Tag Archives: infertility sucks

Why I’m Not More Upset

Published / by Kim / 2 Comments on Why I’m Not More Upset

Something strange happened recently: a possible newborn adoption just fell into my lap like a gift from the gods. My brother called to tell me that a friend of his was pregnant and didn’t want to parent. She had my number and was going to call. It turned out that she changed her mind about adoption within a few days, so nothing ever came of it. That part isn’t really so odd. I’m sure suddenly pregnant women find themselves considering and discarding adoption on a regular basis. The really strange part was that, when it turned out to be something that wouldn’t happen, I wasn’t upset.

I think there are several reasons I was able to take it so easily. One is that it all happened so fast. From the moment Alex called to when he called to let me know she didn’t want to pursue it, not even a week passed. I was still standing in line for the emotional roller coaster instead of riding it in full swing. Another reason is that I knew it was highly unlikely that it would proceed. It sounded to me like the friend wanted to pursue a different choice and I’m glad she’s going to do what’s right for her.

But the biggest reason I’m not more upset is that I don’t think I want a newborn anymore. Oh, sure. If something happened and I suddenly found myself in the position that a newborn adoption was happening, I’d welcome it, but it’s no longer something I think I care to pursue. The more I think about adopting an older child, the more I want it. I’m not foolish enough to believe any adoption is easy, let alone one that brings me to mother a child with already developed interests and a personality and a history that probably contains some form of abuse. Even so, I feel ready to take all that on in a way I don’t feel ready to take on the realities of a newborn.

I still have pangs of heartache when I see babies, especially now when it seems everyone I know has just had or is having one. But I find that I’m not really barren and bitter anymore. It’s more of a barren and melancholy now, and I see the melancholy lifting over time because I see the possibility of parenting coming soon.

The Most Important Person To Trust

Published / by Kim

In a recent post about my upcoming surgery, I mentioned how much I trust Dr. Firm Handshake. Having a doctor you trust – whether it’s an oncologist, a general practitioner, or a foot doctor – is a key part in developing a health care partnership with the people you depend on to keep or make you well. As I was laying in bed this morning trying to will myself to get up, it occurred to me that trust in someone else is much more important even than trust in your doctor, and that’s trust in yourself.

A large part of the reason this tumor was able to grow to record size* was that I didn’t trust myself. I knew something was wrong. I knew for many months. Some of you who follow me on Twitter may recall that last summer I was researching – with Dr. Google, of course – what surgical abdominal scar tissue might feel like and what sorts of problems it might cause. When I couldn’t attribute the weird feeling of separateness in my belly to scar tissue, I decided it must just be bloating and blew it off. As if I don’t know how bloating really feels.

With my scar tissue theory thrown out for lack of evidence, I knew what the problem had to be. Deep inside I knew it, but I kept denying that there was a problem. Why? Because I didn’t want to be a bother. I didn’t want to be wrong. I didn’t want to go take up a doctor’s time and find out there was nothing wrong with me and look foolish. Even though I went through this three times before and knew there was a problem I didn’t trust myself, my own knowledge, or my instincts.

I think a large part of the reason I didn’t listen to what I knew inside was that it’s been driven home by the medical community so many times that we, as patients, shouldn’t trust ourselves. Oh, sure, the literature will tell you that you should, but experiences with individual doctors says otherwise. Here’s an example: Right around the time Scott and I got married, my thyroid went entirely out of control. My heart sometimes tried to beat out of my chest, I couldn’t hold out my hands without them shaking, I was ravenously hungry all the time. I had classic symptoms of hyperthyroid, as well as some not so classic but documented symptoms. One of those was hives, which is how I was diagnosed, because I went to the doctor for hives and he noticed the palsy in my hands. Following my diagnosis, there followed a short period where I was in and out of the doctor’s office with a long list of strange complaints while my endocrinologist tried to get my medication dosage correct. One of the complaints was shooting pains in my arms. The doctor I saw for that looked at my chart, saw that I was being treated for a hyperthyroid disorder, ignored that, and told me I had weak arms and needed physical therapy.

My endocrinologist later told me that shooting pain in the limbs is often a sign of hyperthyroid problems. The other doctor just dismissed my concerns, my experience, and my medical records. He knew best and that was that.

That gave me a big lesson in not always trusting what one doctor says and instead asking another. It was also when I began to realize that I was my most important health advocate. Infertility further drove that home for me. And yet, after all of that, and after three bouts with this disease, I still didn’t trust myself enough to go see Dr. Firm Handshake right away. When Scott and I were sitting in his office to get the results of the CT scan and Dr. Firm Handshake led with, “Well, I have good news**…” I still expected him to say he didn’t see anything wrong with me.

Even though I’ve been in discomfort since August and pain since December. Even though my belly is so big that twice I splayed my fingers over it on a crowded subway train and guys leapt up to give me their seats***. Even though I knew something was wrong, I still expected him to say it was all in my head. That’s sick, right?

So what I’m saying here is this: if you think there’s something wrong, for gods’ sake, so get yourself checked out. Trust the little voice inside you telling you there’s a problem. You know you better than anyone. And if you know something is wrong and go to a doctor who says it’s not, go to another one. We all need to take charge of our own health and make sure we get the care we need and deserve.

* Record size for me. I’m aware there are far larger tumors out there.

** Yes, he really did lead with news of a 28cm tumor with “I have good news.” In a way, it is good news, because it’s one big mass instead of several smaller ones. That makes it less likely to be invasive, so that’s good news.

*** Yes, I did that on purpose. I’m not proud. I wanted to sit. I may as well get SOME perks out of this.

In Which I Begin Planning For My Future

Published / by Kim / 2 Comments on In Which I Begin Planning For My Future

A couple of months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend who never had children. It was probably rude of me to ask*, but I asked him whether he and his wife were childfree by choice or childless by nature. The reason I asked is that I’m trying to begin to see what a life without children will look like. While we do still plan to adopt an older child once we buy a home later this year, we all know how well my plans for parenthood have worked out thus far. So I need a backup plan.

This friend of mine replied that he and his wife were childfree by choice. As soon as he said it, I started, in my head, to dismiss the conversation. After all, the experiences of the childfree aren’t the same as the experiences of the childless. The childfree are happy with not having children, while those of us who are childless aren’t. Right?

Well, no, not exactly. Because as soon as I started thinking of moving on to other topics, he said, “But I’ll tell you, we’re really regretting the hell out of it now.” I’d found a kindred spirit after all. Having found some common ground, we started talking about things people with children probably never think about. Things like “When we die, what will happen to our mementos? Who will remember the life we built together?” and also, inevitably, “Who’s going to wipe my ass when I’m old?”

My friend’s solution to this problem is to bribe his nieces and nephews. He told them all that whichever one of them wipes his ass when he’s old will get his entire estate. That’s a pretty good deal, because, as I understand it, his estate isn’t insignificant. I’m sure he could pay someone to perform such functions for him, but it’s nice to know family has your back. Or at least that they have your backside.

The more I thought about it, the more I began to think my friend is on to something. So on my recent visit to my mother’s in Georgia, I decided to spring the concept on my 11-year-old nephew, Miles. We don’t get to see each other very often, so I didn’t think it was appropriate to open with ass-wiping, but when the talk turned to what we’d like done with us after we die**, it seemed like a natural opening.

“Well,” I told him, “When I die, I want to be cremated and then have the ashes turned into a diamond. They can do that, you know.”

He was suitably impressed.

“Yeah, a diamond. And then I want them to make me into an engagement ring and you can give it to your fiancée when you decide to get married.”

This took him aback a little. He asked, understandably, why he would want to give his fiancée a ring made out of me instead of out of his own mother.

“Because,” I said. “Because, I’ll put it in my will that if you do that, you’ll get everything. My money, cars, jewelry, house, all of it.”

Not to be left out, Scott added that he wanted to be made into pencils. They can do that, you know. And he wanted Miles to use him to take his SAT if Uncle Scott died before it was time to take the exam. We eventually decided this plan wouldn’t work, because we’re pretty sure you can’t have your ashes made into number 2 pencils. We wouldn’t want the kid to fail just because Uncle Scott turned into the wrong kind of pencil.

But back to the engagement ring, Miles jumped on board once I brought up the will, so I think we’re good to go on that. He did express one tiny reservation, however. What would happen, he wanted to know, if he and his wife ever broke up? I told him he’d have to insist she take his Aunt Kim off her finger and give me back. He decided it would have to be in the pre-nup.

Maybe next time we can talk about how he and his wife are going to have to take care of me in my dotage in order to get that diamond.

*But if you can’t speak to your friends about this stuff, who can you speak to about it?

**It may sound a weird thing to have come up with an 11-year-old, but my family is nothing if not weird. In most families, such topics might seem grisly, but we’re talking about a kid who, along with his sister Marley, was in a low-budget zombie movie. This is a kid who sees movies like this with his dad. Topics like this are the norm.

Just A Little Pinprick

Published / by Kim
Originally posted on April 16, 2002. Oh, what hopeful enthusiasm I had back then for all kinds of treatments to help with my infertility. I think posts like this help show how I turned into the bitter old crone we all know and love today. It’s honestly funny to me today to read this and see how hesitant I was about fertility treatments. And now here I am considering using another woman’s egg for IVF.

Just got back from my acupuncturist!

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for what seems like forever. It will be two years in August. When we started, I thought I would have a 1-year-old by now.

One of the great ironies of my life is that I spent so much energy worrying about unwanted pregnancies when I was younger, and now that I want a baby the body just isn’t cooperating.

We’ve gone through preliminary testing with established Western medicine: semen analysis, an HSG to rule out blocked tubes or malformed uterus. Three cycles of Clomid – a mild fertility drug – which was ridiculous, but my GYN insisted I try it before being referred to a specialist. Everything checked out, and of course the Clomid didn’t work. Clomid is for women who don’t ovulate on their own. I don’t fit that bill.

So, now that we’re through the Clomid, I’m supposed to go back to my GYN for the referral to a reproductive endocrinologist, but I haven’t. Infertility treatments are seriously invasive, so I wanted to try some alternative therapies before moving on to that. Enter acupuncture.

I’ve been seeing my acupuncturist twice a week for the last 4 weeks. He says my hormones are out of whack, and the work he’s doing is supposed to bring them back into balance. In another week or two, my treatment should be complete.

With something like this, it’s kind of hard to tell if it’s working until I get pregnant. There are some ways to measure, though. My acupuncturist uses a probe thingy to check my ear points every two weeks. The first time, the machine went crazy when he reached the hormone ear points on both ears. My initial readings were 60 in one ear and 58 in the other. They dropped to 37 and 39 the second time, and to 30 and 27 last week. Under 25 is normal.

Oddly, I ovulated on day 14 of my current cycle, which is when “normal” women ovulate. Usually, my body isn’t ready to release that egg until day 16, 17, or 18.

I have no idea if this is working, but, if nothing else, I’m enjoying the sessions. The 20 minutes I spend lying there with the needles in – 1 in each calf, 1 in each wrist, 3 in the abdomen, and 3 in each ear – is the only time I ever have to just “be.” It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being in a meditative state.

Okay, enough rambling for now. Here’s an article about acupuncture, in case you want to read more.