This is 41

I’m a mess. Still having some left-sided cramping, although it’s eased up a bit since yesterday. No clue if it’s because of the acupuncture or if it’s resolving on it’s own, or it’s progressed into something else.

Enter bladder pain and spasms.

I’ve been starting to get these episodes of bladder pain where it feels like a UTI coming on but ends up not being an infection. I’ve been tested and it’s been negative. It usually happens at the time of my period and I was really hoping it would be resolved after my surgery. I didn’t have it during my last period, so the fact that I’m having it post-ovulation is a new one for me.

This morning was awful.

Between not sleeping well lately and nerves of needing to be up extra early for work, IBS was in high gear and worked in tandem with my bladder. I think I christened every bathroom in the house.  Every time hubs wanted to see me off for work and wish me a happy birthday, I was in a different bathroom for the second or third time each. I don’t know what this is, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s interstitial cystitis. No clue on how to be sure but it doesn’t help that my pelvic floor and pretty much everything below the navel is a mess, or the fact that it commonly affects those with endo, or perhaps it’s just a new phase to embrace on my way through perimenopause.

So this is 41, apparently.

To recap:

I’m trying to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free.

I’m taking all my vitamins and supplements daily.

I’m going to acupuncture once a week.

I’m not on some really nasty traditional Chinese medicine herbal  tea 3x a day.

I’ve now got less than a 6-month window left to TTC.

I feel like crap.

I do not run much anymore.

I’m exhausted (in so many ways).

Yep, this sounds about right. Not at all what I was expecting at this point in my life, but it is what it is.

Worst part…no cake for me today. Well, at least until the weekend, anyway.

Not without a fight

So I’m almost through my 30 day Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free experiment. I wish I could say I didn’t cheat, but I did. But I think it was a much better attempt than last time, so we’ll see what comes of this. One thing I’m noticing is how incredibly tired I am. When I first started all my supplements and this new routine, I started feeling great, but now, not so much. No clue why that is.  Are the tiny cheats really impacting me that much? Some days I just feel depressed about everything. Maybe that’s it?

I started using OPKs again while we count down our last few months and I’m back to noticing every single twinge now. I’m trying to be mindful of my body now that it’s somewhat put back together. The last thing I need is a complication to arise. And then it started. Some low back pain to the left that later started to migrate around to the front left side. No clue how to classify it as I have low back pain, like ALL the TIME. It was around day 8 of my cycle. It persisted for several days.

Does this mean the acupuncture is working? I have no idea but things have been “stirred up” in there more than last cycle. Over the weekend our new bed arrived and while it’s still too soon to assess, I think it will definitely start to help my back pains. Also, over the weekend I hung out with my mom for a bit. I was telling her about how things were going with all this diet restriction stuff and mentioned that I started acupuncture again and would soon be trying some stinky TCM tea. She was a little surprised and I told her this is the last stretch. I’m not going down without a fight. And then I realized that’s how I have to look at all this. It’s my last big push. My last fight until I have no fight left in me.

Too bad that lately I don’t feel like I have much fight left. I don’t feel well most of the time and when I try to exert myself with exercise or running, my body feels like lead. But I keep pushing through. And the low left side pain returned. It started up again on Sunday and became more noticeable yesterday, which was CD15 and it persists today. My OPK was positive on day 12, but which day did I ovulate? Did I even ovulate? Why am I experiencing ovary-type pain for eight days now?

I have no answers. I’ll be heading to acupuncture later today and we’ll see what he has to say. I have yoga tomorrow and, oh yeah, it’s my birthday tomorrow, too. Ah-ha. Maybe that’s the real reason for feeling the way I do? We’ll see.

What do I want?

I don’t know anymore. I had a really hard day yesterday and I’m not even sure why. I’ve been having more low back pain and some weird front pains that I no longer know how to begin to decipher since everything was such a mess down there before. Ovulation? Who the hell knows. I invested in some OPKs again, but not sure how well they work on an almost 41 year old. We ordered a new bed, something this almost 41 year old definitely needs. I went to my physical therapy class for the second time since returning from my surgery hiatus, only to have to say goodbye again in three weeks when I go on vacation and then start a 6-month design class for work.

I’m struggling. I’m about to embark on new things for my career, while giving up on other things that are not only needed for my healing, but that I actually enjoy – my physical therapy and my yoga. I eventually want to be well enough to run again. At least I think so. I still don’t know where to take my career or my job. I still don’t know how long I want to stay in our house/neighborhood, but then over the weekend got a serious bug to research home projects and desperately want to paint some walls. WTH? Just last night I told hubby about the new kitchen countertops we should try and budget for next spring. Again, WTH?

I’m all over the place. It’s literally minute to minute in my brain. Do we keep TTC, giving it all we got? Or do we throw our hands up, close our wallets to all these ridiculous things we are trying, and just focus on other things? I can not begin to express how much this consumes my brain and how exhausting it is. Every time I’m on the edge of moving on, I just can’t. So then I fill my thoughts with ideas of travel and career changes, and I just can’t. I think about moving but then have ideas I want to pursue with the house, and I just can’t.

I almost wish my previous surgery was a hysterectomy to put an end to all this.

I just don’t know what I want and when I think I know, I can’t.

Death by dairy

Just put that on my gravestone because I think some days I’d rather die with a belly full of cheese than to keep on like this. This restrictive diet thing is ridiculous. I’ve already pointed out how angry it makes me when so many women out there are unhealthy in so many ways and get pregnant like it’s nothing. Then there’s me who is now in the middle of trying to be:

Dairy free

Gluten free

Sugar free

It’s supposed to be for 30 days and I’m on day 14, so not even halfway through.

My breakfasts consist of:

Fruit (which is technically a sugar but oh well)

Smoothie (no whey protein because that’s dairy)

Cream of rice (which tastes like school paste)

Bacon (who knows, another oh well)

Maybe an egg (again, need to avoid dairy)

And then there was this…a beacon of light on breakfast!

Gluten-free pancakes with blueberries!  I used a butter substitute and the tiniest drop of pure maple syrup which I might have not even needed.

I would like to eat these every day, but probably won’t.

For lunches:

Salmon (in any form I can get it)


Hummus with rice crackers

Black bean chips with guac


Salads with chicken

Salads with salmon

Salads, salads, salads (getting awfully tired of them)

Dinners are usually all over the place depending on how late I get home from work or a class and what we have on hand:

More chicken (hey, whaddya know)

More salmon (dejavu)

Few potatoes

Veggies of all kinds

Burger with no bun or cheese (oh what fun)

An occasional pork chop

And then there’s snacks:

What the heck do I eat in place of cheese? My absolute go-to for snacking and just plain heaven?

Well, there’s this…

 And let me tell you, at first I thought it was pretty nasty, especially the havarti, but I had to experiment with the varieties and decided that melted is the way to go, with cheddar being the best and provolone is not bad.

No those are not corn tortilla chips. Those are nut thins rice crackers under my pretend cheese. Sigh.

So is it going well? I don’t know. It’s awfully boring and if you aren’t as well-planned out with grocery shopping and meal-planning, it can be challenging. Some days I want to shoot myself, honestly.

The toughest part has been finding a way to incorporate all three restrictions at once. I could find something that’s gluten-free but has quite a bit of sugar. I could find something dairy-free, but again, the sugar. It’s in practically EVERYTHING!

Including wine. Sort of. I’ve researched if there are any beverages I could enjoy because it is still summer and I can’t just sit there with my lemon water. Of course beer is out of the question but wine seems to still be ok as long as it’s dry, which is not a problem for me as red and drier whites are more my thing. So I’m allowing some wine so that I don’t go completely crazy.

And then, to make matters even more complicated, I started acupuncture and had my herbalist appointment today.

No COLD food or drinks.

Are you kidding me?  No more salads, salads, SALADS?!?

All this for the tiniest improvement in my cycle so we can find one good egg. And maybe reduce inflammation, if that’s even possible. And maybe help my stress and anxiety, but good luck with that!  I’m stressed just writing this!

Right back in it

I told myself I wouldn’t go there. I told my husband when he was upset, not to worry about this six-month window we were given. I tried to convince both of us that we would just live our lives and whatever happens, happens.

Except that now I’m right back in it. Again.

I ended up being the biggest hypocrite in that I couldn’t just let these six months, or “tries” go without giving it my all. Mainly it’s because of the integrative medicine group. If I was going to give the food restrictions a better go this time I decided rather than suffer through thinking about cheese and bread all the time, maybe I should up my game and try acupuncture again, too. At the very least, maybe it would help with my stress.

So I had my first session last week and as I sat there waiting to be called in, a lady sat down near me and just wanted to start chatting. Started raving about the services there and how all the practitioners are so great and how much they’ve helped her. She started rattling off the list of problems and people she saw who helped her. As she sat there patting her eyes with a tissue and telling me how the herbalist is so great but how you’ll be taking 13 pills at a time sometimes, I thought is this living? Is this really working for her?

She went on to tell me how it works but it took months and months of tweaking and figuring it out while she tried to catch her breath. Turns out she was there because all of a sudden she’s been having breathing problems and was expecting a friend who was coming into town over the weekend. Lady, I’m no doctor or specialist but it sounds to me like you have some anxiety issues. It almost felt like she was addicted to appointments and maybe even the placebo effect. Is it a placebo effect or does this stuff actually work? 

Soon after, I was called back for my session by a doctor actually from China who I had a very hard time understanding. But then again, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand any of this, so it only seemed fitting. He seemed very nice and after we chatted about my situation and the reasons I was there, he added his pitch about seeing the herbalist in conjunction with the acupuncture. And there it begins. The herbalist will probably tell me to see the reiki specialist and that specialist will tell me about the healing crystal person and so on.

Funny enough, I ran into that lady again after our sessions and with a big smile on her face she tells me, “I can breathe again!” Well, of course you can. 

So there I was, conflicted once again. Do I just give it my all these six months so that I can look back at the end of all this while popping my first birth control pill in years and say, “Yep. I’ve tried it all and nothing worked.” Do I give this herbalist a chance, while none of it will be covered under insurance? I reluctantly decided to set an appointment while setting up recurring acupuncture appointments but I’m seriously conflicted.

I don’t want to be like that lady who claims it all works but yet seems to be there all the time. And I don’t want to be dragged back into this dark world that I’ve spent the last 5 and a half years climbing out of. I don’t want to go back to the awful person I was becoming, due to all the stress and whacked out hormones and financial burden. But I also don’t want to have regrets, either. When it’s time to accept that this is done, it’s done.

And sadly, that day will come soon enough as I started period #73 today, otherwise known as 1 down, 5 to go.

Never fitting in

I took my niece up to our community pool as I promised her and as expected, it’s kid central. And that’s fine, it’s a swimming pool with a nice kiddie pool attached and I do live in kidtopia. 

I got to talking to a neighbor who is planning a trip to KY in the fall and wanted to know more about our two bourbon trips there. We were discussing B&B’s and how lovely it will be to travel in the fall, when another neighbor approaches (with baby). 

We got as far as “hello” and that’s where I was squeezed out of any further conversations. It was time for another edition of mom chat. 

“How’s your little guy sleeping for you?”

“Are you still breast feeding or did you switch to bottle?”

“How are you feeling about returning to work?”

I wanted to answer that one myself. It’s called Sunday and I feel dread every week. But I figured cracking a joke like that wouldn’t work on this audience and it would just add to the fact that I don’t understand and don’t fit in.

It got so uncomfortable being in this mom sandwich that I debated swimming away, but I didn’t. Then the questioning mom starts to ask about my niece. “So is that…”

“My borrowed child.”

I couldn’t believe I blurted that out but I was so annoyed. I can’t have a normal conversation with anyone before it turns into mom talk. Ever.

Doesn’t anyone travel? Sometimes just a weekend getaway from the kids? Does anyone talk about the weather? Our sports teams? Even politics I could handle at this point. 

Nope. All kids. All the time. That’s it. 

I don’t fit in and I won’t fit in. Please do not try to awkwardly make me fit in. I will have no advice on sleeping, teething, or formula vs breastfeeding. 

If you want to talk about travel or the weather, I’m your gal. 

And if you want to talk about running, I can do that, too. But there’s one thing I ask.

Please do not view being skinny as a consolation to infertility. I’d take your poochy stomach that you’re complaining about to me, any day. 

Ice cream sundae with a baby on top

I had my follow-up appointment with the integrative medicine doctor yesterday where I had to tell her how I failed at just about everything she wanted me to do. I told her how I had high hopes of eliminating gluten, dairy, and sugar from my diet for 30 days and would take note of how I felt when I introduced things back in. Unfortunately there’s nothing much to report when I reintroduced ice cream on day four of the experiment.

It was incredibly hard and maybe it didn’t make sense to attempt this while healing from surgery. I did tell her that it helped me realize how I snacked and the choices I would sometimes make when planning meals. I did think twice about what I consumed, read more labels, did more planning, but in the end I did not meet the challenge. I was starting to worry that my entire appointment was wasting her time.

We talked about the outcome of the surgery and how I have a clean slate and a six-month window according to my RE, before we have to regroup and decide what type of measures we’ll need to take to keep the endo from returning. Unfortunately, she’s a stickler for the dietary changes. She wants me to really give it a go, to eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from my diet, entirely for 30 days. Then she wants me to reintroduce foods one by one back into my diet and take note of how I feel. She really thinks since we’ve uncovered some sensitivities, it just might be the answer. Of course no one can predict what will work. Nothing may work, but she wants me to try this anyway. I’ll return in early October and she’ll retest some things to see if there are any improvements.

So I begrudgingly decided to follow her advice and immediately had a sudden urge to order a pizza, enjoy some wine, or stop by a bakery for a cupcake on the way home from work. When I think about it in this way, it seems ridiculous like I’d rather eat indulging foods than have a baby. I thought about this some more and it made me angry. Why is it that there are women all over the world who are unhealthy, underweight, overweight or even obese, who maybe smoke or drink or do drugs, who are all having babies? Can someone explain this to me? So if I eat a cookie, my chance of conception within that month is nil? Game over, try again and hope that I remember to avoid creamer in my coffee the next month?

It’s so maddening and makes me feel so incredibly stupid that it has to be this way for me.

Fine.  I’ll do it. I will follow her instructions and keep a journal while some other woman gets drunk and knocked up at a party. I even signed up for acupuncture again, another expense that so many other women don’t need to factor in. I went back to yoga last night for the first time since surgery and will continue going as it’s exactly what I need right now. Zen.

And before setting one foot into hell today, I allowed myself a hot fudge sundae last night. The counter is reset to zero now, so let’s do this.

Staffing changes

When I started at my job over nine years ago, the department was a mix of gender, age, and backgrounds. But one thing everyone had in common was that they had children. Everyone except me.

A year later I got married and a year after that, some of the newer members of the team were still popping out kids. I’ll never forget having to hear the “roll call” of household headcounts when they joked that one of them had 5 kids, another 4, and around the table they went with 3, 2, and me, the big fat zero. There would be the obligatory “you’re next” with all of them hoping I’d finish their descending order math comedy routine.

That never happened and over time while the team turned over, I went through four failed IVF cycles.

The next team was different. In some ways, the mix was even more diverse. Some had children and some did not, and, it was kind of nice. Then, it evolved even more and got to a point where there were no children at all. No one had to race home for a game or to the daycare. Weekend recaps consisted of stories of travel, new restaurants, or other experiences that didn’t involve little ones. Outside work-related errands were shared and not all put on me, the only one who wasn’t busy with a family.

But I knew that would soon change. It’s not rocket-science.

Our team now has three women of childbearing age, some married less than two years. I went from being the youngest or second-youngest, to being the second-oldest on the team in just a few years time.

And the first announcement has arrived.

I will say that I am happy. I truly am. It could not have happened to a nicer, more positive person. Someone always in a great mood with a positive attitude on just about everything. Someone I could learn a thing or two from when it comes to positivity. Someone who shared some of their struggles with me and I offered all the best advice I could. How could I not? I’ve pretty much tried everything to conceive.

I knew this day would come again. Now I just need to continue being strong. I don’t think we will ever have another “roll call” as those days are long gone and I am most grateful for that. It will be OK. I will be OK.

The house we should have had

My sister and I went on a historic house tour in our town this past weekend. I love old homes. I just do. I love the history, the details, the charm, all of it. There were ten houses on the tour and a totally unexpected thing happened. One of the last houses we walked through, ended up being owned by a former classmate from high school. I thought I saw her there wearing a name tag but thought maybe she was a volunteer. Then when I saw pictures of her with her family on the living room walls, I knew. I went up to her and she actually remembered me. We caught up for a few minutes, talking about how long ago we both moved to the same town and it just so happened to be right around the same time.

The home was beautiful and unique. Historic colors, a big front porch with double doors to enter the home, beautiful wood work and details. We didn’t get to see the upstairs but the yard was nice and while they shared a very large driveway with the house next door, I noticed they also had a huge garage and barn/carriage type house at the end of the drive. My first thought was how perfect that space would have been for a studio or work space or open all the doors and let it be outdoor entertaining space for parties.

And now…I’ve been thinking about this house ever since.

When my husband and I talked about moving after getting married, we knew where we wanted to move, but we weren’t exactly in agreement on the house. I wanted an old house off the town square and he wanted to build. In the end, he won. It sometimes pains me with the decision we made. Had we known the challenge we were going to face with trying to have a family, it would have been a no-brainer to me. A house like that would have suited us beautifully. There would be no worry about how many rooms to reserve for nurseries. There would be no reason to create a playroom or have a kitchen table that easily sat six without the extra leaf. We could still have friends and family over and spill out into the amazing yard with mature trees creating a canopy of privacy. And that garage/barn. Sigh. It could have been so many things for us. Many of the things I still long to do now but haven’t quite figured out how just yet because I keep spinning my wheels on TTC dreams.

It makes me wonder how different our life would have been had we looked at the old house years ago instead of building this one. It kinda kills me, actually.

2 years later

FB has a feature that shows you a blast-from-the-past photo that you’ve posted and some mornings I never quite know what I’ll be greeted with when I log on. Today…it was cheesecake.

FullSizeRenderAnd not just any random cheesecake. It was the cheesecake we decided to take home after grabbing a bite for dinner…after our fourth and final IVF attempt. I immediately relived that day for a moment when seeing this photo.

Has it really been two years?

I guess it has.

Two years ago we put our faith in our last embryos – our “dark, brown” embryos, probably an indication of my “old” eggs and maybe even our worst attempt.

And then, by the very next day, I started experiencing sciatica pain down my leg. I had no idea why and don’t remember injuring myself. Little did I know that it would be the end of one road and the start of another very long and painful one. I am so grateful that I’ve now been sciatic pain-free since April or I’d be celebrating yet another painful anniversary of sorts. 

And then, just two weeks later when we received the news that the IVF failed, we discovered my dad was seriously not well. My sister had stopped in to visit him and found that he’d been living without utilities for months, in a hoarder’s nightmare of a house. It was the beginning of yet another journey where we’d find out he had a rarer form of an early-onset type of dementia. I remember being at his house trying to clean and throw out rotten food, while cramping, profusely bleeding, and dying inside.

All these memories stirred up from a photo of some stupid cheesecake! I thought I’ll never look at cheesecake the same again.

I took a moment to sigh and be sad, but then I thought about it. I’ve come a long way in two years time. Yeah, sure, I still have my difficult moments when it comes to TTC, but for the most part, I’m not a wreck anymore. I’m not angry 100% of the time. Things have turned around tremendously at work, I’m still more or less pain-free and starting to run again, and my dad’s in good hands at the veteran’s home where he now lives.

It’s been a hell of a two-year span, but I’ve survived it. Maybe we’ll celebrate with some cheesecake…