Clomid Therapy.

On Friday night, I started my second ten-day Provera cycle.  Yesterday, I got a horrible headache and spent the entire afternoon rolling around in a cotton robe (because when I’m home and it’s hot and I feel terrible, I refuse to wear clothes), moaning like Bertha (Mason) Rochester.  Thanks, synthetic hormones!

I think it was only four short weeks ago when I proclaimed to the universe that I was not going to get paranoid or crazy or obsessive about conceiving.  Oh, no.  I was going to be the first person in the history of the world to not worry about what I was ingesting, when to have sex, when I was ovulating, why I wasn’t ovulating, where my period was, what these symptoms are, and whether or not I am having a hysterical pregnancy.  My friend A, of brand new gorgeous baby boy fame, told me last fall that she was having a miserable time trying to conceive because the pressure to perform (on every level: eating good food, knowing your body, taking prenatals, tracking ovulation, actually getting pregnant) was too overwhelming.  I thought she was a basket case.  Oh, what a difference one month makes!

Recent discoveries:

1) Studies have shown that Provera does not cause (a statistically significant larger number of) birth defects.  This makes me feel much better about myself, because despite having five negative pregnancy tests in the last two weeks, I have been convinced that moving on with Provera was akin to eating tablespoons of mercury.

2) Taking Clomid is way more involved than I thought it was.  I’ve done most (read: all) of my recent doctor consultations over the phone (I know that sounds horrible.  Don’t judge me).  I can’t get in to see her until October 1st and I just saw her at the beginning of July and had all my blood work done, so I don’t feel so hugely irresponsible just calling her up and demanding Clomid.  Also, the office has a pretty standard operating procedure for handling this out of the office, so I’m assuming this happens a lot.  However, as I am the kind of person who craves complete and total understanding of all things always, I haven’t been completely satisfied by the office’s assurances that they’ll simply call in my Clomid prescription when my period (finally) starts.  That’s fabulous and I’m excited it’s relatively easy, but a lot of my anxiety has come from not knowing exactly what the plan is.  Cut to yesterday, when I received this “Clomid therapy” timeline in the mail:

Crinone Gel 8%???

I’m going to have a buy a new calendar.  There is no way I can do this without a very neatly written schedule.

 

 

High Alert.

I spoke to my doctor (again) today and committed to the Provera/Clomid cycle (again).  I’ve had two separate phone tag conversations with her about it this week because my indecisiveness knows no bounds.  On Monday, when I initially called and talked the ear off of the nurse who answered the phone, I was nervous about committing to the process of conceiving.  Today when I called, I was nervous about making our child a mutant.

I am not above admitting that I absolutely google every weird thing that happens to my body.  The last three (non-pregnancy related) Google searches on my phone are “small cyst on arm,” “guillain barre syndrome,” and “red mole.”  I’m a googler.  So, last night I decided do some light research on the Provera/Clomid cycle, simply and honestly because I was curious about when the medications are taken and how they work (and because I’m in the last legs of graduate school and that’s just what I do).  What I stumbled upon, however, was a treasure trove of comment threads about two really stressful things: 1) people who have taken the drugs together for months and months and had no success; and 2) people who have taken Provera to stimulate a period after not getting one naturally (and getting negative pregnancy tests), only to find after they’d taken the full course that they were actually pregnant to begin with.  The medical literature seems to be divided on the risks of taking Provera in early pregnancy: it can either lead to birth defects (namely, hypospadias, which sounds horrifying) or have zero impact whatsoever.  Obviously, this isn’t super helpful information.

My doctor, being a normal person, has advised me to trust in the negative test results I keep getting and start the next Provera cycle.  And that’s what I’ll do tomorrow.  I just cannot shake the feeling that something is up with my body right now.  I’ve also watched entirely too many episodes of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” today and I’m on high alert.

Decision Time.

I am notoriously indecisive.  I hate admitting that because it sounds timid and stupid, but it’s always been true.  I am a classic overanalyzer.  To give a small example, I always feel really good about my purchases while still in a store and then immediately feel the need return half of what I buy the instant I leave.  To give a bigger example: this unease with decision-making has only gotten worse, as two years ago, I took a huge leap, went to grad school and am now approximately 100% convinced I will never use the degree I’ve almost completed.  How can I trust myself with huge decisions knowing how well (read: not good) that last huge decision turned out?

The only major life decision I’ve made in my twenties that I remain fully committed to two years later is getting married to my fabulous husband.  Everything else, specifically everything career-related, is still up for debate.

This is exactly why committing to “actively trying” is terrifying.  Sure, I’ve been off the pill since May and we haven’t been using any protection, so for all intents and purposes, we’ve been trying for nearly four months (although I’ve only gotten one period in that time and it was a product of Provera).  Nevertheless, I started this process totally okay with letting fate step in a little bit – I didn’t track ovulation or chart temperatures because that would imply we were really doing this and, as deciding to have a child is the biggest decision one can make, I was a little panicked.   I spent a lot of time thinking, “Please, Universe, we are ready to have a baby.  Do the heavy lifting and decide when.”

However, that was then.  After four months of negative pregnancy tests and continued wonky cycles (which are perhaps even more discouraging than the negative results), I am ready to commit to this process, in whatever way that means for us.

I called my doctor yesterday and discussed the “no period and yet no pregnancy” issue with her.  She suggested I refill the Provera prescription, stimulate another period and then take a round of Clomid to stimulate ovulation.  If I’m not pregnant next month, we can reevaluate at my next appointment on October 1st.

Using Clomid makes this real. If you’re taking a drug that is essentially the kid brother to other fertility treatments, you are committing to this.  You can start a blog, talk about it with your pregnant friends ad nauseam, really, really desperately want it and worry incessantly about your inability to do it, but you aren’t truly doing something about it until you start taking drugs to make it happen.  And here I am, ready to charge into the pharmacy this morning and get my Provera (or, rather, my generic Medroxyprogesterone, because I am cheap).

I have decided.

Meet the Baby.

Yesterday, my husband and I went down to visit my dear friend A and her adoooorable new son, who was born on Thursday.  Being a terribly snarky person, when newborn babies aren’t super cute, I tend to say things like, “Oh, he’s so small!” or “I love that outfit!” because complimenting something relatively neutral makes me appear to be a nice, normal person while also not forcing me to lie.   (I know.  I’m horrible.)  Anyway, I can safely say without any crafty lying that A’s child is one of the most gorgeous babies I’ve ever seen.  I was honestly in awe of him.

Look at how long my part is!

I swear I’m holding him in the picture above (and staring into his beautiful little face).  There’s an elbow there!  See?  I’ve cropped him out (and made this picture look like a vanity shot of just me) because my friend hasn’t even really announced this pregnancy/birth on her own Facebook page and I don’t want to publish photos of her son on the interwebs. I am occasionally respectful.

The husband and I dropped off some brownies for the grown ups (because when I’m running on little to no sleep, sugar keeps me upright and I figured it would work the same way with new parents) and cooed at the baby for a long time.

My husband decorated. So cute.

My husband took a bunch of photos of me holding him and they all look like the one above (except with more baby in them, obviously): I could not stop looking at him.  Babies truly are spectacular, especially when they are the children of people you love.

As of yesterday morning, I am still not pregnant.  I am also still not getting a period either.  I’m not surprised by this at all, considering I once went nine months without a period when I was 15 (and still a virgin, so there was no funny business – just pretty intense cycle irregularity).  However, I’m frustrated now because a period would signal the end of last month’s attempts and the beginning of a new month.  It would allow me to start tracking ovulation, something I want to do now mostly because I suspect that I’m not ovulating and I would really like a huge pile of tester sticks to confirm this to me so I can discuss it with my doctor.

My biggest anxiety is not that I want to be pregnant right now, after just one month of legitimately trying.  It is that there might be something more to my irregularity than just “how I am.”  And I don’t know if I have the patience to wait months and months to figure it out.

 

UUU Part Deux

Let me begin by saying that the title of this post makes me feel like the most hilarious person in the universe.  Don’t judge.

In other news, yesterday was full of exciting pregnancy updates – for other people.  I just got a frustrating and slightly annoying negative morning test result (yes, I did not make it to today without wasting a stick).  However, this frustration and annoyance is very obviously tempered by the fact that the people who announced this baby-related news are my closest friends, so I am absolutely thrilled for them and this makes me less of a jealous monster.

1) My friend trying for her second baby, who had her IUD removed on July 13th (as in, one month ago), had a positive result yesterday morning (…we may have planned to take them at the same time.  Not ashamed).  I saw her tonight and she handed me her ClearBlue digital ovulation tester, as she doesn’t need it anymore and I’m most definitely using it next month, should I ever get my period.

What my bathroom counter looks like now. So much for not being an obsessive weirdo.

2) One of my best friends in the world went into labor late last night and had her first baby, a boy, this morning.  She did it naturally with the help of Hypnobirthing, which I will learn and post all about on Sunday, when I steal all of her materials after meeting her son for the first time.

In the meantime, I’ve just been having cramps all over the place: very low abdomen, hips, lower back.  I am notoriously terrible at “reading my body,” but I’ve gotten familiar enough with myself that I’m aware of what symptoms precede a period and these definitely aren’t them.  Also, I’ve been experiencing them for about six days now with no sign of my period, which is pretty much unheard of around here.  This could simply just be the start of my first non-medically-stimulated cycle since birth control, so conception progress made this week?  I could either be pregnant or not pregnant.  So glad I’ve narrowed it down.

Lovely.

I was a hormonal mess as a teenager.  I had terrible skin (which I cured with Accutane – not pleasant) and terribly greasy hair.  Post-Accutane, my skin/hair normalized almost entirely due to hormonal birth control.  So, you can imagine the joy that is now, as I have been off the pill for four months and am at the mercy of my whacked out hormones.  (Also: hormone, hormone, hormone.)

I give you “Things I Didn’t Know Could Happen To My Hair (And/Or Face)”:

1) I had no idea I would go from perfectly normal, three-washes-a-week hair to completely-unable-to-wash-clean hair six weeks after stopping the pill.

2) I had no idea I would then spend the next 10 days washing my hair with three different kinds of “stripping” shampoos, before trying baking soda pastes and Dove bar soap in desperation, only to discover that my hair was still greasy immediately after drying post-wash every single time.  I took two showers a day for ten days and my hair was never clean.  It was the worst.

3) I had no idea I would be attending my best friend’s baby shower, a graduation at the school where I had just been hired and several family events in those ten days with (still filthy) hair I just washed with a bar of body soap.  (Spoiler alert: I looked like a crazy person.)

4) I had no idea I would solve this hair trauma with a $2.50 bottle of Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo and I could never have predicted the sheer joy I felt when my hair dried for the first time in what seemed like fifteen years and was actually clean.  (As it is, though, I still can’t go more than 24 hours max without a shampoo.  Screw waiting for positive test results – the grease factor is really the worst part of trying to conceive.)

5) I have had at least one active pimple on my face at all times for five weeks.  I’m hesitant to even complain about this, because when I was sixteen, I would have traded anything to have only one pimple at a time.  However, I’m a month shy of 26 and have been acne-free for five years and there is something really distressing about suddenly having to worry about whiteheads and bright purple facial scars again.

Basically, I’m feeling pretty beautiful right now.

Grandparents.

As a kid, I knew six of my eight great-grandparents and I was 23 when my last living great-grandmother died at age 97.  Because the people in my family tend to stay vibrant and hilarious well into their 90s, my mom’s side is insanely close and my grandparents and great-aunts are some of my best friends.  Also, they are super good-looking.

These gorgeous people are my grandparents.

One of the major reasons I wanted to start trying to have a baby now, aside from the obvious “I love children and have a fabulous husband who loves them too,” is that I want our children to know these people I adore.  I want our children to have them at their high school graduations like I did and to have them help plan their weddings.  I want our children to have memories of swimming in my grandparents’ giant pool and picking plums from their trees.  I want our children to learn to appreciate life and love and family like I have, because as an adult, I’ve realized just how remarkably lucky I have been.

Mostly, though, I cannot wait to share this experience with Grandma and Grandpa and Carole and Mickley, as I have shared everything else.

<3.

28 Days Later.

Tomorrow marks 28 days from the start of my first post-birth control period.  If I’m ovulating like the normal person my blood tests led me to believe I am, I should have been “trying” hard enough this month to make conception a possibility.  If I’m cycling like a normal person (which would be a first), I will know by the end of this week whether or not my period has been missed.  According to the highly scientific ovulation predictor I found via WebMD, I should have a period or a positive pregnancy test tomorrow.  However, I have never in my life had a normal 28 to 35 day cycle off the pill, so I am pretty much 100% convinced there is no implantation happening right now (despite the fact that I did have some very low, very bizarre cramping this weekend, which I have never, in all my terrible menstruation history, experienced before).  If I haven’t started a period by Wednesday, I will take a pregnancy test on Thursday morning.  No one cares about this, I know, but I need to proclaim this in a public forum in order to shame myself into waiting until Thursday.  (I already used up a very expensive, not-from-the-99-Cent-Store test on Saturday, because I cannot wait.)

I thought it was a good idea for me to be super casual about “actively trying” for the first few months, because I assumed obsessively tracking ovulation and taking temperatures would consume my life and make me insufferable.  Little did I know that not obsessively tracking ovulation and taking temperatures would make me equally insufferable.  If there’s nothing doing* this week, I am going to feel like I wasted precious, precious time.

*Using this phrase makes me feel like my grandmother, which is something I pretty much always aspire to.  (And yes, I love ending sentences with prepositions.  I am a rebel.)

Childbirth Without Fear.

I recently rediscovered the joys of the library, which is pretty ridiculous of me because my husband is a librarian.  I’ve always been an avid book collector, meaning that I have essentially just purchased every book I’ve read or been interested in reading for the past ten years.  However, when I started teaching again this summer and needed to run to my local branch for some favorite picture books, I found myself once again enthralled with having so many books at my disposal for free.  And, because I am a baby-crazy nutcase, I wandered into the Pregnancy/Childbirth section “just to look around.”  Right.  This is where I decided I had to read the Jenny McCarthy book I mentioned here.  I also picked up a book called “Childbirth Without Fear,” both because its terrifying cover intrigued me and because I am very into having as little fear as possible.  And because the author’s name was Grantly Dick-Read and I just had to.

Is this not the most frightening cover?

So, I checked this book out mostly on a whim.  And as a joke, because I wanted to show my husband the pregnancy book written by the guy with the words “dick” and “read” in his name.

And then I started reading and my mind was blown.  This book is by far the best, most comprehensive, most reassuring thing I’ve ever read about childbirth.  Grantly (and yes, I will be referring to him by his first name, as uncouth as that is, because I do not have the maturity to type Dick-Read over and over again without laughing so much my tears blind me and prevent me from being able to operate a keyboard) examines pregnancy and childbirth as a bodily function and completely dismisses the notion that pain must be associated with the process: “No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception.”  As ridiculous as this sounds, this one very simple sentence produced a very large lightbulb moment for me.  You know what, Grantly?  That’s a very keen observation.

He goes on to say that while there should be nothing inherently painful about childbirth, women do experience very real, very torturous pain during labor due to the mechanism of a pain and fear feedback cycle.  Fear, Grantly explains, causes the innermost muscle layer in the uterus to contract up at the same time that the outermost layer is contracting down in an attempt to expel the baby during labor.  These two competing muscle contractions cause very real discomfort, much like one would expect from any other kind of muscle spasm.  This very real pain then goes on to justify a laboring woman’s fear of the pain of childbirth and the cycle is perpetuated.

Grantly spends a lot of time discussing the psychological components of fear and pain in childbirth and often refers to the pity and horror first-time mothers are confronted with when talking about labor with their mothers, grandmothers or friends who have already experienced it.  He believes it is this societal portrayal of birth as being the most horrific experience a woman will ever have serves to plant seeds of doubt and fear, which in turn contribute to real pain in labor due to the cycle described above.  I found this analysis especially compelling considering “Childbirth Without Fear” was first published in 1959, before we had depictions of terrifying labor on television, in movies and in novels.  Before I started really researching pregnancy and birth about five years ago, I envisioned that all births were meant to be like Julianne Moore screaming her face off in terror during the birth of her child in “Nine Months.”  Thanks to Grantly Dick-Read, I am now dedicated to removing all that frightening imagery from my subconscious before I experience labor myself.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a wimp and a realist.  My only attempts at self-actualization and mediation have been 1) when I cut myself as a child and tried to trick myself out of crying hysterically by asking myself such deep thoughts, “What is pain?” and 2) when I took a yoga classes with a coworker twice a week for five months before realizing that I felt like a fake and an idiot saying “Namaste” to a room full of entitled West LA weirdoes.  Therefore, I was not expecting this book’s mystical approach to resonate so deeply with me.  However, I buy it.  I am actually excited to see if this works.  Approaching things positively tends to work out for the best in every other aspect of the universe – I want to start assuming it could work in childbirth too.

UUU.

I have a very close friend who is trying to get pregnant with her second baby right now (…well, maybe not just this second.  I don’t know the schedule – we’re not that close).  Anyway, it’s been pretty wonderful to have her to educate me through this process, as she also had to take Provera after taking hormonal birth control for an extended period of time and had to get a genetic blood panel run.  She is essentially my conception guru and I appreciate it very much.

In addition to the many other things we have in common (our twelve-year-old friendship, our love for her first baby, our shared joy in oversharing), we have recently discovered that we both really love discussing the state of our uteruses.  So much so that I coined the term “unsolicited uterus update” (or UUU) to describe all the times in the past month that I have sent her a ridiculously detailed or unsavory text message about what I imagine was happening inside my body.  I think this is hilarious, mostly because I am an unusually gross person.

Luckily, she thinks this is great and sends me equally fabulous reports.