6

My Experience with PPD

Because I was diagnosed with depression in 2007 and on antidepressants since then, I was acutely aware of my increased risk for postpartum depression (PPD). I wanted to be proactive and on the lookout for symptoms following L’s birth so that I could treat it quickly and save L (and myself) from the adverse effects. However, when L was born, I found I reacted differently. I was very easily moved to tears, both happy and sad, following the delivery. I chalked this up to baby blues and all the nurses were telling me it was normal. I found myself worried that J would think I was emotionally unstable and that he would feel differently about me, so I tried to reassure him (and myself) that it was normal. And maybe it was at that point. Maybe it would have remained “just” the baby blues if I hadn’t had problems with nursing, postpartum preeclampsia, and the doctors and nurses hadn’t expressed concern about L’s weight gain. However, those were my experiences postpartum and I found myself consumed by worry and the need to scour the internet for answers. As we all know, Google can give you every answer (i.e., conflicting ones) and no answers. By the time I was ready to admit to myself and a doctor that I needed help, I was having difficulty sleeping and eating and I couldn’t enjoy my time with L the way I desperately wanted to because anxiety wasn’t leaving room for much joy.

Even though I had been through the process of getting help for depression before and I was already on antidepressants, I found myself resistant to increasing my dosage or admitting that there was reason for concern. I think I felt guilt (a symptom of depression) at the idea of admitting a key symptom of PPD, that I sometimes felt disconnected from my daughter. I felt like that made me a bad mom and I was scared of others thinking that of me although I was already feeling that way myself (yet another symptom of PPD). There were definitely days and moments within days where I was enamored by my daughter, and I always knew I loved her, but sometimes I felt distant and like maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mom, that I wasn’t the mother she deserved or that I had always envisioned myself being. Even now that I am feeling much better, it’s hard to write this and I worry that others will judge me for ever having moments of doubt.

Luckily, I did admit that I had concerns and the doctors were in agreement that I needed a higher dosage of my medication. Reassurance that L is doing well and I am doing right by her was also something I needed. I’ve been able to be more in tune with her cues the last few days and I have come to realize that she needs more naps (by any means necessary, i.e., the swing most of the time) even though she fights them. Making sure she gets them has made things better for both of us. I have also been able to let go of the worry about her eating/weight, possible reflux, and possible allergy. I now highly doubt she has a cow’s milk protein allergy, at least not a severe one. Her reflux may be responding well to medication or it is possible that she is more of a “happy spitter” than she is experiencing pain from the reflux. She rarely fusses during or after bottles now, eats more than she used to, is gaining weight at a slow but steady pace, sleeps pretty well during the night (down between 10:30 and 11, up once sometime between 2 and 4, and up at 7), and she is thriving developmentally (good head control, rolled from tummy to back 4 times now, bears weight on her legs already, coos up a storm, lots of smiles, very alert and seems more and more aware of and interested in her environment by the day). Now, I am able to really focus on just how amazing my daughter is and how head over heels in love with her I am.

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11

Aftermath

I wanted to write this post awhile ago, but work was crazy busy leading up to the holidays, and then I was busy with Christmas preparations and celebrations, and then my parents visited for a week. Also, I was too emotionally drained and stunned to write for awhile. Warning, there are a lot of thoughts going through my head to catch up on, so this is going to be a long one.

After getting my diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR), I broke down sobbing at least once a day for several days, maybe even a week. Several words popped into my head to describe how I was feeling: devastated, grief-stricken, demoralized, marginalized, hopeless, crushed, guilty, barren. I felt a lot of guilt because if J had married someone else, he could likely have children with no hassle or financial strain.  His parents would have another biological grandchild. I feel horrible that we are in this situation because of me. I feel like I am potentially robbing J of the chance to be a biological father. J, however, was nothing but supportive. He told me not to be “silly” and that he would marry me all over again even if he knew this was the future. He said I didn’t sign up for diabetes either, but to me it’s not the same. He can manage his diabetes and continue to live a full life. It causes some changes to my life, but not overly so. My DOR is life changing for both of us and there may not be a way around it.

The part I am most upset about is the thought of never getting to experience pregnancy (e.g., seeing my belly grow, shopping for maternity clothes, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing him or her on the ultrasound, wondering what the sex would be, feeling the baby move and kick, talking to my belly and knowing there really is a baby in there), labor and delivery (I know it would be painful, but I don’t want to be robbed of the experience), and, most importantly, the feeling of holding my baby for the first time that people try to describe but can’t because it needs to be experienced. That instant feeling of the most intense love possible.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that being pregnant and delivering our baby is more important to me than my genetic connection to the baby. So I started thinking about and looking into donor eggs. Apparently women with DOR have great success with donor eggs because the issue isn’t about our capability to carry a child. Even though there are many benefits to living in Canada, easy access to egg donation is not one of them. Since 1994, it has been illegal to buy eggs. Therefore, it looks like most people seeking donor eggs buy eggs from the US (or even travel to the US to do their IVF) or another country. That would definitely rack the price up even more and there are probably a ton of hoops to jump through. There is, of course, the option of having someone donate eggs to you directly, but I could never ask someone I know for that. First off, that person would have to take injectable hormones, which is not fun for both the needle and side effect factors (and I have friends who keep their bodies very pure, so I am sure they’d be out of the question). Second, the donor would be giving up one of her eggs which means that a) if all went well, she’d have a genetic child out there (not just out there, but raised by a friend – this might be easier for some and harder for others) that she would not raise and b) what if the donor decided to have more kids but then she was short on eggs at that point. So while I would gladly accept an egg donation, I could never ask anyone for it.

As time went on, I started feeling less despair and more hope. I once again was in a place where I could start looking forward to the future and a game plan. At that point, adoption felt more viable again. Yes, I want to experience pregnancy, but really it’s being a mother and seeing J as a father that matter most. And I know we would love a child who comes to us by adoption and we would make sure any child of ours knows how loved they are. I know it would be different, for us and the child, but I know our love would be as strong for a biological or adopted child. J and I had a really good talk over dinner one night about adoption. He’s totally on board with it and is open to exploring both domestic and international options.  I asked him what his family would think if we had a child of another race (although my major concern would be the effect of transracial adoption on our child(ren)). His family are good people, but they aren’t the most educated or politically correct (a bit hick/redneck in their speech, even though there’s no malice behind it). J’s instant response was that he didn’t care. Basically, he let me know that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, we’re having a child one way or another and we will love and accept our child no matter what color he or she is. At the same time, he said he was sure his family would love and accept our child, as they were none too thrilled about his brother’s girlfriend getting pregnant and now they are so completely in love with our niece (and they aren’t too happy about the second baby due in March, but I know they’ll love him just the same).

To backtrack a bit, a day or two after we heard the news, I was looking through my internet history, trying to find a site I had been on and accidentally closed. I noticed that a few of my blog entries, including old ones, had been opened the day before. I asked J about it and he told me that he wasn’t trying to snoop, but he had read some of my blog (including my post about the diagnosis). J never showed interest in reading my blog before and I wasn’t exactly hiding it from him, so instead of feeling like he was snooping, I felt touched that he had read some of it. I asked what he thought and he told me that he cried. He hadn’t shown me the depths of his emotions in regards to the diagnosis and our struggle, but knowing that he wanted to know more about what I was thinking and feeling and that he let himself release his emotions while reading my blog meant a lot to me.

The more I talk about an emotional situation, the more it helps me  process through it. I appreciate questions from friends (e.g., just checking in on how I’m doing, asking about my RE appointments, asking questions about the IVF process, asking about what exactly DOR means, etc.). The more I talk about it the more I can take a practical, proactive approach to it rather than letting all my fears and grief absolutely consume me. For the most part, my friends have been super supportive. One friend called me after I told her the news and I could feel the love and compassion in her voice. I know that my heart was broken for her due to something that occurred in her life and I know that she loves me enough to feel the same for me in this situation. Another friend replied to the email I sent her and, again, I could feel the love and empathy coming through. The words of my friends made me choke up because it meant so much to have friends who care about me enough to feel a bit of my pain on my behalf and to want to be able to heal it, even though they can’t. At the same time, I have felt a bit let down by some friends. One friend never even wrote me back and another seems at a loss for what to say (I sense awkwardness in her messages to me). Another friend tries to be supportive, but as she’s pregnant (and rightfully wrapped up in that), it’s hard for me to feel truly supported by her (e.g., I’ll say something about how I’m feeling and she’ll follow it up with how she felt the baby kick).

In talking to my mom about DOR, she said she thinks it probably runs in her family. She wanted 4 kids, but only had me (pregnant at 32, gave birth at 33). My maternal grandmother had a stillborn daughter and then my mother. My maternal grandmother’s mother only had 2 children back in the day of no birth control and large families. I always thought I had to have all my kids by 32/33 because of my mom, but I never thought I’d be faced with this reality at 29.

Some other random bits and pieces: my acupuncturist “dropped” me. She said that she couldn’t really do anything for me right now and that it would be good for me to take a break. She said she could help with the side effects of the injectables and before and after egg transfer. I felt like it was one more nail in my coffin, like I must be so bad that she no longer sees the point in trying to help. I still like her and I will go back during IVF because the research really supports that it helps with IVF, but in that moment I felt abandoned. The night of our diagnosis or maybe the one after, J and I had sex – really loud sex. It wasn’t about trying to conceive, it was just about needing my husband. I needed to reaffirm life and to be physically close to him. In the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about how I need to get my life back in other ways too. I have become more materialistic and so self-absorbed. Everything came back to TTC and I was trying to fill the void I felt with material things. I want to start scrapbooking, thinking about other things, asking my friends more about themselves (and so on) again.

Each day gets a bit easier and at this point I’m counting down to my RE appointment on Jan. 15 and getting things in motion. But I still have my moments. I found it hard when a coworker (who saw me bawling right after I got my diagnosis) talked about me having kids like it was a given (it just reminded me that I may not be able to do what so many take for granted as a given). I found myself getting weepy after some drinks on Christmas night (worst Christmas present was my period, which started on Christmas day!). I ended up bawling after the New Year’s countdown. I am happy to see 2012 go and I hope that 2013 is our year, but the idea that all of 2012 passed with so much hope and disappointment and that I’m starting 2013 as an uphill battle was just too much in that moment. I am sure there will be many more moments where I break down and think of how unfair this is, but right now I am trying to hope and look forward.

8

Welcome ICLW

This is my first time signing up for International Comment Leaving Week. I am sure that I’ll discover some amazing blogs and I hope that I’ll gain a few new followers.

This week has been a tough one for me. I felt like I was in a really negative space and jealousy was oozing out of my pores. I do have depression, so sometimes I just get in funks for no good reason at all. I think my negative mood can be attributed partially to that. I also think that my depression and the tendency to ruminate, which is inherent in depression, were exacerbating my frustrating with TTC. I found myself to be extremely irritable this week. J was getting on my nerves and I was on edge with every comment of his. Poor guy was probably walking on eggshells because I’m sure I wasn’t doing as good a job at hiding my irritation as I thought I was. I was also feeling very irritated with my boss and I even felt angry at her for slights against my coworkers. A lot of my irritations at work had to do with the principal of the matter and I was probably getting pissed off for the sake of being pissed off, at times. I found myself jealous over my friends’ happiness. In reality I don’t begrudge them anything, but I had already dug myself into such a negative hole that their milestones (first birthdays, facebook announcements, ultrasounds) felt like heavy reminders of what I’m missing.

Today, I had acupuncture. The acupuncturist asked me how I was feeling and I mentioned that I had 2WW symptoms even though it’s my follicular phase. In particular, my breasts were sore. The acupuncturist found this interesting and asked me if I had been irritable. With that simple question and the fact that she seemed to be offering a sympathetic, experienced ear, the flood gates opened. I tried to keep my voice from quivering and I thought she likely didn’t notice the tears starting to flow from the corners of my eyes, but then she handed me a tissue and said that’s why they keep some in the room. I didn’t let myself cry long because I wanted to try my best to be in the moment during the acupuncture (I’m not so good at staying in the moment, so effort is required). It felt good though, to let some of it out, and now I feel ready to move on and let go. I’m sure there will be more of these “funks” if I don’t conceive soon, but for now I’m going to try to get back in to positive, hopeful mode.

1

Doubts

I look up all this information online and sometimes it comforts me and sometimes it scares me. Yesterday I read a forum post about endometriosis and it seemed like everyone had been trying for years, tried multiple treatments, and still weren’t pregnant. Although I know someone who got pregnant 2 months after having her endometriosis treated, I got scared that these other stories were more of the norm. The reason this scares me so much is because I have reason to believe that I have endometriosis. I ended up feeling really blah last night and even crying a little bit when it was time to go to sleep. I am so hopeful for our upcoming RE appointment and I am expecting our experience with the fertility clinic to shed light on our issues and solve them. But what if it still takes years?! I don’t know if I can handle that. I know that I can never stop trying to have a child in one way or another, but the pain, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and crushed hope that I have experienced in the past year have been so hard to deal with already. I’m sure that the longer our struggle to have a child continues, the harder these feelings will be to take.

12

And the winners are . . .

AF and BFN! Fuck.

I had hope this month and hope turned into the belief that I was pregnant. I really believed that my period would be late, and it was. And then I believed that I would see a positive pregnancy test, and I didn’t. I even held my hand on my belly and talked to my little nugget (aka figment of my imagination) throughout the latter days of my cycle, telling it to hold on.

Here are the symptoms I had this month that are pretty common for me:

  • Cramps (nothing major, but noticeable throughout my cycle)
  • Headaches (I have noticed these during the 2WW since I stopped birth control)
  • Nausea so mild that I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it (it could also be from post-nasal drip)
  • Heartburn
  • Sore shoulders, neck, and back (but they seemed worse this month, I swear)
  • Fatigue (story of my life)
  • Twinges over where I think my ovaries are (they kind of alternated sides though)
  • Sensitive nipples during 2WW
  • Cried easily (pretty typical)
  • Gas (I fart and burp a lot in my opinion)
  • Bloating

Here are some extras that had me thinking that cycle 9 was the cycle:

  • Fluttery-type contractions in my stomach around day 10 and day 18 – my acupuncturist thought I might be ovulating when I saw her on CD15 (earlier than normal, which was the 1st goal) – a positive OPK on CD20 suggests otherwise
  • Boobs were sorer than usual
  • Boobs seemed a bit bigger/fuller too
  • It seemed like my aerolas got bigger and maybe darker
  • My tuna tasted funny one lunch and then I noticed a metallic taste throughout the day and several other days
  • My gums seemed more sensitive
  • Tugging feeling in my belly
  • Weird dream
  • Dry mouth/extra thirsty
  • Sudden warming sensation up the inside of my left calf a few times
  • Cold symptoms (e.g., sore throat, runny nose, post-nasal drip) – but I do have alergies and my coworker (who I share an office with) had a bad cold
  • Peeing more often (see thirst comment, could explain it)
  • Extra cm on CD 31
  • A penny-sized spot of pink on the toilet paper on CD24 (this was the big one for me – I assumed/hoped it was implantation bleeding)

I told the acupuncturist about some of the symptoms and the “implantation bleeding” (I have never spotted other than a bit at the start of my period or for the last couple days at the end of my period, but never mid cycle) and she seemed really hopeful. She even said she wouldn’t mix up the herbs I am supposed to take during my period because she didn’t know that I would need them and she thought it might be a bad idea to mix them up. I think she thought I was pregnant too. I didn’t tell anyone else because I didn’t want to jinx it.

On CD27 I took a pregnancy test. Actually I took two. I bought a bunch of cheap ones from http://www.early-pregnancy-tests.com – the ones I got are supposed to be super sensitive (10 miu/ml HCG sensitivity). I also had a free 20 miu/ml HCG sensitivity one from when I ordered preseed from the same company. I had read on their site that the 20 miu ones have better customer feedback than the 10 miu ones. So even though the 10 miu are supposedly more sensitive, they may be less accurate. However, looking into it even further, it seems that enough people found inaccuracies with both types of test strips. Several people stated that the tests are only good for confirming a pregnancy, as they didn’t get a positive with them until they had already had a positive test result using a different brand. Not everyone had that experience, but it was enough to make me doubt the two BFNs that stared back at me. It also could have been too early to test.

I was positively gleeful on CD 32 when I was officially late. I have consistently had a 28-30 day cycle for the last 8 cycles. When I first stopped BCP I had a 35 day cycle. The next was a 33 day cycle, followed by a 29 day cycle and a 31 day cycle. So I haven’t had a 31 day cycle in 8 months and I figured that a 31 day cycle at this point was a very good sign. So on the morning of CD32, I took a First Response Early Results test. This test is supposed to be top on the market. I got a BFN. I was discouraged, but I still held out some hope. After all, my friend Andree had a negative blood test at 4 weeks pregnant and she didn’t know she was pregnant until another blood test was run at 6 weeks. I also read about many other people who didn’t know until 5, 6, 8, 11, or 13 weeks. I even read about people who were getting negative urine and blood tests when they were 6 months pregnant and very clearly with child. All of these scenarios are reportedly statistically rare, but if you get a big enough sample size even 4% (urine tests are found to be 96% accurate in clinical studies, when used properly) is a sizeable group to pin your hope on.

Yesterday was weird. (TMI warning: read no further if you can’t stand discussions of cervical mucus). I went to the bathroom at one point and had cause to push. I noticed some reddish-brown discharge in the toilet (not poop). Later, I went again and when I wiped there was a kind of creamy/slightly yellow, slightly stretchy, snot-like discharge. Then later, there was blood-tinged ewcm, followed by another wipe that produced clear ewcm, followed by another wipe that produced nothing. I was of course consulting Dr. Google and found some info supporting these kinds of discharge in early pregnancy and some info suggesting it meant AF was coming. Well, at about 9 pm, that damn witch came. I wiped and saw blood. Unmistakable, bright red blood. But it was just one wipe. J and I watched a couple episodes of Breaking Bad up in bed and when I went to the bathroom again, there was more blood. I couldn’t deny it anymore.

I ended up crying and J did the best thing he could. He hugged me, rubbed my back, kissed my shoulder, and told me he was sorry. Then I sucked up some strength, for both of our sakes, and said, “We’ll get there.” He replied, “Yes, we will.”

0

One is the Loneliest Number

So it’s official. Every single person that I personally know who has been TTC since J and I began is pregnant. One of the teachers where I work announced this morning that she is pregnant. While I am happy for everyone who gets their BFP, instead of feeling happy for her, I felt sad for myself. I barely know her so I don’t feel a personal connection to her. Just the other day I was thinking about how she’s still trying too (to my knowledge) and how at least I wasn’t alone (obviously I’m not since I’ve “met” so many wonderful ladies through forums and blogs). I know that is a very selfish thought, but it’s honest. Now in my immediate environment, it’s just me. There’s no way around it, it’s not fair and it sucks.

0

Too Much

For some reason, I find that I am most emotional as my period is ending. It’s weird considering it’s called “premenstrual syndrome”, but it seems to be the way it works for me.

On Friday night, which happened to be the last day of my period, I went to a party for a friend and her husband. The party was multipurpose: both of their birthdays were within a week of each other, she had just gotten her PhD, and they are due to have their first child in 2 weeks. I have mentioned this friend before and I am very happy for her, but in the state of mind I was in, the fact that everyone was talking about pregnancy and children was too much for me. One group of people were talking about how a coworker had expected it to take 3-4 months to get pregnant, so when it happened right away it wasn’t according to plan/on schedule. I politely said, “It’s better than the reverse.” I wasn’t really feeling up to partying, so I made an appearance and stuck around for a bit, but then quickly made my exit.

When I got home, I poured myself some Yellowtail Shiraz (my fave red wine) and watched some video on demand (Think Like a Man and then Five Year Engagement). J was out for the evening . I was feeling sorry for myself and in the need of a good cry. The wine seemed to help that along and I was able to have a little pity party on my own. At one point my sadness gave way to anger. I started thinking about how it just isn’t right because I would be a good mother, a damn good mother. Fuck I hate infertility and fuck the depression that it often brings along with it.