Category Archives: Breaking the Silence
…so don’t even bother asking me to.
Wow! The plan for this week’s blog post was SO different than what it has become. I guess I can just save that one for a later time.
So let’s back up a second. Yesterday I downloaded Resolve.org‘s Listen Up toolkit for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s next month, April 23-29…the 29th is my birthday. After I downloaded the toolkit, I created an album on my personal Facebook profile and added all the photos to it. A little while later, I was “gently” asked to maybe not focus so much on infertility because it may make some people a little uncomfortable.
So after I calmly removed myself from the conversation…telling them to forget my name and blocking them is “calm”, right?!…I sat and stewed for a while.
Infertility is a disease. Just like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Why do we welcome and encourage awareness for those things, and ask people with infertility to sit a corner and stay quiet?
When a friend is going through a divorce, what do we tell them? We tell them we’re here for them. We tell them to talk about it. We tell them it’s natural to grieve the loss of the relationship, the loss of the future. We tell them it’s not healthy to keep all those emotions bottled up. We tell them we are their friends and that’s what friends are for.
Why do I not get that same level of understanding?! And the…well, I’ve never experienced infertility and that’s why I’m uncomfortable with it…is kind of lame. I’ve never been through a divorce. I still don’t tell my friends who are going through a divorce to leave me out of those conversations. I’ve never had cancer…I still talk to my friends while they are going through chemo.
My husband lost his mother more than 20 years ago, I lost my father less than 5 years ago. Him knowing what it’s like to lose a parent didn’t make his hugs to me more comforting. It didn’t make his presence by my side more important. Just like my arms, when he lost his father a year and a half ago, weren’t a place of solace because I knew what it was like to lose a daddy. All that mattered was that we were there for one another, we were by each other’s side, when we needed support. We didn’t have to understand in order to comfort.
Because when you’re going through something difficult, all that matters is that you are surrounded by people who love you. They don’t have to know what to say, what you’re feeling, what journey lies ahead of you. They just need to support you through it.
I talk about infertility, because so many people don’t even know what it is. There’s this idea that if you want to get pregnant and you don’t get pregnant that very first month you try, it’s infertility. Or that infertility can be “fixed” by simply getting a massage to help you relax or a different kind of underwear. (By the way…don’t talk to your friends about their spouse’s underwear. You want to talk about uncomfortable.)
Not talking about it, doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t make it less painful. It doesn’t. And while you may be more comfortable not hearing about it, someone you love is still suffering alone.
1 in 8…that’s how many people suffer through infertility. 1 in 8 have a disease that’s not contagious, but no one wants to be “around” it. Can you imagine how isolating that can be?
My life is a messy kind of happiness. It is full of loss, full of cuss words, full of hospital stays & surgeries. It is financial worries, broken plans, and plants I can’t always keep alive. It’s full of love, full of faith, full of hope. It’s fur baby snuggles through out the night, a marriage working on it’s second decade, it’s Christmas tree lights hung year round. It’s kisses followed by death threats and some times death threats followed by kisses. It’s beautifully crazy. It’s not easy, but it is amazing.
It’s not fair to ask me to share only the happy. To only share the inconsequential. If I can share when a recipe goes right, or when flowers are randomly brought home…why shouldn’t I share when I have a bad day trying to conceive a child? It’s not fair to only be a friend during the good times.
Yes, infertility can be uncomfortable for those that are blessed enough to never face it head on. But that level of comfor comes at the expense of someone you love. And being silent about infertility makes me uncomfortable. And I’m not willing to do that.
If you’ve been around since the beginning of the blog, you know that I’m kinda besties with Ashley from POAS Freak, and was an admin in her Facebook group for a while. On Facebook, just like on here, I am fairly open about our TTC journey. (I know, I’m kinda keeping secrets right now, but hopefully very soon that will change. I mean VERY soon! Like next Tuesday we’ll know the direction our journey is turning.) And even though I am no longer in the role of admin in Ashley’s group, I still find myself-on an almost daily basis-sharing information and answering questions as best I can about TTC. Those conversations are what helped to inspire this post.
So, first…let’s start off with some acronyms that I rattle off a lot, and confuse people with who are just starting their TTC journey.
Common Acronyms Used:
TTC – trying to conceive CD – cycle day OPK – ovulation predictor kit CM – cervical mucus CP – cervical position BBT – basal body temperature LH – luteinizing hormone EWCM – egg white cervical mucus LP – luteal phase (the time from ovulation to your period)
And now onto the 5 things that newbie TTC’ers should know.
- A healthy couple has a 20-25% chance of conceiving each cycle. And it can take up to a year to get pregnant. Do not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen for you the first month that you aren’t using protection.
- A fertility app, like Fertility Friend, is good to have. BUT, an app is only an app if you all you do with it is add the dates of your period. It is a guesstimate of when your fertile window is and when your period should start based on what is *average* for your cycle length. It becomes more accurate the more data you add to it. Such as your BBT, your CM, your CP, and your OPKs or monitors. And then, even with all of that information…it’s still just an app and can be less than accurate. But the more information you add to each day…including daily symptoms…will make it more accurate for you.
- A positive OPK does not guarantee ovulation! It’s a good sign, but it can not be relied upon as a certainty that you are ovulating. An OPK is used to detect a LH surges. And while you *should* ovulate 12-48, most likely 12-36, hours after your first positive OPK, it doesn’t always happen like that. You can gear up to ovulate, positive OPK & all the physical signs including fertile or EWCM, and still not ovulate. And it’s not uncommon to have several surges a cycle.
- Temping or charting your BBT is not meant to help you time ovulation. Temping is more to confirm ovulation. Sometimes there is a dip in your temp the day of ovulation, but not always. And you can have a dip in your temps that is completely and totally unrelated to ovulation. And even if you always have a temp dip the day of ovulation, there is always a chance that you won’t have it any given cycle. So what you’re looking for with temping is confirming that you have ovulated by seeing the temp shift associated with ovulation.
- A temp shift happens after ovulation because progesterone becomes the dominate hormone of the LP. The follicle that houses the egg becomes the corpus luteum once ovulation takes place, once the egg is released. It’s job is to release progesterone, which is a heat inducing hormone, to help prepare the body for pregnancy should fertilization take place. If there is no pregnancy, the corpus luteum dies off, which means it’s no longer releasing progesterone into your system, your temp will drop and your period will start. If a pregnancy is achieved, you lucky ducky, then the corpus luteum gets a reprieve…if you will, until the placenta is able to take over progesterone production.
I am a big temp pusher. I am not even gonna lie. I think that the smartest way to go is using OPKs along with temping every morning. The reason I believe so strongly in temping to confirm ovulation is based on personal experience. Now, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I am one of those chicks who when she decides to do something, doesn’t do it half ass. As evident by my test stash…
I do everything up big! I try to have as much control as possible. lol Ok, so back to my point. When you first start using OPKs and start doing research on them, you’ll most likely hear that once you get a positive OPK, you can stop testing. And in theory that works really well. In theory, anyways.
A few months back, long after I started temping and using OPKs, and just when I thought I knew my body perfectly, it proved me wrong. One cycle I got my positive OPK like normal, around CD16. I expected to confirm ovulation with a temp shift within the next couple of days. It didn’t happen. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. So, I started testing again. They slowly started to get darker again…since we always have some level of LH in our system throughout our cycle an OPK will almost always have a second line on the test, it’s very different from a pregnancy test-a positive OPK is when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line. So about 4 days after my first positive OPK, I got another one. And this one brought about a temp shift. Now, if I hadn’t been temping…I never would have known that I didn’t ovulate with that first positive OPK. I would have assumed that I had ovulated, especially since it was around the right time for me, and then been extremely hopeful when my period was “late”. But, because I was temping, I knew that I didn’t ovulate with that positive OPK, I knew when my actual fertile window was, because I started testing again, and was able to confirm ovulation with a temp shift…therefor, I knew that my period was actually right on time…even though I had a longer than normal cycle.
The very next cycle went even stranger. I got a positive OPK around CD17, I believe, and then went annovulatory. I never had a temp shift. I continued to test on my OPKs, but didn’t detect another surge. Now, when my period would have been expected, I spotted for 5 days. Had I not been temping, I would have believed with everything in me that I was pregnant and the spotting was either breakthrough bleeding or implantation bleeding. But, because I was temping…I was able to save myself that pain. Didn’t save myself any aggravation, but heartache yes. I continued to test with my OPKs and finally got another positive about 5 days after the spotting stopped, and confirmed ovulation the next day with a temp shift. So that is why I think temping along with OPKs is the best way to go.
So this has been weighing on my heart the last couple of days. And I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t speak up about it.
As many of you know, October is not just about Breast Cancer Awareness. It’s also dedicated to Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness. I am 1 in 4, I am the face of pregnancy & infant loss. It is a painful badge to wear.
Over the last few days, several of my fellow BLMs…baby loss moms…have done status updates on Facebook. In these status updates, they explain what October is & that they’ll be posting a lot about Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awarenss. And they explain that they know it’s a hard subject and that those in their friends list who feel uncomfortable with the subject are more than welcome to unfollow them for the month of October. With no hard feelings.
(Now, let me pause for just a second to say that if that’s the decision they’ve come to, then I completely respect them for it. I am in no way upset with them for understanding that people process things differently. I am in no way saying that their position on this subject is wrong or that they are wrong for thinking this way. My feelings on this are strictly about me and me alone.)
Well, I am not that considerate! Back in May when it was Lupus Awareness month and I was posting daily facts, I never felt like I needed to apologize for spreading awareness about the disease I live with every day. If I was posting about Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wouldn’t offer for people to unfollow me until November rolls around.
Pregnancy & Infant Loss isn’t easy. Nothing about it is. So spreading awareness about it isn’t going to be easy. And hiding from it won’t prevent it from happening again. Acting like it can’t happen to you won’t keep it from happening to you. And the reality is, if it hasn’t happened to you…it’s most likely happened to someone you know and care about. And they need your support & compassion.
How can you be a supportive loved one if you’re hiding posts because they are about a hard subject? How will we ever spread awareness like that?
I’m going to post about Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. And if it makes you so uncomfortable that you consider unfollowing me until November-do us both a favor & click unfriend instead. No disrespect, I’m not gonna be mad at you. But if you can’t support me through this month, then we aren’t really friends anyway. So it’s not a loss for either one of us. In fact, if I’m honest, I’ll respect you more for doing that. Because by unfollowing me, you’re saying that I don’t matter unless I’m only happy go lucky Mo.
And let me just say, that my feelings about unfollowing are not just limited to October and Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness. If we are Facebook friends and I’m annoying you to the point of unfollowing-unfriend me instead. Again, I’ll respect you more. Cause I’m gonna be me. And you’re either gonna love me or hate me. I get that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I seriously do get that. But being unfriended sometimes really is the best option for everyone involved.
If talking about pregnancy & infant loss is a deal breaker for you, then I’m ok with that. I’m gonna talk about it, and I’m not going to be afraid to do so. And if we’re truly friends, then you need to support me the way I will support you through your darkest hours. Regardless of what those are about…cancer, infidelity, divorce, bad hair cuts, misspelled tattoos…it doesn’t matter, I will support you through it because we’re friends.
One of my biggest supporters is Ashley from Pee On A Stick Freak. Sometimes I think she believes in me more than I do. lol So the other day, she was helping to promote my blog, Twitter, and Facebook page and asked me if I call my site a fertility site or an infertility site. I told her I call my site an infertility blog.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely am all about promoting fertility. Everything in my being is focused around TTC and trying to improve my chances of having a baby. But I spent years running from the word “infertility”. It scared the shit out of me, if I’m being honest. And then I was officially diagnosed with it. I can no longer hide from it, it caught me.
Everything about infertility sucks! At least for me, I can’t speak for the entire world. It’s isolating, by definition…unproductive and barren. It’s a waste land of emptiness that you walk through. And you feel like you’re walking through it alone. Even though you’re not. My wonderfully supportive husband walks this path with me. He anxiously awaits the lab results, knows more about charting a menstrual cycle than he ever wanted to, and can tell you the sensitivity level of First Response EArly Results home pregnancy test. (For those of you wondering…they’re quantitative nor qualitative and are designed to pick up any amount of hCG in your system over the level of zero, per the manufacturer. I called them myself.) So, I am not alone on this journey, but at times I still feel like I am.
I’m in TTC groups online, and we all talk about the things that we are doing to try to get pregnant. And we do the “get to know you” games, like post the 12th pic in your camera roll. We talk about where we’re from, what our favorite color is, what’s your hobby to keep you busy during the TTW…two week wait, the time between ovulation and testing time/period. But even in the most supportive and loving groups, it’s rare to see anyone actually talking about infertility. It’s the elephant in the room…we all know that the majority of us are in these groups because we’ve had issues getting and/or staying pregnant, but we all ignore that particular aspect. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll see the occasional post about wanting to quit, or someone struggling at the moment with their emotions, and we all know that we can absolutely reach out for support when we need it, but for the most part the posts are mostly upbeat & casual.
So when I say I’m not alone, I mean I am surrounding by loving and supportive people.
I consider myself an incurable optimist. I always look for the silver lining. There is always something beautiful in a situation. You just have to want to see it, and sometimes you have to really search hard for it…but, it’s always there. So I completely understand not wanting to ruin the mood of a group by posting something sad. No one wants a Debbie Downer at a party. And no wants to be one. But sometimes, in the process of keeping a happy mask on, we isolate ourselves even more.
Infertility is a struggle. And it’s scary. It’s something that not everyone will understand or know how to talk to you about. It can be uncomfortable for someone who has never experienced it. But it will ALWAYS be uncomfortable if we never talk about it. It will ALWAYS be something that isolates us as long as we allow it to by only dealing with it inside our own heads. As long as we try to hide from it, it’s going to continue to be a taboo topic to bring up and discuss openly about.
I don’t know if I will ever have a baby. I want it more than I can even begin to describe. My heart and soul ache for it. But the reality is, I don’t know if it will ever happen for me. I know that I pray this new doctor will be able to help us. I pray every day. And my prayer is that I will one day overcome the word “infertility”. But in order to do that, in order to truly overcome the word, I first have to acknowledge that it is my current reality. It is, unfortunately, a part of my life. And ignoring it won’t change that.
So, yes, this is a blog about infertility and what it has done to my life. And I’m proud of that…because one day, hopefully, I will be able to say that I kicked infertility’s ass! In every way possible…not just by having a baby. So for now, I am not going to let infertility rule my life with fear. I will not let it isolate me, I will not stay quiet about it. I will own this!
So on this Carly Marie Project Heal Day of Hope, I am breaking the silence surrounding infertility and offering my support to anyone who is struggling with it. You are not alone!