27 January 2008

Chocolate Fountains & Gratitude

I threw myself a birthday party last night. You see, I absolutely love my birthday. I always have and probably always will. There's something almost intoxicating about it. I don't think it has to do with presents. I'm actually convinced that it has to do with having my friends all come together to celebrate. 

I remember as a child that kids in my class would say that they felt sorry for me that my birthday was so close to Christmas. But on the contrary, I think that it's actually an advantage. The end of January is usually a pretty bleak time. Credit card bills have arrived from all the Christmas over-spending. It's usually pretty cold and miserable outside. And I also like to believe that my hubby and I can throw a pretty good party. 

So for one night I got to forget about my empty uterus. One blessed night. A night where the focus was what to dip in the chocolate fountain and not when we were going to finally have babies. One night of feeling blissfully happy that my house was full of good friends. And this morning although the debris of last night's party was lying all around me -- something that would have driven me around the bend on a non-birthday day -- I felt so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. 

Last night I looked around my house and saw my best friend talking to my newer yoga friends, my university friends talking with family friends, and of course there were the little kids running around stealing treats from the kitchen table. Instead of thinking about whether or not I was going to ovulate I got to hear about my friends' cool jobs and my best friend's daughter's boyfriend (she's four!). 

So tonight, I'm going to bed filled with thoughts of goodness. After my birthday party I am once again certain that good things are going to happen to us. I am going to hold onto the hope that I have in my heart. And hopefully the next time I feel like I'm hitting rock bottom I can think about my chocolate fountain birthday and smile. 


24 January 2008

Baby Showers [insert BIG sigh here]

Baby showers seem to be the bane of my existence as an infertile Myrtle. It seems like the more un-pregnant that I become, the more that I have to attend, and in the case of today, throw!

My teaching partner's last day is tomorrow and so I organized a little shower for her from the kids. She was so touched and the kiddies were so happy to watch her open her gifts. But I couldn't help but feel overwhelming dread in the pit of my stomach every time a baby shower balloon went over my head. 

You see I was supposed to have a baby by now. I had it all planned. I got married in July 2005 and then I was going to get pregnant by November 2005 (so I could have the ENTIRE school year off) and then I would have been back to work only half time after my mat leave. It was a fantastic plan. My best friend and I planned to get pregnant together so we could spend mat leave together. It was a brilliant plan. 

She had her baby N in May of 2006 and I'm still barren and still going to baby showers and feel like absolute crap every time I watch the mommy-to-be open up a onesie

This has been a week of the feel-me-sorries and I know that all of the self-pity is causing more anxiety, but really this sucks! 

I need one of those memory erasers that Will Smith had in "Men in Black." Are they available on eBay?????

22 January 2008

Mental Health Day

After my meltdown on Sunday  I decided that I needed a "mental health day." I felt guilty taking any days off when the school year started since I was taking mornings and some afternoons off to go to my former infertility clinic for various appointments to probe my nether regions. 

Oh yes, my evil former infertility clinic.

We lasted three months. Three months of internal ultrasounds with sometimes rough technicians that treated my vagina like it had no nerve endings. Three months of tests that my very kind Ob/Gyn said that I didn't really need. Three months of blood tests that made me feel like I was going to throw up. Have I mentioned that I can't stand the sight of blood (especially my own) and needles scare the living death of me? And a jerky doctor that didn't seem to want to hear that we were not going to undergo IVF, IUI or any other extreme measures. A jerky doctor that told us that adoption was just as risky as IVF. And then proceeded to show us the price list. Selling hope, are we?

Although I sometimes have pangs of panic that leaving the clinic was the wrong idea, I remember how humiliated I felt every time I had to take off my underpants and wrap the white sheet around my mid-section and wait for the ultrasound technician to tell me that she was ready for me. I also remember how angry and grumpy I was every time I had to get the car and drive north to the clinic. I also remember feeling how wrong the clinic was for me. 

You see, my hubby and I are practicing Roman Catholics. My brother-in-law is a priest. We both teach at Catholic schools. Any assisted reproduction is a sin, and although I've bent (and broken) Church Law many, many times, I knew that most things going on at the clinic were setting me on a sure path to hell. 

My cousin and his wife went through IF for almost thirteen years. They tried IVF and they are both practicing Catholics as well, IVF that resulted in a beautiful little girl. I can completely understand why they went the route that they did. But I also know that the self-loathing that I felt sitting in the waiting room full of hopeful women, waiting to see if this was the month that it would take and how guilty I felt that there are so many babies out there already just waiting for me to take them home as my own. 

Deep in my heart I know that if I can't have my own belly baby, that adoption will be the route for us. As my very fertile best friend has said to me, "Pregnancy basically ruins your body. It would be great if you could have your family and not have to get fat!" I honestly believe that she was trying to be sympathetic with that comment. 

The question is, how long do we try? Is it my April deadline (my acupuncturist did say six months...)? Is it when we run out of money? Is it the next time I have to pull into a parking lot in an industrial park to have a good cry? 

I know that I'm not going to find the answers on my Mental Health Day. I'm actually supposed to be doing work on my course, not blogging and importing songs onto my computer! I guess this is the lack of logic that a diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" brings to a life that has been pretty straightforward. 

There's nothing straightforward about this situation. Absolutely nothing. 

21 January 2008

Brought to you by Hallmark....

Yesterday, post-meltdown, I went to the Hallmark store to buy a card for my teaching partner who is leaving for maternity leave at the end of the week. Our students and I chipped in for a swanky spa day for her and I needed a card for the kids to sign. 

While browsing for the cards I happened upon an "Infertility Card". Now, I know that I shouldn't be surprised that cards like that exist, but I was in a very fragile state by the time I made it to the store. So I picked up the card and read it quickly because I could feel the tears returning -- I really don't think that the store would appreciate me curling up into a ball in the middle of the floor -- so I returned it quickly and continued on with my search. 

Although the few people that know about our baby struggle are very sympathetic and understanding, I really can't imagine anyone actually buying that card for me! My best friend is always very supportive and she's always a sympathetic ear. One of my colleagues who went through IF is always ready to lend an ear. But I can't imagine either one of them buying me that card! And really, I don't know if I would want to receive it....

Today was a better day. I had a horrible night's sleep, but I trudged through my day like a trooper. I also decided to take a mental health day tomorrow. I haven't taken one all school year and I think that I'll return to work a much nicer and much saner person. 

This journey is one that I have to take one day at a time, the bigger picture is what is bringing me down. Let's hope that I remember that the next time I hit the bottom head first. 

20 January 2008

Rock Bottom

I had a meltdown today. It was in the cards -- my class was a pain in the ass last week, my coursework is piling up, a mountain of marking, and my crazy family seems to be spinning out of control. And yes, I still haven't made a baby.

So it happened and I had to pull into a parking lot to have a good cry and then I continued on with my errands. And as soon as I got home I crawled into bed and cried some more. 

After crying for a very long time I realized that my time-filling solution really hasn't fixed anything, but now I'm stuck with too many commitments and I have no time to relax. It's a vicious circle: when I'm not busy all I can think of is my baby-lessness and when I'm too busy I get so stressed out that I can't possibly be calm enough to make a baby. 

So how do I strike a balance? Do I start resigning from committees? Do I go into hiding? Move to another country? Go into the witness protection program?

I've never been very good at being a hedonist. In the back of my mind I was hoping that all of my volunteering and good works would make me worthy of having a baby. That all of the self-sacrifice and giving of myself would make the universe give me the baby that I have wanted for so long. 

But is the universe really that cruel? There are plenty of people that have babies that are not very nice. There are plenty of bad parents (as a teacher I have too many examples of that!). 
The hardest part of being diagnosed with "unexplained infertility" is that it is so illogical. I have no explanation. Nothing and no one to blame. Would I feel better if I had something wrong with my reproductive organs? Would it be better to say that my hubby has a low sperm count? Part of me thinks so. 

I've been banging my head and my heart against this horrible, sad wall for so long. 

I really hope that tomorrow is a better day. I have hope for that at least. 

19 January 2008

Procrastinators Anonymous

I have a list taller than me to do today. Which really isn't too hard to believe since I'm just over five feet tall. 
Since starting my online course I've totally been half-assing the responses and posts -- thank God I learned the fine art of pretending to read material in university! All the students loans and Kraft Dinner really paid off! 

I had it in my head that I would go to an early yoga class then head home to do some coursework. Needless to say it's after noon and all I've done is go to yoga, read the newspaper, clean the kitchen, start the laundry and log into my course. And oh yes, visit my blog! Then again, I did have all those things I've already done on the to-do list so really I guess I'm being semi-productive. 

I went to a going-away party for one of my yoga friends last night. She is moving to Vancouver next week with her husband to hopefully expand his career as a documentary film-maker and she is going to do her yoga teacher-training. G is one of the most beautiful people that I have ever met. She's always smiling, full of life and regardless of the hardship she seems to gracefully sail through it. She moved to Ontario from South America two years ago and her house was full of people. Our circle of yoga friends along with her work friends had a great time celebrating the new chapter in her life. I admire that G and her husband are going to explore life in a new province, even though they will be without the support of family and friends. 

I often think that it's a change of scenery that I need. Before I got married I was quite the nomad. From the time that I left home for university until I got my teaching position I had moved a whopping thirteen times -- including moves to France and to Manitoba. I loved the opportunity to re-invent myself and also to meet new people. Now that I own a house and am married to someone that likes to stay in one place, I've had to get used to idea that I have to be happy with where I am. I know that a lot of the moving had to do with running away from problems (and sometimes people) and that I don't have anything to run from presently, I can't seem to shake the need to change something about my life. I just haven't figured out what it is exactly.

I saw my lovely acupuncturist yesterday. After checking my pulse he knew right away that I had a headache (it seems like I've had the same headache for the past week!). He asked me what I had been doing to treat it and I told him that I went to yoga on Thursday and then I took some Advil. S told me, in a round-about way (and also in English that I don't always understand) that I had to learn how to treat the problem from the inside and to not mask it by taking medicine. 

A pretty profound statement for someone that has been going through infertility for over two years.

Maybe I haven't been able to get pregnant because of some psychological block -- I know that physiologically there is nothing wrong with either myself or my hubby. Perhaps it's fear of failure. Maybe I'm just not ready, even though I've convinced myself that I am. I wish that I had the time to just sit and think about all these things, but reality sets in and the dishwasher has to be emptied and tests have to be marked. 

So what is it? Is it because of my weak liver and pancreas? Is it because I'm too stressed out (hopefully my shiatsu massage will help with that next week!)? Or maybe I'm just meant to be childless?

Too I don't have an Magic 8 ball because I really can't decide on what option to take. 

17 January 2008

Jellybelly's List of Why Today Was a Good Day

After an incredibly long week and an especially trying day (why do my students all decide to have meltdowns on the same day?????), I only have the energy to write a list.

Here goes:

1. I found out today that one of my colleagues (that I would love to team-teach with, but will probably never get the chance since we're in different divisions) dislikes my pregnant teaching nemesis. I know that it isn't good karma to be happy that someone else is disliked, but it makes me really happy that I'm not the only one that dislikes TN. 

2. I met a new student this afternoon during yard duty. I knew that my school had gotten two new students and I saw him hanging so I introduced myself to him. I love it when little kids shake my hand! 

3. Despite a very sore head and a bad afternoon (I caught the sweetest kid passing out notes with horrible, despicable language, but then she fessed up. I have to think up some creative punishment for tomorrow) I went to yoga. Actually my hubby pretty much forced me to go. I always take my students' bad behaviour personally (not good, I know) and I frequently get stress headaches, and yoga always makes it better. I went to class and it was amazing. Good energy all around and I know that I'm going to sleep well. 

4.  Tomorrow's Friday. Need I say more?

I need my bed. ASAP. 

15 January 2008

What??? How could you not know?????

I was in the staffroom at lunch at one of my colleagues announced that Giada DiLaurentiis was pregnant. I just watched her clip from the Today show and I still can't believe that she didn't believe that she was pregnant and that she wasn't even trying! 

Now after two years of TTC I can completely understand the not believing, but the part about not trying! Puh-leease!!!!! 

Actually I would consider myself a fan of her show. I love the way that she cooks. Her food is yummy. I've tried quite a few of her recipes. I even entertained the thought that perhaps she was having infertility issues. She's in her late 30's, married, very successful -- all the ingredients for someone to want to have a baby. Well I guess that we've not TTC soulmates after all.

My pregnant nemesis on staff was trying my patience today. Not only did she sit beside me she was complaining about her heartburn and how she wasn't feeling well and how much weight she had gained.... I don't know if I would feel this much animosity for her if I liked her. I think not. 

Perhaps the universe is testing me again. Maybe I have to work through my jealousy and frustration before I can conceive my own baby. 

I also saw my acupuncturist this afternoon. I mentioned to him that since I started seeing him in November that my periods have gotten shorter and they're not as heavy. He said that it was an indication that my insides were getting stronger. He also mentioned that five women that saw him in the summer have gotten pregnant (although he did mention that there were three that continued to do IVF). 

It's all about perception and point of view, right? Today I'm deciding to be positive. I'm going to be a mom, I just may need to be a little more patient...

14 January 2008

Baby mamas

My eighteen year old cousin had a baby over the Christmas holidays. Or to be more precise, his girlfriend (baby mama, tee hee) had a baby over the Christmas holidays. She thought that she was going to have the baby in February, but the little one arrived on January 4th. And did I mention that she didn't see a doctor her entire pregnancy? And that her parents had no idea that she was pregnant? I'm still trying to wrap my head around the last one. 

My cousin is convinced that living in his parents' basement (in a very small house) and working at a sporting goods store that his new family will be fine. He's very lucky that his parents are being supportive since the baby mama's mother is more concerned with painting her house (her current reason for the baby mama and baby living with my cousin's family). 

We found out that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant over Thanksgiving. I honestly felt like I had been kicked in the gut. My entire extended family has been putting on the procreation pressure since the day after our wedding, and yes usually that's how it happens. One gets married then has a baby. After all we could afford to support a baby. We have benefits and a three bedroom house. For Pete's sake, we even have licenses (which my cousin does not)! 
I did have the fleeting idea that I would offer to adopt the baby and raise it as my own. I didn't even say that one out loud since doing that would involve just so many family politics that remaining childless would be so much easier. 

So instead I'm organizing a gift for the baby. My fellow cousins and I are going to chip in and get the new family a gift card so they can buy stuff for their new arrival. And then we're all going to visit the new family and happily present it to them. 

I will smile and pretend that everything is wonderful. Not only will I not judge them, but I will also be extremely happy for them and I will support them with my love and prayers. 

I wonder how much chocolate I will consume after that visit...

Maybe I should buy shares Lindt chocolate. Are they publicly traded? I could make a fortune. 

13 January 2008

I guess my pancreas still needs some more strength training....

So I've started spotting. But it didn't surprise me this month since I was feeling all the pre-period symptoms (sore boobs, acne, extreme tiredness... what fun!). I'm actually quite glad that I started this blog, at least I have something pro-active to do rather than just eat chocolate and feel sorry for myself. Although chocolate sounds really good right about now...

As my acupuncturist said on Friday: things are looking better, but we still have a way to go. He didn't say, "No, you're barren. You will never have your own baby. Give up now." That's good, right? 

At church this morning I noticed a family with an adopted Chinese daughter.  There's another family with two little Chinese girls that are just the cutest. They sit up at the front (I guess to keep the girls from misbehaving! Not easy since they're both under the age of four!) and apparently they call the priest God. I think that's the funniest! Anyhow, the little girl was trying to get her dad to pay attention to her and he just put her arm around her to give her a hug. He just looked so happy to have this beautiful little angel in his life. I can only imagine what kind of struggle they had until they decided to adopt. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something, I don't know.

I may be oversensitive today but I saw pregnant women everywhere! Every time I turned around there was another huge belly staring at me in the face. I remember before I got married that I could imagine myself all big and round, unfortunately after two years of struggle I can't seem to wrap my head around it any more. 

One of the things I was told to do by my acupuncturist is to imagine being pregnant. I'm supposed to meditate every night for twenty minutes with a heated magic bag on my belly. I was really good at it when I started seeing S, but I've fallen off the wagon. January is a time for resolutions (and I didn't make any!), so I think that I should stop my pattern of negativity and imagine my baby. Imagine it growing inside of me. Imagine my baby in my house. Imagine my baby being in my arms. 

I can do it. If I set my mind to it I can do anything. Right?

12 January 2008

It's amazing what your tongue can tell...

I saw my acupuncturist yesterday and I finally was brave enough to ask him if he saw any improvement.  According to my initial TCM diagnosis I do not have enough blood to my reproductive organs and I have a weak pancreas. I also have a very ticklish back that makes it hard for eggs to be released. All of this seemed to make sense to my infertile mind since we had been TTC for two years and we had nothing physiologically wrong with both of us. So S asked to see my tongue before he did my treatment and according to him my blood flow is improving, but we still have a way to go since my back is still so ticklish. 

I'm really glad that I've decided to believe this because seeing it in on my computer screen makes it seem REALLY far-fetched. 

I keep reminding myself that I'm still relatively young in the reproduction game and Toni Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility recommends trying alternative medicine if you're not in a big rush.  Now if I was closer to 40 I should be more aggressive, but i still have two years until 35. I have the time, right?


Now some venting: I am working with a couple of women that are pregnant. One of them is someone that I work very closely with and the other is my teaching nemesis. The latter is always making comments about how big she's getting, how she can't believe the size of her breasts, how fast she got pregnant. I realize that she has no idea about our struggle to get pregnant, but I really just want to punch her out every time she talks about her pregnancy.  

I just find it so unfair that someone so self-centered (I felt this way about her even before her pregnancy), unprofessional (she answers her cell phone when she's teaching!!!!!), boorish (she's always making inappropriate comments, pregnancy aside), and generally loud and annoying. While I believe that I am usually the opposite of all her negative qualities.  Of course I am! 

But I guess that infertility doesn't have a barometer for fairness. I'd like to believe that if there was I would have more than one baby. 

And that's what we're aiming for. Just one.  Is that too much to ask for?

10 January 2008

That's me! That's me!

I was having a typical Thursday morning.  Standing in my favourite spot that has the best vantage point of the school yard. All the kids were having a good time chasing one another, playing cops and robbers, you know the typical schoolyard games. 

One of my wonderful colleagues and I were talking about an upcoming baby shower and the gifts we were planning on buying. I mentioned getting Robert Munsch's "I Love You Forever" since it's such a beautiful story. If you don't know, Robert Munsch's wife had multiple miscarriages and he wrote the story in memory of all of his lost babies. I said, "It's amazing that someone that is such a fantastic writer for kids doesn't have a family of his own!" And my colleague said, "Yeah, it seems like life works out that way. There's lots of people that should have children that don't." Right then and there I wanted to jump up and down and say "That's me! That's me!" But I didn't. 

I love kids. Kids love me. I come from a HUGE family. My husband comes from a HUGE family. I have amazing kid intuition. I'm patient. I'm loving. I have a wonderful husband. We could provide a wonderful life. We have a beautiful home with lots of room. And most of the time, I am a good person.

But despite all of that I still don't have my own baby.  

I'm an optimist. I always have been. And throughout this two year struggle I keep on thinking that the universe is trying to teach me something. Perhaps I need to be more patient. Perhaps I'm not ready. Perhaps I'm supposed to become a mom another way, after all there's lots of babies out there to love. 

But I keep on going back to the fact that I want my own baby. One that looks like me. One that grows inside of me. Is that me being selfish? 

Maybe this path I'm on is leading me to other answers. Maybe this will be the month. Maybe, just maybe. 

9 January 2008

What have I gotten myself into?

So I've started an online course.  I was really excited before it started this morning, but now I'm wondering if I'm crazy to do a course, do tons of yoga, and of course, work. 

Oh yes, one cannot forget work!

I'm a teacher and I love my job 90% of the time. I just wish that I didn't have to wake up so early and that some of my students were not such pains in the ass. I also think that I would love my job more if I didn't have to teach particular things, just stuff that interested my students. Unfortunately I have administration and parents to answer to. For example, I would love to do a unit on how to shop on eBay.  The kids would love it!  They could learn how to bid on auctions, how to communicate with sellers to find out about shipping and information about what they're bidding on.  The kids could even auction their own stuff.  We could give the proceeds to charity or raise money to go on a cool field trip! I'd also love to do a music appreciation unit -- any music, not just the stuff in the curriculum. I never want to teach the recorder again!!! I would love to bring in a Depeche Mode CD and tell them how "A Question of Lust" affected me as a teenager. 

Alas, I don't live in a world where I could just hang out with kids, I have to be accountable and I must have data to support my grades. And yes, giving grades suck. I can tell in the first two days of school if a kid knows their stuff, I don't need a test to tell me! 

So this morning I printed off all the materials that I need for my course. I have my binder all ready and all of my dividers labeled (yes, I am a total nerd). The course goes until April 25th.  By the way, I have decided that I'm staying with my acupuncturist/TCM practitioner until April. Hopefully April will be a baby-making month. 

Oh yes, baby-making. That's why I took the course, to take my mind off of baby-making.

Think it's going to work? I really hope that it will. 

7 January 2008

So here I go....

I never thought that I would do it, but here I am.  

I've always kept a diary and since I started university in 1994 I've been a BIG fan of the internet.  Why not pair the two? 

My husband and I are entering our second year of trying to have a baby. I've gone through every emotion possible -- despair, hopefulness, utter sadness, hopelessness.  I've gone through periods where I've convinced myself that I didn't really want a baby.  I've filled my days with commitments and plans so I'm too tired to think about having a baby.

2008 is going to be different.

I may not be able to start a conversation with, "Hi, I'm JellyBelly and I can't seem to have a baby." or even tell my parents or my in-laws about our struggle, but apparently I can post my thoughts for any stranger to read. 

Who knows what I will discover.  I just hope that my story doesn't end sadly. 

I guess I'm feeling hopeful today.