Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Have PCOS, but that doesn't mean I'm broken.

It's been getting on my nerves lately how many women suffering from infertility refer to themselves as broken, sometimes proudly. I was tolerant at first, but today I read a facebook comment from one infertile to another that really offended me. They were discussing what words are offensive and the comment was,

"Different people have different thresholds. Some have even said that they are offended by the use of the word 'broken.' ... You can't please everyone all the time."

So now, apparently, I'm some crazy person who is easily offended by the slightest insult. What bothers me about the term broken isn't that it's insulting, it's that it is inaccurate.  Once something is broken, it no longer works. Usually, once something is broken, it's garbage.  I never doubted I would one day get pregnant. Not when I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16, not when I went off birth control pills, not when we started TTC, and not after we hit that TTC for one year mark.  I was learning more and more about my reproductive system every cycle.  It seemed to be working better and better each time, and I felt like we were getting closer.  There were times during that year I doubted if we'd be able to conceive naturally, but I never doubted that it would happen somehow. Not broken. I just work differently. Once I figured out how I worked, I got pregnant. I needed timed intercourse, metformin, weightloss, and soy. That's a very specific combination of factors, but it's now worked for me twice. So...I'm not broken.

I had a miscarriage, and I at first I thought perhaps my spirit had broken, but I never thought my body had broken. I was angry at my body for it's failure.  My grief was deep. My body had failed, but it wasn't broken, and it turned out my spirit wasn't either.  Broken would be if I could never carry another pregnancy to term, and I don't believe that's true.

Let's look at it from yet another angle. Something broken that can be repaired. Once repaired, it's permanently fixed. Once an infertile achieves pregnancy is she fixed? After my first child was born did I no longer have PCOS? A women suffering from infertility who achieves pregnancy isn't fixed, because she wasn't broken in the first place.

Would you say a computer was broken if you forgot or didn't know your password? Or would you just say, "I can't figure out the password to this stupid thing!"  Having a fertility condition is terrible, frustrating, stressful, and all sorts of other things, but it is not brokenness.  If you believe you can achieve pregnancy (and if you're TTC then at least a small part of you believes this or you wouldn't try), then it's not possible to believe you're broken. You just work differently, and will eventually figure out the combination of meds/supplements/lifestyle/diet that will get you pregnant.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Facing TTC doubts after loss

I had a moment of doubt about TTC this week. It was a long moment. Since my miscarriage in January we've been planning to TTC again in April, or sooner if possible. That's what we've been telling everyone, but it seemed like such a long time. I now realize I bled on and off from the miscarriage for 36 days!! Hard to believe you're about to TTC when you've not yet completed the loss. When I got my first period I knew I wanted to try again right away, and with my husband on board we went from 3 months away to maybe only a week til O.

Then one of my friends miscarried. She was also at 12 weeks just as I was, and I spent an entire day fb chatting with her because I so much appreciated those who had done it with me in the days following my loss.  Typing it out really helped me through it. I hope it helped her as well, but it was hard.

My crazy post-miscarriage period finally ended this week and I checked my cervix for TTC charting purposes for the first time since November. It started out uneventful, low/firm/closed, when absolute panic set in. We might be doing this all over again. I might create a child and then loose him again. I might see a lifeless ultrasound screen again. I might be doing this to my family again. Why are we doing this? Is it right?

I immediately brushed the feelings aside. I refuse to let my son grow up without a sibling, and we'd already decided to TTC this month. More time probably wouldn't change anything, so, what's an infertile to do? It wasn't that I wanted out, I just had lost my confidence and I didn't see another way.

As fate would have it, another friend gave birth this morning at 41weeks to a baby girl. "We're in love," said the caption to a beautiful pic of the baby's face while breastfeeding. I want that. She posted another pic of her in the hospital bed holding the baby, her husband at her side, her toddler on the bed at her feet. I really, really want that. I was a little sad at what I'd lost, but I was mostly newly motivated.

It's worth it. It's totally worth it. Would I have gone through this to get my son? Of course. What wouldn't I go through to get him? The reward is worth the risk. I feel confident about trying again. I even picked the soonest possible O date and calculated what my due date would be. You wouldn't believe it, but thanksgiving day came up. What are the chances? I know I probably won't ovulate that early, but it's just a lesson that everything I've gone through is worth everything I've got. There's no reason to stop now, or take a break. I want to keep going. I have no more doubts. It's worth it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Neither trying nor preventing. Also known as TTC Denial

I once read that in most GYN's patient checkup admission forms, they have a box to check if you're TTC, and that if a patient checks that box, the GYN follows a protocal of reccommending prenatal vitamins, general health practices, etc.  A study was done to see what percentage of women were "neither trying nor preventing" pregnancy as opposed to TTC, and it was discovered over 30% of women of childbearing age were in that neither trying nor preventing category. It turns out, only a small percentage of women ever get to check the TTC box, most women "just let nature take it's coarse" (eyeroll) and see what happens. The study suggested that GYN's apply those TTC protocals to all women of childbearing age since they were missing a large portion of women before they became pregnant. Having a child is scary, getting pregnant is the first step, and it turns out most people don't draw themselves a roadmap to parenthood. They just close their eyes and jump.

"Neither trying nor preventing" is a regular fertile persons version of trying to conceive.  It's TTC denial. TTC without putting pressure on yourself, without timing anything, and without consulting any charts.  It's waiting until you're late to take a pregnancy test, enjoying evening glasses of wine and faraway vacations, but not without that nagging question in the back of your mind. Could I be pregnant? Is this the month our lives will change?

I guess that's where we are now, not two months after our loss.  This month we claim to be neither trying nor preventing, but I think we're in TTC denial. Dh still wants to know when O happens. I'm still shopping digital OPK's. We're really not doing anything different than when we normally TTC, except it's just too hard to admit it to ourselves. When will we TTC again? Probably not until April. For now, we're holding hands at the top of the cliff with our eyes closed. We're neither trying nor preventing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DS was kicked out of preschool for food allergies

Yep, title says it all. This week my son was kicked out of preschool because he has food allergies. I never intended for this to be a food allergy blog, but I really need to sort out my feelings and write out a timeline of events in order to pursue this further. Plus, I made some mistakes along the way, and it might be helpful for others to read my story and make different decisions.

Part of the problem is that dealing with my son's food allergies is second nature to us. He's allergic to milk, eggs, peas, peanuts, and pet dander. He can eat milk and eggs if it's baked in breads or cake because the high temperature kills the specific protein he's allergic to. He can also eat foods cooked in highly processed peanut oil for the same reason. We do have to avoid milk chocolate or anything with chocolate flavoring, cheeses or cheesey snacks like cheese crackers or goldfish, and butter. It's a big deal at first, but after a while you get really used to it.

Another reason I'm so casual about his allergies is that his reactions are easy to fix. They're scary, and I get scared every time he has one. He gets angry, thick, hives all over his face and neck, and then facial swelling in the cheeks and lips. But he gets benedryl, and is better in about 10 minutes. No big deal.

When visiting the preschool on Jan 27th, I asked if food allergies were a problem, and they said not at all. A staff member even mentioned they'd had a peanut allergic child before. I told them very, very briefly about ds's allergies, (even less than in the above paragraph) and they acted shocked that he had 'so many' allergies. This was the first red flag that I missed. Instead of reassuring them that his allergies really weren't a problem, I should have asked more about their policies and procedures.

On 2/3 I stopped by to register ds for their preschool. I gave information about ds's allergies in writing, and reviewed a list of foods they give for snack. I crossed off all the things he couldn't have. It was very few things! The list was maybe 30 items and I don't think I crossed off 10 items. I then asked the procedure for them keeping his emergency medications. He keeps 1 epipen and a bottle of benedryl with him at all times. THIS is when I find out they do not keep medications for the children at the school, and they refused to make an exception in this case. I knew this was illegal, but I didn't think being accusatory was going to help my case. I liked the school, and I wanted them to like me and ds as well. I only live 3minutes away from the school. I told them it worried me, but I'd just stay at home and if he had a reaction they could call me and I'd be right there. I told them he should really get the benedryl within 20minutes of a reaction. I'm not sure what would happen if he went longer than that.

My husband, being the only rational human being left at this point, was not a fan of this plan. Being a man, his solution was to just sneak the meds in ds's backpack on his first day of school on 2/5. And that's what he did. Yep, my husband just put them in his backpack and hoped for the best. OY!!! I work 3rd shift on sunday nights so I was asleep for this med sneaking. That afternoon, I called the school and said I really thought we should research this further. The director of the school said there was nothing to research. They were not licensed to dispense medications, and therefore couldn't hold meds. I tried to make a joke of what my husband did, and laugh about how that obviously wasn't my opinion of a solution. She didn't laugh with me. I mentioned the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that my interpretation of the law (take from the department of justice ADA FAQ page) was that schools were required to carry emergency medications for a food allergic child. The director said she would consult with her licensing person and get back to me.

We also talked about what a great day DS had at school. She told me about how much he talked with them about everything even though he can't talk yet. She said what books he liked and how much the other children enjoyed having him around. This part of the conversation made the next day so much worse.

The next day, 2/7, I went to drop DS off for his second day and he eagerly ran inside. He was so excited to be there and it was clear how much he loved it. The director sat me down and said they'd had such a hard time yesterday keeping him safe. She said they'd even had to wipe off the tables and make sure all the kids washed their hands. She thought he'd avoided a reaction by the grace of god alone. She said since they can't keep his meds, it wasn't a safe place for him there. I'm finally clueing into where she's going with this and start totally bawling in the middle of all the kids and other parents. I felt so bad for ds that he couldn't go to such a wonderful place for such a stupid reason. Through my tears in a squeaky crying voice I said, "this really upsets me, because you're refusing to take him." She responded, "we're not refusing him. Please bring him back when he gets better." I cried even more. DS is not ill. He is happily and healthily living with food allergies. He was being discriminated against. I tear up now just writing about it. He screamed with anger the whole way home.

I went home and told my husband. DH said he was fine with ds not going to school, and thought I probably could have made it work if I hadn't told the director about him sneaking in the meds or made such a big deal about the meds not being there. I could have not called her about it. This is all true, but, really, I should have explained about ds's allergies and asked about their procedures when first investigating the school. I'm going to report them to the department of justice, but it seems doubtful anything will come of it. Yes, what they did was illegal, but unless I hired a lawyer and sued them, there's really no consequences for their actions.

I've decided to use this as an oppurtunity to get better about teaching ds myself. I'm actually too patient with him, and I'm also very inconsistant. One day I'll point out colors of everything, and then go without mentioning them for several days. Despite all this, he somehow has learned his numbers and loves it. I know he'd learn a lot more even if I just dedicated ten minutes out of every day to letters and colors, but it still doesn't happen. I've decided to research different projects we can do that teach those things. I may actually do better if it's a big formal activity rather than a ten minute errand, and as he improves I hope it will motivate me to do better.

This school was the only one who would take him at 22months, but he'll be old enough to start the school year at a different school in sept. I'm going to register him on monday, but THIS TIME I know what to ask to make sure it's a good fit. (Or so I think.) If they also refuse him I'm not going to be as disappointed as I was the last time. I've since found lots of ways to enrich our lives. We were already doing playgroups and library programs. I've also joined a gym and he loves their childcare center. It makes me workout everyday because I know how much he needs and enjoys that setting. We're going to make this work. I've always thought the most successful moms were those who could adapt and roll with the punches. I hope I look back on this in the future and appreciate the oppurtunity to improve myself as a teacher and a mother.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The ways January 2012 tried to kill my family.

While January didn't kill my baby, it took glee in letting me know he or she was gone. New Years day. 9am. January didn't waste any time. It had a lot to put me through and no sense doing any of that ridiculous foreboding or dropping breadcrumbs, that was up to December. It was January's time to grab a baseball bat and get down to business.

While January absolutely would kick me while I was down, there was no sense doing it right away. I was so deep in mourning I wouldn't have noticed. What's the fun in torturing me if I'm nearly unconscious with grief.  New Years day was a Sunday.  I did get my first chest cold in over a decade on Tuesday, and my bank account overdrew on Thursday.  On Friday I went in to pour my heart out to the bank teller to get my fees reversed, to find out I'd scared the crap out of the 11 weeks pregnant bank teller. The first few things may have been predictable, but that last one was a nice touch. What were the chances that would happen? January was sneaky, mischievous, and creative.

At that point, I still didn't know my enemy. I thought this singular, terrible thing had happened, and I was just living out the many consequences. Being completely ignored by my normally close and supportive extended family, the looks of pity from my friends and coworkers, and the sighs of boredom from those who came to listen but grew tired of slogging through my complex feelings, I thought all these were natural things everyone had to go through.

January 16th, about halfway through, my son has his followup allergist appointment. January lets me think it went really well, but it was just a setup for another slam.  I'd been so concerned about having my young toddler on a high dose of daily zyrtec for seasonal and food allergy prevention, and was really pleased that we were going to move to using it as needed instead of daily. Ds is off it all week until Saturday night. He's going to his sitters on Sunday who has dogs. All week leading up to sunday he's just getting more and more cranky. On Friday I'd already decided to take him to the pediatricians. Of course it was in the back of my mind that he needed to be on the zyrtec, but I knew we could be dealing with ear infection, cold, etc. And I was also hoping maybe it was some sort of withdrawal that he could pull through. But it's the weekend (how is NOT the calenders fault that it's the weekend? And people think I'm crazy. sheesh) and we have to wait until Monday.

By Monday, we go from 'enh, maybe we should get the pedi's opinion' to 'this kid needs a doctor!' He was wheezing heavy, remaining winded, and just having all sorts of breathing difficulty. Oh January, I know now you were zeroing in on your next target. That day he gets put on daily singular. The plan is to have this medication instead of zyrtec. On Tuesday we're back at the pediatricians. The breathing isn't better at all, and it's clear much more aggressive action needs to be taken. I leave with prescriptions for a nebulizer that we can't afford to get, an inhaler with toddler torture chamber attachment, and prednizone. HA! Have you ever had a kid on prednizone? Have you? Was he almost 2? One day we had a 3hr long tantrum. 3 hours of kicking and screaming! Did I mention that was the week we were visiting preschools? DH was still working, and I was still recovering from my miscarriage and chest cold.

Simultaneously, our carbon monoxide detector is going off. It started going off repeatedly over the weekend, but we couldn't afford to call the emergency number and be evacuated. We knew it was most likely related to the construction work we had done in early December. For reasons unknown to me (but known to January, I'm sure) my husband didn't call the contractor on Monday. I didn't either. After I woke in the early afternoon from working 3rd shift the previous night, I rushed my suffocating son to the doctors office and then was overwhelmed with info and forgot. I called first thing on Tuesday. They got back to me Tuesday night, and set up to come out first thing Wednesday morning. So, yes, we knew we had a carbon monoxide leak on a weekend, and didn't do anything about it until Wednesday. Shrug, I was so beaten down by life at this point I don't think I cared. I was actually kind of relieved. I had figured out it was January who was trying to kills us, and I was happy it was at least moving on to global killers. At least we would all go together. (apparently, a sub-contractor didn't realize we had two furnaces and blocked off the venting for our downstairs furnace. They will fix at no charge. No heat for 4 days, but it's a reasonably warm winter.)

On the 29th, my husband choked on a piece of lettuce. Not choking where you get scared for a second and then cough uncontrollably as you struggle to tell people you're fine kind of choking, but gagging, wretching, extended choking followed by profuse vomiting as two chunks were stuck in the back of his throat. Can I say that I was relieved afterwards? I'd realized he was the only one January had not yet directly assaulted, and I'd spent the last few days imagining car accidents and listening to police sirens.  He'd experienced his attack and survived. Phew.

At this point I was just trying to get through my days. I randomly started crying at any moment, and I totally get it now when people give up and do the whole murder suicide thing. I'm too stubborn for that, but I get it. You reach this new level of universal understanding.  You see your place in the universe and it brings about this indescribable hopeless feeling.

But, HA!, I can't say that I won or even that we all survived it, but it's over.  February has been SO great. DS is totally better. I joined a gym with free childcare and ds and I both love going there. Ds is going to start a preschool Monday. We're moving on and discovering our new normal. Supposedly I'm finishing up my first period and we'll see if I begin ovulating normally again. We're looking towards the future.