday.

DH is a trooper, with a brave smile but I know he is sad. Sometimes I feel worse for he isnt at fault at all. Its yet another month where he cannot be a father because my body has failed him and failed us yet again.

Its hard to push through the clouds and look for the sunshine. Its hard to not feel punished.

I know I will heal, today I am taking inspiration from a Calm Persistence and her strong spirit. 

The tears will stop, they always do. I will feel "reckless" in doing something crazy like painting my toenails or even coloring my hair. Yes I m a regular rebel.

It will not be another 1.5 years between BFPs, this time it will happen sooner (I hope) for hope is all my empty arms have.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A whole bunch of thoughts

I haven't blogged in a while, partially because its very difficult to write a good blog on the phone and I hate taking up a computer again after I get home from staring at one all day, and partially because I have been too busy or tired or negative and didn't want to spew the negativity on here.

My beta is Monday and I am in a stage of hopeful curiosity with stoic realism. I don't have a good gut feeling this time. I haven't from the beginning.  That doesn't mean I don't inherently wonder if this is the one, if it will still be a BFP. Sometimes it is even for weird reasons like trying to talk DH out of getting a motorcycle or avoiding yet another hysteroscopy.

What is on my mind? It has never escaped me that my beta is a day after Janmashtami (Hindu festival celebrating the birth Krishna.) Apparently Krishna is one of the rare hindu gods worshipped in a childlike form as well as adult. I have been told over and over again by oh so many people that praying to Baby Krishna will give me a baby. My Mother in Law has gifted me 3 Baby Krishnas, over the course of the years, hoping for a grandchild. Sometimes I do believe it and I do pray so hard but most times the cynic in me takes over and I stop praying.

Anyway, prayer is on my mind. My late grandma (the one who passed in April a week before the baby) was in a dream of mine 2 days ago again severely frowning at me and asking me to pray. It was a reminder of my childhood and teen years where she would constantly remind me of the need to pray and I would tell her my prayer is in the form of being a good human being for now. 

I consciously try not to tell people on twitter that I will pray for them. I wish them the absolute best and fervently hope things work out for them but I rarely manage to pray so why promise something I feel I will not keep up.

Even though my gut feeling says negative, I cant help but have a few rays of hope for Monday's beta. My fingers are crossed as I approach monday. I refuse to take  a home test because I know my warped brain will justify any result. A positive, well what if its left over booster trigger, a negative well it could just be early. 

In the meantime I am thinking of all the lovely ladies that have scans this week, particularly Dreaming of Rainbows and A Calm Persistence. (I do feel guilty that I havent done anything about a Calm Persistence's generous blogger award yet, I feel so undeserving with rarely blogging though).

Lately my blogs are all over the place and turn into incoherent rants. But I end it with the sad feeling that I miss the nausea from the trigger shot already. Nausea is always comforting its a sign that things are going the way they are supposed to and I cant help feel disappointed every time it disappears, its a habit now really.