Saturday, 17 November 2012

Writing Again

It’s been over a month since I last wrote anything on this blog.
There are several reasons for that. I’ve been really busy and preoccupied with a lot of other things not related to my fertility issue. In a way, this is good. Instead of wringing my hands and worrying about every little thing about the fertility treatment, I have put my time, effort and emotion into worthwhile projects. Since the unsuccessful superovulation process last September and the IUI had to be cancelled, I have been in a sort of “fallow” period. I had a hysteroscopy done at the clinic last week and I have started on the Estrace tablets several days ago. The more involved processes of IVF will begin later in the month for me. So my mind has been free to wander and dwell on other things. This break has been great for me and my psyche. To gather my strength for the long haul coming up, to recharge my batteries so to speak.
The other reason why I haven’t written is that I hate writing. I know, I know. This might surprise you since here I am writing. I read somewhere about a famous writer once saying that she (or he) hates the process writing but absolutely love the feeling of having written. I am not famous; nor do I really consider myself a writer but I definitely share the sentiment of this person. I have always had real challenges starting essays, reports, term papers in school.  This is not limited to academic paper. I feel the same with creative writing stuff like stories or poetry. I have to push myself – hard – to just sit down and type away. To just express ideas, thread words and sentences together and not mind the critical voice editing words I have not even said yet. But I do love the feeling of having written, especially something that is meaningful and relevant to me. It makes me feel happy, like I have accomplished something.
I can also be obsessed with expressing things in a certain way. I am continuing to learn that sometimes it’s much easier to let my stories, thoughts and ideas unravel in an organic way. To not necessarily stick to the outlines I have crafted. To let emotions unfold naturally without striving to be wise and witty or snarky and bitchy or funny and hilarious ALL the time.
So in the next few hours (or maybe days or weeks!), I hope to explore my thoughts and feelings on “coming out” of the infertility closet, the perspective of the Catholic Church on IVF, and the people who have supported and nourished me in this journey.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Preggers, eh?

Sitting in a café one afternoon, I heard someone call my name. I turned to see an acquaintance I first met in a fitness class.
“Oh my God, Sara, it’s been ages since we last saw each other,” she gushed. I smiled. I just wanted to be alone at that moment. Alone with my book, wanting to escape to a fictional universe, where my problems are locked away in the real world.
“How are you?” The acquaintance (I refuse to call her my friend) continued with her signature high-pitch, cheerful, saccharine sweet voice.
“Not bad,” I replied and shrugged. She stepped back and looked at me up and down, not unlike a judge would look at a cow in a country fair.
“Oh, Sara, don’t tell me….” she had an expression like she just heard she was announced winner of a beauty pageant. “Sara, are you pregnant?” Then she shrieked! I thought this was getting to be too much. She was getting on my nerves but still I continued to smile and act diplomatic.
“Oh, no, I’m not pregnant. I wish! It’s just food baby. Har Har!” I rambled on, a mix of emotion simmering inside me.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Then an awkward silence as both of us stood there. “Well,” the acquaintance was back to her cheerful self, “I better get going. My latte is getting cold.”
“It is.” I said with just a little bit of sarcasm. She said her goodbye and walked away. I sat down feeling deflated. Maybe I should have told her that I don’t look as fit and slim as she was because I’ve been lounging in my couch the past week depressed that our first attempt with fertility treatment didn’t work. That I have been loafing around in my house in my pajamas watching the boob tube for days on end or sleeping during the day because I can’t sleep at night.  That I have been eating lots of cookies, cakes and chips hoping, but not succeeding, to feel better. That I haven’t been exercising because I don’t really see the point anymore. This getting pregnant business is way harder than it seemed. Why do many women I know seem to just get pregnant without any trouble? I just want to crawl into a deep dark cave and stay there. But I did not. That day, I forced myself to take a shower and change and get out of the house to hopefully get out of my self-aggravated misery.
Yup, I should have told her all of that. I should have at least told her that to ask an infertile woman who has been trying hard to conceive if she was pregnant felt like a cruel joke. But somehow everything went too fast for me to give a thoughtful response.

And her latte was getting cold.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Some things Filipinos say to their Fertility-challenged friends and family

OR:  What NOT to say to your fertility-challenged friends and relatives if you value their friendship
So you have stopped going to gatherings - parties, weekly family lunches, school reunions. You especially avoid baptismal parties. That's when nosey, er, well-meaning relatives, friends and neighbours ask when you're going to have a baby. You use to enjoy going to fiestas...especially when your cousin set up the karaoke. You used to be the centre of attention as you belt "Dancing Queen" and show them your killer dance moves. But then the Spanish inquisition always happens. When is a baby coming? What's taking you so long? Do you know how to make a baby? Is your husband shooting blanks? What's wrong with you? Maybe you would like to switch your song from "Dancing Queen" to "Killing Me Softly"?

You tell these well-meaning relatives, friends and neighbours that some couples have infertility issues. That's when clichés start pouring in. You’re tired of not knowing what to say when people say these things --supposedly to make you feel better. You bear and grin it, of course. You're so diplomatic; you should have been in the UN! You continue to be polite and nice even if a remark has pushed our touchy, infertile button. Or you stay home and avoid meeting people.

So you don’t have to hide from people forever, here are some suggestions in responding to other people’s useless well-intentioned platitudes.
(Note: if you are like me and have a problem sounding undiplomatic, use these responses as an inner monologue. For example, if my cousin says "when are going to have a baby?" I answer "soon" but I think "it's none of your business.")

It will come. I just know it.
                Really? Wow! Have you been recently appointed as a modern-
                day prophet?
Relax. You’ll get pregnant if you’ll just reeee-lax!

               I tried relaxing but my fallopian tubes are still blocked. Know any spa that can unblock my tubes?
In the end, it will be okay.
How do you know? Granted, in the end, everything will be okay. However, it’s not “the end” yet. It’s NOW. And right now, I AM not okay.
You’re lucky you don’t have any children. They’re just headaches.
Why do you have 13 children then? You must love headaches!
Don’t be angry/sad/disappointed. (Don’t feel the way you feel right now.)
Why not? Don’t I have the right to my feelings just as you have the right to be utterly confused listening to me? I can see how it’s difficult for you to understand how I feel right now because you haven’t experienced what I’m going through right now.
As a saying goes: “Don’t expect anyone to understand your journey especially of they have never walked your path.”
Everything happens for a reason.
Yeah, maybe. But I don’t need for you to explain or rationalize things to me right at this very moment. I don’t need it. I don’t want it.
Do a headstand after sex.
Been there, done that. In fact, I have danced the fertility jig in my backyard in my birthday suit at midnight when the moon was full. All I got were nasty mosquito bites and the lingering mephitic smell from the skunk that scared the bejesus out of me!
Have you prayed the 9-day novena to the fertility saint?
Sure, I did that. I have also lighted countless of vigil candles in the span of the 2 years I have been trying to conceive that frankly if I lighted them all at one time, I would have set a church on fire. And yes, I have offered eggs to the Carmelite nuns. Because everyone else continually offers eggs to the poor nuns for prayer requests, I won’t be surprised if the nuns will start having heart attacks due to a dramatic increase of their cholesterol levels!
(And one of my “favorites”….)
It’s God’s will. Just accept it.
Okay, for example you get stranded in Caramoan Islands by yourself – WITHOUT the whole crew of the reality TV-series Survivor. Will you just sit in the pristine beach the whole time, gnaw on your nails and wait for Jeff Probst to rescue you? Hell, no. You’re going to look for food and water, find coconut palm trees with which to make a shelter, start a fire by rubbing some bits of bamboo trunk (unless you’d like to eat that wild chicken you chased for an hour raw), search for twigs and branches to keep the fire going, etc, etc, etc. It maybe God’s will that you are in a deserted island BUT is it His (or Her) will that you die?       

So will I able to accept it if because of my fertility problems, I won’t have a child? Eventually, yes. Of course, I can accept that. But not without trying first. Not without trying my darndest best.
Accepting God’s will, sure. But God gifted me my own will, too.
Besides, when I was a little girl, I was taught to “do my best and God will do the rest."

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

It's a Fertile World

One of the things I’m learning a lot now about infertility is not just the science aspect of it. More and more, I’m getting pretty familiar with the emotional roller coaster that infertility brings. In my research, fertility experts strongly suggest that couples dealing with infertility issues seek help and support from friends and family.

After our first attempt at fertility treatment last month, I have not shared my situation to many. Well-meaning friends and family members may not know it but sometimes they make things worse by spewing out platitudes. Friends and family always have good intentions but things that were originally meant to make the other feel better sometimes end up being hurtful and insensitive. One of my fears is that they would not understand. Believe me, I have been in the same situation. When hubby and I started visiting the fertility clinic, there was a sign at the reception area that said: “In consideration of our other clients, please refrain from bringing children to the clinic.”
Acting like a total buffoon, I pointed the sign to hubby and said: “Do you think women will break down and bawl their eyes out when they see a kid?” I laughed hysterically. The thought was so comical to me. This was two years ago. The past months though, I am the one breaking down and blubbering when I check my Facebook.  I see high school classmates, friends and former students posting ultrasound of their babies (technically a fetus yet but that doesn't stop them from calling it a baby), photos of their baby bumps, gazillon photos of their newborn babies and copious updates of the latest antics and perceived brilliance of their progeny. It’s practically driving me up the (Facebook) wall!
Tomorrow I am thinking of posting this: “In consideration of over-sensitive, touchy, infertile women, please restrain yourself from blatantly showing off your fertility!”      

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ovary goes AWOL

“You’re right ovary is hiding from me.”
Dr. K announced as she waved the (ultrasound) wand inside my uterus. Great, I thought. My right ovary had decided to play hide-and-seek! Dr. K was conducting a transvaginal ultrasound so we’ll know how many egg follicles are developing in my ovaries. After a couple of minutes, we knew that my right ovary had about 2 little egg follicles and my left had about 5 good-sized egg follicles. This would have been good news except that my left fallopian tube is blocked. Perfect. Just perfect. Rotten eggs. Rotten, rotten eggs. Rotten luck.
Sometime early this year and together with our fertility doctor (Dr. T), hubby and I have decided on the superovulation/IUI fertility treatment. Five days before the ultrasound, we had started on the superovulation part of the treatment. This meant injecting myself daily (supposedly for about ten days) with a low dose (150 IU) of Puregon to stimulate the growth of egg follicles. Since there is very little or no possibility that the 5 good-sized egg follicles in my left ovary will migrate to my right fallopian tube anytime soon, Dr. K recommended we cancel the cycle at this point and not proceed with the IUI.  
Dr. K and Nurse J were pretty sympathetic. Hubby felt very disappointed but I. was. OKAY. Or seemed to be. “At least, we know how my female plumbing system is doing. We’re learning more and more as we proceed with this,” I said like a peppy leader in an election campaign.
It was a different story when we got home. I crumpled on the couch, feeling very sad and angry with my rotten luck. But mostly I felt sadness, deep sadness that hubby and I are getting farther away from having the child that we wanted.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Great Eggs-pectation

Growing up in the Philippines, I know that the cultural pressure for a woman to marry and have children can be very intense. At 26 years old, I was already called a spinster in my village. I was questioned by family and strangers alike what my problem was. Why can’t I choose someone, anyone? Was I being too choosy? No, I said. I just haven’t met anyone who I think would be a suitable partner for me. Many of my relatives thought this was totally hogwash. I thought they should just leave me alone!
At 32, when I first moved to Canada, I met someone who I knew would be a suitable life partner for me. He thought I was a suitable life partner for him, too. So the Reader’s Digest version of the story is: we married and for a while my family and friends left alone. But not for long. After awhile, they started asking when we’re going to have a baby. All of these questions were honest and innocuous; but it came from a perspective that couples marry for the sole purpose of having children and that any couple can have children if and when they want to.
Reality is not that simple. Some couples (especially from Europe and North America) decide not to have children for practical, ethical or philosophical reasons. Like my hubby and I, some couples do want to have children but have infertility issues that make it harder for them to get pregnant without medical help. Endometriosis, PCOS, varicocele, and hormonal problems are just some of the many common causes of infertility[i].
If you haven’t heard much about infertility and some of its causes before, you’re not alone. Before I knew I had infertility issues, I was totally clueless about these things. I mean, I had life all planned out. I was going to have a baby after I do all the things in my check list. Simple enough. But I soon found out that life doesn’t work that way.