Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giving up?

I’ve said that I am giving up on fertility treatments and moving on to foster adopt. This is the story behind that decision. If you know me in real life, please understand that these are things I don’t talk about, not even with my husband or therapist. Please don’t discuss anything you see here with anyone, not even me. If I want to talk about it, I will bring it up.

I’ve never gotten around to posting the details of my experience with IF and how my life has gone so far. I want to do that now because I feel like I have to justify my decision to stop fertility treatments after what seems like very little effort. I realize this is probably all in my head, but I still thought it would be helpful to have my readers understand where I am coming from. It also helps me to have all my thoughts and reasons laid out.

The journey so far stuff will take a long time to write so here are the cliff notes:

15/16 years old: diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism (hashimoto’s), goiter, and delayed onset of puberty. Finally began menstruating 3 months before turning 16, five years after developing breasts.

19 years old: put on birth control after a 3 month period, never having had a “normal” period. Periods became regular but debilitating.

21 years old: diagnosed with recurrent PID, no known cause. Several months of antibiotics cleared it up but abdominal pain continued. Endometriosis diagnosed after lap.

22-27 years old: no insurance, no boyfriend. Learn to live with horrible, unpredictable periods.

2001: rear-ended at 40 miles an hour, resulting in severe soft-tissue injury in back and neck. I’ve been in chronic pain since then, sometimes controllable with OTC meds.

28 years old (2004): married and ttc. Tried for over a year with no success. Started charting and using OPKs, conceived after 6 months of timed sex. Carried to term after a hard pregnancy and delivered a beautiful baby girl in 2006!

2008: dropped out of grad school, stopped bcp, got laid off, and moved in with MIL across the country.

2009: hubby and I find good jobs, finally have insurance, and move out of MIL’s. Start trying to get pregnant in earnest. Periods became even more erratic – luteal phase defect.

June - August 2009: tried metformin to regulate periods (suspected PCOS), it worked a little but the luteal phase was still too short. We tried 50 mg clomid and it worked!

December 2009: so much for that. Turns out I have MTHFR and we are REALLY lucky to have a healthy, living child. Our son Aiden had every neural tube defect there is and we chose to end the pregnancy with heavy, broken hearts.

April 2010: we decided to try again. I am on Neevo prenatal for the MTHFR. Further testing revealed no indications of PCOS so we went straight for the clomid when it became apparent that the luteal phase defect was still around. Two failed cycles later I have decided enough is enough.

Now, to the average infertile with multiple IUIs and IVFs under their belt, one unassisted and successful pregnancy and two failed clomid cycles may not seem like much. But here is where I think I am a little different. I had a bad childhood with abusive parents and lots of bad experiences. Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it is very dangerous for me to have sex if I don’t feel like it. I didn’t even like sex until I met my husband. This makes timed sex extremely difficult to accomplish, especially after my existing sex drive took a nose dive after my daughter was born. So that is strike one.

My pregnancy with my daughter was awful. Due to the injury from the car accident I was in pain every day, often excruciating pain. I couldn’t take anything because I was pregnant so I tried to suck it up. Then I went into premature labor at 30 weeks. It was stopped with magnesium in the hospital but after that I had a very “irritable” uterus. I was unable to do much of anything for the rest of my pregnancy. After she was born I seriously didn’t want to ever be pregnant again. I did want more children. My husband and I are in careers that we love, but they don’t pay much and jobs are often not permanent and don’t usually come with benefits. This means that any kind of private adoption was completely out of the question. After much debate and weighing the options we decided that we would try for another baby of our own making. My fertility became even worse and we were so grateful to get pregnant with Aiden. We thought we were done. I was nervous that I would have another horrible pregnancy but willing to suffer for the chance of another baby. Of course we all know how that turned out. That was strike two.

So now I am left with a hole that I desperately want to fill, but I don’t know how I should go about doing it. I wanted to give pregnancy another try, mostly because I just didn’t want it to end this way. But I find I can’t keep doing this.

I have struggled with self-hatred my entire life. I was always told that I wasn’t good enough, and for many, many years I believed that. Now I have a little more self confidence and self worth, but it doesn’t take much to knock my feet out from under me. Trying to have sex when I am not in the mood feels like rape, even if my husband is not “making” me. It makes me feel dirty and angry and worthless. Maybe with many more years of therapy I could get over that, but it is my reality now. Charting feeds my self-hatred. Every day that my body doesn’t do what it is supposed to, I hate myself a little more. I can’t seem to separate the failure of my endocrine system from my self image and sense of self worth. I know this is a common problem in IF, but it is magnified by my existing insecurity and the remnants of my childhood. I think I am causing irreparable harm to my emotional well being by trying to force my body to do something it is clearly not good at. And I have been dealing with my endocrine and reproductive system far longer than I have been trying to get pregnant. I’m sick of it.

So I think this is strike three. Part of me is keeping hope alive for another baby of our making sometime in the future. Maybe I just have more healing to do. But the larger part doesn’t want to hear about hope, it wants to move on. I want to move on. I want to stop hating myself and this useless, broken body, this murderer of my only son.

Adoption was always what I planned to do, long before the IF and baby loss crap. So why does it feel like giving up?

I do wish I could have a chance at raising another baby, I so love infants. But mainly I just want a bigger family and I will be very happy to be able to give a lost child a home.

The plan for now is to ignore my cycles, have sex when I feel like it, and take the MAPP classes starting August 2nd. If by some miracle I get pregnant* before we get a placement that will be fantastic. If not, I will be working toward something equally worthwhile and not just obsessing over my failures.

I would love to hear from anyone that is considering foster-adopt or has already started the process.

*After all this angst and hand wringing I’m going to feel awfully stupid if I get pregnant without the clomid and charting (see, hope sneaks in no matter what I do).


  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I continue to be impressed that such an amazing, insightful, strong woman came out of such a terrible upbringing. You do not need to justify why you are stopping when you are stopping, this is your choice and you need to do what is best for you. Should that change in the future, I imagine you can always open this door again, but for now, enough is enough. It takes a very strong person to know her limits.
    I sincerely hope that foster adoption works for you guys. It is such an amazing gift that you are giving to child in need.
    I know your post mentions how badly you sometimes feel about yourself and self esteem issues. I want you to know this, when I was going through diagnosing my baby and what came after, your guidance, insight, and understanding was more important to me than I have words for. I will forever be grateful to have found you and to have you holding my hand and walking me through that. You amaze me.

  2. You have gone through a lot, and I am glad that you are able to recognize the effects of your experiences on your current life, and to draw the boundaries where you need them.

    I am so sorry that you had to make such a difficult decision to stop actively trying, but I hope that foster-adoption turns out to be a complete blessing for you. I think it will. And yes, you also have a good chance of conceiving naturally (as you have done so before), without trying, so you can also retain some hope for that little pleasant surprise down the line.

    In the meantime, I hope you get some good input from fellow bloggers about the foster process-- maybe you should post your inquiry on LFCA? I am excited for you to pursue this!

    Thanks for sharing...

  3. I'm so glad that you felt comfortable enough to post this. It's good that you've reached a decision. Although difficult, it sounds like it's something you've come to terms with and are at peace with.

    I don't have anything to offer about fostering, but wanted to say that I'm here to offer my support.

  4. You have been through so much. The last three years of fighting my body to get pregnant has left me with a serious anger towards my physical being. I am emotionally exhausted. I cannot imagine how you must feel after basically fighting with your body and reproductive system to be healthy since you were a teenager. You have been through so much. And to top it off with the horrible experience and baggage of sexual abuse and the injury from the car accident. I'm sorry to be crass, but the only words that come to my mind are "holy shit". You are an amazing person.

    I herniated the disk between C6 and 7 about 5 years ago and the pain was excruciating. I can't imagine how you survived a pregnancy without medications for the pain. That is love.

    You are going to be the most wonderful foster-adopt mom. Whoever the child is that finds his/her way into your home is incredibly lucky. All of the pain, physical and emotional, that you have been through will help them deal with the trauma that they will clearly have had in their lives.

    And maybe you'll end up with both -- a new infant of your own making and a foster-adopt child who really needs the guidance and love you can give them.

    Thanks for sharing all of this. What a remarkable life you've had so far. I hope it is all peace and happiness from here on out - you truly deserve it. I know I will be thinking of you and all of this for a long, long time.

    love, inB

  5. This is an amazing post. You are a strong and inspiring woman. I am so sorry for everything you've had to go through to get where you are . . .

    I don't have any personal experience with foster/adoption processes, but I do have a few friends who have gone through it. Send me an email (you can find it on my blog) if you'd like me to put you in contact with them.

    Thinking of you as you make your way, sending hugs and good energy.


  6. i just wanted to let you know that thought i haven't commented here before, i read your posts every day on my phone when im at work and i hurt right along with you.

    im so glad that you are feeling better and so sad for everything you have been through. it's like you got ten lifetimes of problems all heaped up onto one person. i do hope that you and your husband are able to make sense of all that has happened. im so glad you have him, i hope he is as wonderful for you as you make him seem.

    i want to give you a big hug and say that i understand. i do, some of it, because i have had my fertility challenged in horrible ways, have experienced babyloss, but NOTHING like you describe. you are amazing for remaining so strong and i hope upon hope upon hope that you are brought to your next baby, either naturally or through adoption.

    i bet you are one amazing mom.


  7. you don't have to explain anything you know. but i'm glad you felt able to.

    i wish i had more time to comment, but i just wanted to let you know that it sounds like an agonising decision. i hope the foster-adopt plan works out and soon.

  8. Everyone has different circumstances and we each do what we can. I'm so sorry you have had so many crappy things happen in your life. I hope over time your self esteem and worth continue to increase. You deserve to escape the self hatred. Thinking of you.

  9. De-lurking:

    I can totally understand your reasons for heading towards foster-adopt but even if I didn't, it's what feels right to you and you shouldn't feel the need to explain yourself to others. I truly do hope that you find nothing but support in your decision and are not made to feel like there is so much left to try in the ART world. Everyone's journey is different and the only person that can truly know how you feel, or what is right for you, is YOU.

    I'm sorry you've had such a tough road to get to this point. Heartache is hard to endure but healing is even harder.

    I wish you nothing but success regardless of what path you are on.

  10. I'm so sorry for all you've been through.
    You know what you need and what is too much, which shows how strong you are. Thinking of you, and wishing you all the best for your family building path, whichever it may be.

  11. I can only echo cgd's comment above. You are an amazing woman and I'm sorry that you've had to face so many difficult experiences and tough decisions in your life. I hope that the foster-adopt route is a success (but I'm also holding out a lil sneaky hope for you myself)

  12. Jen, welcome to my world! We stopped IF treatments a couple of years back and have been looking to adopt through the foster system ever since. You can learn about our journey on my blog, or feel free to e-mail me anytime. Wishing you SO MUCH LUCK on your journey!

  13. How could I relate to this:

    "I had a bad childhood with abusive parents and lots of bad experiences. Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it is very dangerous for me to have sex if I don’t feel like it. I didn’t even like sex until I met my husband. This makes timed sex extremely difficult to accomplish, especially after my existing sex drive took a nose dive after my daughter was born. So that is strike one."

    I too, was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I think whilst I have all the "obvious" effects of such a childhood, one of the biggest impacts it has had is on my infertility journey. I failed once (didn't protect myself against my abuser) and now my body is failing again. I recognise that it is only my mind playing games, but god, it makes this journey that much harder.