That’s right – I know you’re reading this right now. This post is for those who come here to read stories, but haven’t submitted their own… yet.
(Before you start thinking, “this girl is nonsense, just let me read in peace,” hear me out, okay?)
When I first stumbled on to the Band Back Together site, I had massive steel walls up. Sharing anything that made me vulnerable was a HUGE no-no.
The devil on my shoulder told me that The Band was everything I didn’t deserve – supportive, honest people talking about REAL shit without fear. That stupid devil told me I had nothing to offer; no one could possibly relate to me. (Needless to say, those negative messages ran through all aspects of my life, not just about submitting a story here.)
So, I became a silent lurker.
Every single post led me to believe that I, in fact, was not alone. Life deals us all some horrendous, ugly crap.
Finally, I shoved that devil off my shoulder and decided to submit something.
The first moment I pressed submit, my heart fluttered with fear. Fear that I’d done something horribly wrong.
But you can probably figure out the rest of the story – nothing went wrong. In fact, it went truly, unbelievably RIGHT.
The Band told me I am brave, worthy of love, and not alone – three things that are incredibly hard, but important, to hear. In order to knock that devil off my shoulder for good, I needed to read those comments that were a direct response to writing I submitted.
As that devil lost his power, I had the urge to write about absolutely everything that was eating me up inside because I knew The Band would be there for me with unconditional support, hope, and virtual hugs. And, damn it feels so good to have that for the first time in my life.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and think:
–No one can relate to what I’m going through;
–My story isn’t worth reading; and/or
–I am not a good writer.
STOP. IT. RIGHT. NOW. All of those thoughts went through my mind, and let me tell you, NONE of it is true. That devil is trying to trick you, and you gotta FIGHT BACK.
You are 110% worth becoming part of The Band. It might be hard writing your first submission – in fact, it SHOULD be scary because you’re probably writing about something that you rarely talk about. But trust me: THIS is the place to do it. You owe it to yourself.
It’s estimated that between 5-10% of the female population is affected in some way by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
This is her infertility story.
I’m a lesbian. Ordinarily that isn’t super-important, but I’m at the point that I want kids, so it becomes very important.
Once people find out that I’m gay and want kids, I get asked, “So you’re planning to adopt, right?” There seems to be a socially-held expectation that being gay means you must adopt. Once, someone told me that adopting was “my social responsibility.”
However, my response is always, no, I want to carry my child. I want to experience pregnancy, with all its ups and downs. I want to feel my child grow. It’s my experience, and no one should try and take that away.
While I was never big into kids, I’ve dreamed about being pregnant since I was a teenager. I always vaguely knew it was something I had to do at some point.
Then, about two years ago, suddenly a switch flipped and it was all I could think about. I started reading about it, talking about it, doing everything I could to get near it.
And one day, my partner and I decided to start trying.
My partner and I have tried to get pregnant for a year and a half. We tried to get her pregnant because her cycle was regular. Since I cycled irregularly, and we didn’t know what it would take to get me regular enough to become pregnant, it seemed the easy choice. We started tracking her cycle, found a donor, went through a contractual process that took months, and finally started trying.
Every month we’d try, watch her symptoms, get excited, take the test… and it would be negative. Twice we got hopeful. But eighteen months and two miscarriages later, we’re back at square one.
During those eighteen months, I ran through every emotion imaginable. The worst of which was the jealousy; jealousy that I wasn’t able to carry our child. I consoled myself by saying I’d carry number two. However, by the end, we both felt defeated, deflated, and devastated. I also felt a fierce determination; a determination that I wanted this so badly, I’d do anything I needed to do.
After 18 months of failure to get pregnant, I decided to see an endocrinologist. I’ve always had a really irregular cycle, so I knew something was wrong. However, it took me a long time to be ready to face the possibilities of what that might mean.
After meeting with the endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS has major fertility implications – PCOS means that I don’t ovulate. No ovulation = no baby.
I’ve started a treatment regime including medication and weight loss, that so far has been unsuccessful in booting my system – no easy task. Next month I start an ovulation drug that will allow me to ovulate regularly.
All of a sudden, this got very, very real. My coping strategy involves researching the hell out of my options. I’ve been sensitive to my options for a while, because, by now, we’re up $2,000 in to plane tickets, doctor visits, and everything associated with a bootleg-approach to getting pregnant.
We tried working directly with our donor. We had him tested for fertility. We got ourselves prepped. It costs a lot of money. Starting our adventure with the endo and getting my cycle regulated meant we had to consider some options.
My options are to start fertility drugs.
Once I do this, I can try either a home insemination, or an Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI. This whole TTC thing gets complicated, overwhelming and expensive really quickly. My understanding is that IUI, in which a tube is placed in my uterus to flush sperm in to the area as I ovulate, is my best option.
Of course I know how baby-making works, but damn.
I hate that it has to be so clinical. I hate that there is always someone else in my bedroom. I hate that this can’t just be mine. I hate that I can’t be surprise. I hate that we will pay an $800 price tag for an 18% chance of success. It’s just not fair.
Despite all of this, I’m optimistic. Still looking forward to the future. I know it will happen, and I can’t wait until it does.
As long as there is that tiny pinprick of light, I’ll keep the sputtering flame of hope alive.
I guess it depends on what you’re counting. Thirty-six jelly beans? That’s a decent amount. Thirty-six grains of sand? Hardly anything. Thirty-six seconds? Probably already gone since you started reading this.
Time is a funny thing, you know. As I get older, I swear that it moves faster and yet each day itself feels like slogging through quicksand. I look at that number, that 36, and my mind denies it. It cannot be. It can’t be that long, can’t be that many. Thirty-six months.
Thirty-six months of hoping and then having each of those hopes shattered, one by one. How many times can a person have their hopes smashed before they themselves break? Before hope abandons them completely?
Thirty-six months of “trying to conceive.” That’s three whole years. Three quarters of ourmarried life.
In thirty-six months, not once has that damn pair of pink lines appeared. I am disappointed. I am angry. But mostly I feel despair. I feel like an idiot for getting my hopes up for two weeks every single month, only to have them dashed again and again.
My doctors remain positive. I’m still young – at least compared to many other women at the fertility clinic. I’m only thirty years old. The treatments are working, at least on paper. But not working well enough, because I’ve never conceived, not once in my life. “Close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
A few months ago, my psychiatrist asked me, “What does the future look like?”
I froze. He was asking me to peer right into a dark truth that I’d been avoiding with all my might. A dark truth that coats everything, blurs everything, muffles everything I do.
“That depends,” I managed to whisper, “on whether I ever get pregnant.”
“And if you don’t?” It was a gentle prompt, without malice or indifference.
“If I don’t… I don’t know.” That’s what I said. What I was thinking was: I can’t see that future. I don’t want to see that future, I refuse to look at it. My mind shies away from thinking about it.
I’ve heard stories about the realities of the discovery, but never really internalized them because the journey was never that personal. It was always a distant family member of a friend. The degree of severity was never actually driven home until I became a member of the club.
Now, I have multiple myeloma.
I thought long and hard for about a week about I would, and how to, share the news. My wife and I had to explain it to our teenage kids. We had to explain the realities of my upcoming chemotherapy. We had to explain that “Dad may not be his usual self” for a while. I smiled all through the discussion. After doing so, and studying the varying communities where I chat and play, it occurred to me that a cancer diagnosis is not a widely shared struggle. Most do so surrounded only by the closest of family and friends.
Honestly, that’s just not me.
In a previous life, I was a master karate instructor. I only retired back in 2012. At my prime, I used to tell my students that if I can inspire just one person to keep training and become a black belt, then I’ll feel accomplished at my work. While I left the practice to focus on my family, a lot of black belts now claim me as an early influence.
So, I took the same approach with this cancer diagnosis and started posting about it on Twitter and Facebook. If, in my journey, I can inspire just one person to fight back, then I’ll have contributed. Yes, I’m going to make this personal. Yes, I’m going to push past this and live a long life. Yes, I’m going to take you along for the ride. If you don’t want the details, don’t read my posts, unfollow me on social media; but SOMETHING I say just may light a fire under someone and convince them to not give up.
I used to say that the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was running a triathlon. Then it was taking my Master’s test in karate. Then it was maintaining a good marriage. Then it was raising two healthy kids.
Today, I realized my whole life has prepared me for the challenge of cancer. Y’all come along for the ride.
Aunt Becky challenged me to write an “I Will” post… Here’s my crack at it:
This is a year of major changes for me. The title is paraphrased from a book by one of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy, who died a few years ago. One of the lessons I’ve taken from her books is that kindness matters and change is sometimes incremental, but the opportunities to change abound.
First the Goals:
Meet Baby (due end of June)
Complete Probation (October, possibly sooner)
Complete the 12 steps (currently on Step 4, which sucks, but I am finding valuable)
Start School (Sign Language Interpreting Program)
Graduate Treatment (possibly this month?)
Move into my own apartment (hopefully by March)
Stay sober (110 days and counting)
Practice healthy boundaries – especially removing unhealthy and negative people from my life and saying “no” to things that jeopardize my values/goals/self
Re-engage with Church
Learn to manage anger without becoming self-destructive
Stay Present and Enjoy the Journey
Practice Forgiveness – especially of myself
Never Stop Learning
Make good choices (especially financial ones)
Daily Maintenance (this is a concept from NA – aka The Four Simple Things: 1. pray honesty, out loud; 2. talk to another addict, preferably one sponsor or someone else with more clean time, honestly; 3. read literature daily; and 4. do something nice for someone else).