Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I am an outlier.  The average age for onset of perimenopausal symptoms is 45 (citation).  I'm a full decade ahead of schedule.

I could make a joke that this is the first time I've ever been early for anything in my life.  I've been known to handle difficult things with sarcasm and mildly inappropriate humor, but right now I don't feel like joking. 

For the most part I've accepted that my cycles are probably going to lack predictability for whatever remaining time that I have one.  I've learned what my triggers for hot flashes are and strategies that are mostly effective for dealing with them.  I understand that I'm probably not going to be able to wear heavy sweaters anytime in the near future and that I probably won't need to wear a winter coat again this coming winter.  With as much as I hate it and miss it, I know that cuddling with my husband isn't going to be as frequent, because the added body heat always triggers a hot flash, and cuddling with a hot, sweaty mess isn't any fun for anybody.

I'm convinced that the progesterone in the IUD has helped with some of the symptoms.  While I'm not one of the lucky majority who stops having a period after they get an IUD, my periods are much more manageable and I haven't had a scary one in the almost 18 months that I've had it.  I think that it's also helped with itchiness and skin dryness.  For these reasons, it's worth keeping, even though there's not a whole lot else that I like about it.

I've always had PMS related mood swings, and these have intensified with perimenopause.  For the most part I can keep these in check.  But sometimes not so much. 

I'm struggling with the fact that many in my peer group are still popping out babies, seemingly with ease, and I'm over here just hoping that I start my period soon.  It feels like some kind of cruel joke.

I'm also having a hard time with what this all means for bedroom activities.  The truth is that I don't really feel like having sex most of the time, and even when I do, my body is uncooperative.  It makes me feel incredibly broken and unlovable.  (I feel like I should mention here that hubs has been a saint and even though he's just as frustrated as I am, he's also been incredibly understanding.)

Based on the reading I've been doing, it seems that none of this is atypical for perimenopause.

I can't help but feel like I am too young for this though.  And I can't help but feeling like no one (meaning medical professionals) takes me seriously when I talk about this stuff.

Right now I'm in the midst of a particularly brutal (and long) cycle.  My mood swings are out of control.  I don't want to be around me right now, and others shouldn't have to endure me either.  Really, until I start my period, the most suitable place for me is probably an isolated cabin in the woods where I am not required to interact with my fellow humans.  I literally feel like I'm teetering on the edge of going crazy.  I don't even know how I'm managing to function in daily life.  I don't like feeling like this.  Everything is magnified and I don't really like myself right now.

And this isn't even mentioning all of the other stuff that I feel is likely related to endometriosis.  Of course, this is a self-diagnosis, because even after 20+ years of trying to get doctors to listen to me, including a full infertility workup, I've been fobbed of and it's never been investigated beyond a pelvic ultrasound, which we all know is not the proper diagnostic tool for this condition.  Eventually I gave up trying to talk to doctors about it.

I'm going to the gynecologist on Thursday for my (overdue) annual checkup.  This doctor and practice are new to me.  It's a gynecology only practice, so hopefully some of the triggers from the old practice (e.g., waiting rooms full of pregnant people) won't be present.  I'm anxious.  I'm wishing that the appointment fell during a more normal cycle where I felt more like myself (a logical, rational human being, for the most part) and not like the Wicked Witch of the West (who may commit homicide or start crying for no apparent reason).  I hope that I like the doctor.  I hope that she's compassionate and empathetic (or at least pretends well).  And most of all I hope she listens and takes me seriously.  While I'll consider the appointment a success if I manage to not loose my shit while I'm there, I'm really hoping to hold it together for long enough to talk about getting a laparoscopy to formally diagnose and remove endometriosis and weigh the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy. 

I needed to get this off of my chest.  I'm having a hard time dealing with it right now. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On my second blogaversary

Two years.  Two.  That's how long I've been blogging.

41,137 page views
177 posts

The stats don't provide the full picture though.


Those things and their impact can't be measured.

I do not have adequate words to express my gratitude for everyone who has been here for all or even part of this journey.  I owe a lot of the credit for where I am today to you.  The readers of this blog have been simply amazing.  I wouldn't be where I am if not for you. 

I am not the person that I was two years ago when I clicked "publish" and took my first blog post live.  I'm stronger.  I'm more confident.  I am resilient.  I've learned the importance of embracing grief, sitting with it, and working through it.  I've learned that my feelings are just as valid as anyone else's and that I don't have to apologize for how I feel.  In the last couple of weeks I've had more than one person tell me "you seem different" or "you seem more alive."  And the answer to both of those statements is that I am.  I'm emerging from the black cloud of infertility.  Dare I say it, I'm even happy most of the time.

There have been a lot of hard things in my second year of blogging.  I skipped my sister's baby shower and caused a bit of family drama.  My sister gave birth to my nephew and promptly forgot the struggle of infertility.  Two of my nieces celebrated their first birthdays.  I saw the conclusion of 22 consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant.  Plus all of the unexpected stuff that jumps out and smacks me in the face when I least expect it. 

But there have also been a ton of great things about the past year.  Hubs and I bought a house and spent time fixing it up (only one urgent care visit required-so far) before we moved at the end of May.  Buying a house, I think, was a huge step in healing.  It is a happy house.  A house of hope and healing.  I got to meet fellow bloggers Justine and Sarah and for the first time in a really long time I could just be.  Conversation hasn't come that easy in everyday life!  I celebrated my 35th birthday and finally understood the cause of my midlife crisis.  I also took a huge step and outed hubs and I on Facebook for National Infertility Awareness Week, and the response was better than I ever could have imagined and I regained a lot of faith in my fellow humans. 

I'm looking forward to year three of blogging and reading blogs.  I hope I have enough to write about!  In the coming weeks you get to hear about my (overdue) annual visit to the gynecologist, always a treat for us infertility survivors.  My sister is also planning family pictures  for October, so I'm sure this will provide plenty of good topics for writing too, since, to put it nicely, I am not looking forward to this.

I've been buried with work lately.  I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs soon!  But in the meantime, thanks for reading, and thanks for being there for me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

An unwelcome invitation

A little over a year ago I lost a friend as part of the fallout of stepping off of the infertility crazy train and moving forward with figuring out my new life without children.  The sad truth is that she was incapable of supporting me in moving forward and I got to the point where I knew that if I was going to get through this that I needed to surround myself with people who didn't judge or question me at every step along the way.  We've both moved forward with our lives and she seems to be doing quite well.  I found out through a mutual acquaintance that she was pregnant a few months ago.  While I had no desire to reach out to her or congratulate her, I'm genuinely happy for her and wish her the best. 

She finally announced her pregnancy on Facebook with photos from a maternity shoot (two things she said she'd never do, but whatever) over the weekend.  Even though I knew it was coming, it still stung a bit.

Yesterday I received a Facebook invitation to her baby shower.  As soon as I saw the invite, I had one of those moments where the air was immediately sucked from my lungs.  I sat there trying to catch my breath.  I asked, out loud, why she would invite me.  She knows I don't go to baby showers.

The logical, rational part of me knows that since it was a Facebook invite, she likely sent it to everyone on her friends list with one click of the mouse.  Even though we aren't speaking anymore I don't think that she would have purposely sent me the invitation because she knows something like that would hurt me.  All of the justification in the world doesn't help.  In fact, in a way, justifying her behavior only sets the stage to undermine my feelings about it. 

The truth is that receiving the invitation hurt me deeply.  It made me angry.  It made me jealous.  These things aren't easy to admit.  I know it probably sounds pretty horrible (at least to anyone outside of this community) that a baby shower invitation made me angry.  But it's a brutally honest admission, and while I'm not necessarily proud of this admission, I'm not ashamed of it either.  And I'm not a bad person for feeling this way.

Feelings are messy.  They aren't always logical.  You don't get to pick how something is going to make you feel, and sometimes you can't even anticipate it.  If there's one thing I've learned over the past couple of years, it's that boxing the emotions up (even the ugly ones) and not dealing with them as they come is not a good strategy.  On the other hand, working through the ugly stuff leads to healing.  Maybe there will be a day when a baby shower doesn't lead to such an intense reaction.  Maybe this day will never come.  But either way, it's okay.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Exactly what my soul needed

A little over a week ago, I met Sarah.  I've struggled to find the right words to write about meeting her.  Why?  Because I realized how important it is to be in the presence of others who get me and who understand what I've been through, and because I realized how many friendships have been lost or fundamentally changed because of infertility (or, probably more accurately, because of how infertility changed me).

I wasn't really nervous to meet Sarah.  We know each other through our blogs and we seemed to get along in the emails and texts planning their visit.  We decided to meet at a local lake to go kayaking.  I figured that in the unlikely event that we didn't have anything to talk about, at least we could talk about nature.  We didn't need to talk about nature.

I arrived at the lake a few minutes early, changed into my sandals, and applied sunscreen.  As I was finishing up Sarah texted to let me know that they were there and she was standing outside the boathouse and wearing a pink shirt.  I took a deep breath and headed over.

We recognized each other immediately and hugged like we've known each other for years.  With that hug all of the walls that I've spent years building came crumbling down.  I knew that I was with one of my people and that I could be myself with no fear of judgement.

I can only describe the next few hours as completely soul refreshing.  I can't even remember the last time I was this unguarded in a face to face conversation with another human being.  Empathy and understanding flowed from her veins, and I hope from mine too.  Laughter, sarcasm, and cursing came out of both of our mouths.  But so did deep and meaningful conversation. 

Just going kayaking with Sarah (and Julio) would have been enough to make my summer.  But the icing on the cake came the next day when hubs and I went out to dinner with them, got to show them our house, and seeing hubs open up in ways that he never has before.   

As they prepared to leave our house, Sarah and I hugged again.  But this time it was different.  I knew that in a few short minutes they would be gone and that I would need to rebuild some of the walls that I didn't need with her.  I managed to hold in the tears until they pulled away.  '

I suspect that it will not be the last time that we spend time with Sarah and Julio.  And I hope to get the opportunity to spend time with the rest of you too, because spending time with Sarah and Julio left me craving more time with my people.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


When we were going through infertility my husband was very stoic.  I knew it bothered him.  I knew he was hurting.  I knew it was angry.  But he almost never showed emotion.  I think he felt like he needed to be strong for me.  And I'm so glad that he was.  But at the same time I wanted, no needed, him to show some emotion.  I didn't care if it was anger or tears or something in between.  He rarely did.  It made me resent him.  Time passed.  We both started to heal, both individually and as a couple. I let go of any resentment that I still held on to and accepted that we handled our emotions differently, and that it was okay, and that there was no "right" way to handle it.

I found a support system through blogging and through pen pals who don't blog but that I met through blogging.  I found people I trusted and who I could share the good, the bad, and the ugly with.  Hubs never found that, and based on Eric's recent post, it doesn't seem like it is uncommon for men to not have a support system.  I'm becoming more open and starting to talk more publicly about infertility and how our journey didn't end with a baby.  Hubs supports me in this, but he still really isn't able to talk about it beyond a simple acknowledgement.

That changed over the weekend.

Sarah and her husband Julio came to Pittsburgh over the weekend, and naturally we spent some time with them.  I could go on and on about how amazing she is and they are, and I will eventually, but I'm still trying to process it all, and figure out the right words to capture it all and how much it meant to me (and hubs).

But I want to write about one small part of our time with them.  Something so small that they probably didn't even pick up on.  

Hubs talked.  At dinner.  At our house afterwards.  Openly.  Honestly.  Comfortably.  I've never seen him share like this before.  He's a man of few words.  To a casual onlooker it probably seemed like normal conversation.  But to me it it was like a breech in a dam.

I don't know if it was that we were with another couple just like us.  Or if it was because there was another guy who had been through many of the same things.  Or because it was the first time he's been around another woman who, like me, is trying to claw her way out of the hellhole that is infertility.  Or because he knew he could trust Sarah and Julio.  Or because of something else.  I don't know and he doesn't either (I asked).  He just said that talking with them felt "normal."

I also think hubs really started to see that I'm doing pretty well.  That I'm not as fragile as I used to be.  Maybe this was what he needed to finally get it all out there.  After Sarah and Julio left we laid in bed and he talked for what seemed like hours about all that we lost.  I want to be there for him like he has always been there for me, and maybe the weekend was a start.