12/22/2013

Shuffling and Meandering

I'm still here.  Sort of shuffling and meandering my way through the holiday season this year, so far.  It's not that I'm depressed, really; I just don't feel that inspired.

Good news:  I received my work assignments for next semester, and they were basically what I wanted.  Now, I'm super nervous about teaching my first college class.  It's kind of a loosey-goosey, unstructured class about college success and good habits around: study skills, organization, time-management, health and stress relief, etc.  If anyone knows any great resources, please let me know!  I've been given very little guidance so far and am starting to research and figure out the planning process and logistics on the fly.  Hopefully, I will have a couple of colleagues' syllabi for guidance.

Tomorrow morning will find Zoey and I on the road to Oregon for Christmas.  We will be staying at my brother's house and splitting holiday time between his family's, my parent's, and my sister's family's houses.  As usual, I imagine I will have some difficult feelings come up...

To that end, my leadership program gave me a new process called "Trigger Tracking" in which you look at your feelings and stories around a particularly charged situation and try to gain perspective on the "source event" that initially created this trigger.  In the end, the hope is to release some of the emotion associated with the source event and establish new beliefs or stories.  I tried it out on a trigger that came up for me yesterday at a Transition community organizing retreat and it worked pretty well, so I'll have it on hand to work with the family stuff.

By the way, my leadership program weekend went well - sorry for not reporting back on that.  The sleeping situation kind of sucked, as I was on the floor in a cold-ish room full of people, the one nearest me a snorer.  So, yeah, not much sleep.  But it was wonderful to roll out of bed and head out into the meadow for an early morning "sit" (sitting awareness meditation in nature) with a group of my compadres.  I enjoyed the increased sense of community and belonging, also.

On the break-up front, S took off to stay with a female friend this week.  I met her previously and don't believe there is any romance there, but it's interesting he took off after we had some nice connection on my birthday and were going to talk this week about "us" and future hopes that were recently verbalized.  I'm feeling it as a distancing maneuver and am glad in a way because I am in no way ready to let him back in to my heart.  I may never be ready, but when we are talking about meaningful topics and are both in a vulnerable place, old feelings do come up.  I can't help but feel closer to him.  So, it's better to get some space and focus on my own life.  I'm doing some dabbling in online dating as a distraction.

I hope to post over Christmas, but just in case:  Merry, Merry Christmas!  May your holiday be filled with warmth and light and love.

12/06/2013

Bad Attitude

Bad Attitude.  That's me right now.  Santa might be skipping my house if this keeps up...

I have my monthly leadership training time this weekend (Saturday morning through Sunday evening).  I'm not looking forward to it, for some reason, though I am pretty sure it will feel good once I get there.  I just feel kind of sad right now, likely due to my break-up, and it feels vulnerable to be in a group of 25-30 people when you feel that way, at least it feels that way to me.  A lovely woman from the group who I've Skyped with a couple of times since our last gathering pointed out that there will be a lot of support from the group available.  That's a good way to look at it, but somehow it's not helping right now. 

Also, I just found out this morning that the administrators at my college are offering considerably less hours to us next semester as CTE counselors.  This is not what was originally communicated.  We were told there would be assignments that we would bid on and that we may not end up with the ones we have now.  We were NOT told there would be a lot less cumulative hours to choose from. 

We have known for a while that under the current administration (our Dean retired over the summer), we were less valued on the campus.  A lot of innuendo and rumors have been flying around.  But, again, it was more about changes, not being cut to just a few hours a week or possibly none at all!  I am both angry and scared at the same time. 

I know there is one full-time counseling position soon to be announced in general counseling, which I will apply for, but I'm imagining there are a lot of people who will apply for that.  I have a good relationship with other general counselors but not a close relationship. 

Part of the problem is that we were located in a completely different part of campus than the rest of counseling and student services.  It was near the Workforce Development office but it kept us somewhat isolated - a definite disadvantage now.  I want to call up our Vice President (she's been our interim supervisor) and grill her about all this, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot regarding possible opportunities.  Oy.

Finally, it is FREEZING, as I know it is times ten in many parts of the country that have it worse than we do.  Camping outdoors, especially considering I hate camping to begin with, sounds simply awful.

Oh Lord, I need an attitude adjustment.  Thanks for listening.

11/29/2013

I survived...

... my orphan Thanksgiving.  ha  It actually wasn't too bad.  A friend of a friend hosted and she was a cool person - an aspiring stand-up comedian with depth - and I enjoyed talking with her about both comedy and my theatre activities before everyone arrived.  Yes, unfortunately I was the first to arrive, but in my defense, it was a half an hour after the start time. 

In any case, when the other people did arrive, they were interesting and easy-to-talk-with... and they brought some delicious food!  I bowed out about three hours in, prior to the games portion of the evening, thinking I should get home to Zoey (but equally because my introvert was tired out).  I talked to S for quite another lengthy and productive conversation earlier in the day, on his way to his dad's, and my brother later in the afternoon.  So, all in all, it wasn't too tragic and lonely.

Today, I had a phone appointment with my counselor, then met with S for lunch.   I'm not sure what to say about everything right now... Suffice to say, we have been able to talk through things, be more open, and admit to our parts in the relationship problems more readily with a little distance, I guess. 

On my side, I am seeing more clearly a part of me that is cold and hard... it comes out when I am anxious and/or uncomfortable, which I was with S's insecurity and what I judged as "neediness" around communication and attention, for example.  I want to soften this part of me so that I can be more compassionate and available with myself and my partner. 

S really appreciated being heard around some things, including that he felt I expected a lot of one-way support when I was focused on other things, like family or work conferences etc. but then hadn't seemed willing to give "care and repair" to the relationship afterwards.  He was able to hear that my anxiety and need to prove that I am "okay" can block my ability to engage and be sensitive/caring at these times - that it wasn't about him, as he kept thinking.  This is just one example of many of these types of insights, which feel like a relief to share with one another.

Going forward, we are still broken up and will be communicating less for a while - we said we would not talk or email for the next week, then check in at that point.  He feels like he will get more traction on his anger (and underlying fear) issues working on his own, and that he needs to do this in order to be available for a healthy relationship.  As mentioned, I want to work on softening this cold part of myself that can be so judgmental and distancing. 

Heading in to the lunch today, I wanted to get a sense of whether we both had some level of hope that we might work through our thorniest problems, opening the door to be together down the line.  Somewhat surprisingly, we both said we did have this hope.  He mentioned two or three months as a possible timeline in his mind. 

While I feel happy about this, I also feel unwilling to put my life on hold during this time.  He made the choice to break up, and there are no guarantees as to what will happen.  So, I am thinking - and told him - that I am going to date or at least be open to meeting other people.  Perhaps this experience will help me feel more sure about my eventual commitment to S.  I will say that I have felt more chemistry and closeness with him, since we have been broken up, which could be just due to relief from the conflict/anger cycle and a feeling of "being on the same page"... and could also be partly due to my going off supplements, including DHEA.

So that's my complicated report.  This weekend, I don't have much planned except for dancing on Sunday.  I'm going to try and get a few things done tomorrow but will also need to get the heck out of the house for a while - maybe I'll go see a movie.  I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy this weekend, as well.

11/23/2013

Sad

Feeling sad off and on today.  Woke up to an email from S, which was a response to an email I had sent saying, in part, that I felt grief that we were at the cusp of changes that might have improved things for us - i.e. breakthrough insights on his part around his anger, my going off DHEA, plans to spend more time together, using new communication tools.  He basically shot down the validity of every aspect of potential improvement.  DHEA? Nah, that did not make much difference.  Communication tools?  Not nearly enough, as we weren't even close to a positive shift, etc. 

My email was not advocating we try and work things out, just expressing sadness.  I must have hit a nerve to trigger such a detailed and defensive response.  I imagine he is not as confident as he seems about his reasoning. 

Even though I believe breaking up was the right choice, it's still hard sometimes, and I would like to hear more sadness and complexity from him in his thinking about it.  The one thing I am accepting through this whole ordeal, though, is that I cannot control or change him.  The fact is that I was not happy with him and was less and less so over the past few months.  I had fears and doubts and was anything but certain about being together long term.  There was a time where I felt a lot more positive about it but not for several months now.  I still had hope and I still wanted to get to the other side of the developments mentioned above.  But he did not, and I can't change that. 

He pulled the plug, and he told me that, even though he said differently at one point, he is not now capable of controlling his anger and communicating without constantly attacking me personally.  Even if he wanted to stay together, I would not want to go forward if he told me things would continue as they have been, and he was not going to even try to work on things.  It had gotten to the point where I felt verbally attacked on a regular basis in a way that was not healthy. 

It does bother me that both his and my patterns repeated themselves.  I had judgmental thoughts grow and settle into my mind in a way that blocked my expression of love for him.  He became increasingly negative and jealous and was constantly accusing me of "bad" behavior and not caring about him.  How much did these two things feed into one another?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps we truly are just not meant for one another, considering how much we seem to "trigger" one another and push reactive buttons.  That, added to the question I had about whether our overall level of chemistry was adequate does make me doubt our lasting power over time.

We are going to meet in-person (finally) tomorrow at a coffee shop to process the break-up.  He would have just gone on without that, but I felt our relationship and history was deserving of a conversation beyond phone and email.  Wish me luck.  I hope to come out of it feeling like I have been understood to a greater degree and vice versa.  And ideally, with a sense of care for one another. 

On another note, I attended a community meeting today from 10am to 1pm, during which we got to know each other better, talked about co-housing and intentional community possibilities, and ate a delicious, healthy potluck meal.  The people were great, and I'm excited about possibilities there.  This community will be based in a specific geographical area, however, and I'm not positive where I will be living come next summer after my housemate gets married (now that S and I will obviously not be living together).  He may even move in with his fiance sooner than that and said he should know the timeline in the next few weeks.  We will see.

Speaking of potlucks,  my leadership training pod is coming to my house for a potluck on Monday night.  I get a little anxious about hosting people but am looking forward to checking in on our leadership assignments together.  I have been doing writing on my "creative scene" (ideal vision) for relationship and will do some writing on my work scene tomorrow.  The project I will focus on over the next several months in the program will come from this exploration process.

Lastly, I still have not figured out a plan for Thanksgiving.  Looks like I may be eating the full spread I bought myself (well, not all at once!) and watching movies with Zoey... The sweet thing is that several people, including some of you guys, have said they would hang out with me or would invite me over or whatever if they were in town or didn't have set plans with their in-laws, etc.  So, I do feel cared for.

11/16/2013

Reflections on Dysfunction

This week has gone better than it could have... the vices I turn to in times of pain or extreme stress have not reared their ugly heads, and I am taking decent care of myself. 

My involvement in this leadership program is making a big difference, in that I don't feel "alone" in the world.  As most of you know, my family lives in Oregon and we're not all that close, anyway.  Friendships for me seem to grow at a snail's pace, so I have a few friends but still no "best" or super close friends.  I am part of a few communities that provide opportunity for group activism, socializing, or creative expression, but these haven't grown into a network I could turn to when I need deeper support.  My support system has basically been my brother and my housemate, and occasionally a couple friends I see through the community stuff.  I get support from blogging, which feels great, but I wish you guys could come over to the house! :)

Anyway, knowing that this group of people are there and we are all moving through this journey and process together is surprisingly helpful.  I have some tangible connection in between the monthly gatherings, too: today, I talked to my assigned support "buddy" and in about a week my regional "pod" (6 other people) are coming to my house for a potluck and check-in.  The facilitators talk about all of us forming a "village" that will support our goals and about how important this is - how we used to have closer extended families and neighborhoods but that's not common now.  So true, in my case.  My nuclear family was very isolationist.

So, I'm doing okay I guess.  Waves of sadness come over me and I have cried a few times, which is totally normal, of course.  Our minds want to remember things in a nostalgic way, like "wasn't that so great how we used to do this or that?"  But I keep pulling myself back into the reality that much of S and I's time together was rocky, stressful and often full of pain.  Maybe not for certain periods, but for a long time now, and increasingly moreso the last few months.  To help me in my perspective and my heart separation from S, I would like to share a few things that were indicators of dysfunction:

  • I think about Tahoe and how we couldn't even walk the dog or make a frickin' salad without bickering or getting tense, and how he got so pissed off at me for not responding to him at one point.  How the mornings and evenings in this beautiful place often involved fighting and stress.  That was a low point for sure and fueled additionally by progesterone.  But almost every trip with family involved a lot of tension and fighting - that just isn't a good sign. I recognize my part in that I am often more stressed and less grounded around my family (though happy sometimes, too, and especially happy with the kids).  I have less to give a partner at these times and can seem more distant.  But S knew this about me and we had talked in depth about "why" this was, yet he didn't cut me slack or talk to me from that perspective of knowing how hard it could be for me.  He continued to get resentful and take things personally and generally make things emotionally harder.
  • The relationship didn't provide the support and synergy I would like to have with my partner.  When I talked about my work passions or ideas and goals, he would sometimes take a skeptical stance or just not provide much enthusiasm or positive encouragement.  In one case, I asked him several times if we could do a brainstorm session for creative goals I had, and he was lackluster and avoidant.  When I was seeing a life coach for help with getting career counseling clients, I couldn't talk to him about it because he would express doubt and fear or withhold support, which was painful.  Later, he admitted it brought up fear about his own goals, but this was a general pattern.  He also struggled to go to a place of mutual excitement or synergistic exchange of ideas, which I so love doing.  This relates to my vision of a relationship including collaboration and partnership on creative or community projects.  We didn't work well together in this way.... except with participating in activism and personal growth "events" - these were on the good side of the chart.  But I want to have this goodness when we are alone together, outside of events.
  • The last one I'll share for now, because I'm making myself depressed, is one that will not surprise you: chemistry.  Since early on in our relationship, I have questioned whether that area was "good enough."  He's significantly older than me (9.5 years) and looks his age.  Also, the chemistry/smell thing was a little off - sometimes pretty good and sometimes not great (the supplements I'm on may have affected this at times).  I know it's not the most important thing and that it fades over time, but I believe it can also provide the "juice" or excitement to help you get through the tough times.  It can provide fun and intimacy and actually has been shown to jack up chemicals in our brain like oxytocin that help our immune response and make us feel happy and relaxed.  It was hard to be clear in this area with him because sometimes we had a good dynamic and fun times - definitely more at certain times of my cycle and more when he was more "in shape" and taking better care of himself.  But overall, I would rate this area a 6, and I don't think that's good enough.  On reflection, I also think that his anger and our fighting made things worse in this area.  Anger is not sexy.

Thanks for listening and for your supportive comments on my last post.

A couple last pieces of news:  I'm postponing my fibroid surgery until January so I don't miss my training weekend.  Also, so that I have more time to line up care and transportation, since S will obviously not be helping now.  We were going to go to his dad's for Thanksgiving, so now I am left without a place to go.  Trying not to feel sorry for myself on this one.  I guess I'm going to put out feelers and see what a couple of my friends are doing, but I hate doing that.

11/13/2013

It's Over

S and I have broken up. He was the one to officially end it yesterday, on the phone, on his way out of town for a training. Because we have been fighting so much for so long now, it wasn't shocking, but didn't see it coming at that time. I'm sad but also feel some relief.  I think it's interesting that this affirmation came to me two days before we broke up:  "My relationship is stable and relatively calm, and is filled with love, compassion, and understanding."

11/11/2013

Turning Over New Leaves

Just wanted to share a few (fairly) quick updates:
  • I am running my first crowd funding campaign and am inching closer to my goal of covering half of tuition for the Ecology of Leadership program.  I don't know if I have shared a lot on this blog about it, but I feel stuck in a certain unproductive pattern in my life (dealing with time and reclusivity).  It has felt protective, but I see it does not serve me, as is.  So, I am hoping to shift that pattern and also accomplish my goals to increase my Green/Transition career counseling clients and to be part of a social change performing arts troupe.  The first weekend of the training actually just happened (on a check and a prayer).  It was so intense!  Brought up some of my awkward, insecure feelings in groups - mainly at the end when I was exhausted - but also introduced some awesome tools and structures, such as a support buddy and a several-person "pod" of people who will meet in between monthly training weekends and offer mutual support and accountability.
  • S and I are continuing to vacillate back and forth from getting along to having painful conflict.  My family was in town for the Oregon/Stanford game, and we went out for dinner and drinks.  It went well overall but ended in conflict about how I was "not letting him speak."  Then, we had the best intentions for my weekend training - even though every weekend event in the past has brought up difficulty - but we ended up fighting on the phone as I drove back yesterday.  I know I contributed.  I was so exhausted and intolerant of his questions and what I felt was a lack of trust and effort to control me.  To be transparent, I'm ashamed to admit I may have smoked for a few days back when we were in our most stressful time of recent fighting.  Well, remnants of this time were still on the deck, and when S came over to care for Zoey yesterday, he saw these and thought I was still partaking in this behavior.  I told him no, these were from before (which I'd told him about), but he continued to question me on the exact timeline.  I sort of blew up.  I am so wanting love and acceptance right now - my ability to weather judgment and anger is at an all-time low.  So I'm trying something new... since saying what I "don't" want has not worked so far, I decided to come up with an affirmation of what I "do" want.  What do you think?:  "My relationship is stable and relatively calm, and is filled with love, compassion, and understanding."
  • My surgery to remove the large fibroid behind my uturus, scheduled for December 6th, conflicts with one of the EOL monthly training weekends.  I am checking to see if there is any way to reschedule for early January.  If not, I feel I need to suck it up and miss a weekend of training.  It will be difficult, but I have waited so long and am so wanting to move forward and get this problem resolved.  The program leaders said it was okay for us to miss a weekend but strongly suggested we try and make them if at all possible.  They are all about "creating the village," which I understand - and which may meet my long-held desire for community - but which can also be very intense!

Guess that's all for now.  Still looking forward to the holidays, despite having a lot on my plate.

p.s. Oh, and Zoey's bumps above her eyebrow went away.  Yay!


11/01/2013

Halloween and Moving Forward

Thank you for your feedback and support around my and S's difficulties.  I really appreciated receiving your comments.  We have come back from the brink.  In huge news, he has recognized and admitted that he has a lot of anger from childhood (perhaps exacerbated by issues in his marriages), and it comes out in vastly disproportionate ways in our relationship.  He is working with our counselor around some acceptance and healing work, which will hopefully lead to having a healthier relationship with the anger and more skill in expressing feelings. 

On my side of the aisle, I see that I was the one that opened the door to breaking up by bringing up this possibility in the heat of some of our recent arguments.  In the moment, I felt completely overwhelmed and part of me DID want to get away from him, but in the big picture, it's not what I want.  So, I'm instituting a self-imposed moratorium on break-up language, and am also working to be more present when conflict comes up, versus deflecting it or getting defensive.  I get scared this means I'll be trampled on but am trying to remember being present doesn't mean being a doormat.  Ideally, I want to be present for both myself AND for him - trying to acknowledge his experience, while not taking in the shame part.

Enough of the super heavy and deep stuff for this post.  We had a fun Halloween evening!  I raced home from work but still missed most of the trick-or-treaters, I think.  :(  I handed out candy to a few groups, including one gaggle of teens, just as we were leaving.  For some reason, the teens were endearing to me, and I was glad to end the candy-giving time with them.  Then, we went out for Halloween drinks and had some enjoyable conversation about the deep stuff going on with him and with us.  We came back to my place afterwards and goofed around - watching TV and doing computer and household stuff in a tipsy state for a while - then had a nice sleepover.

We have a birthday party to attend tomorrow night, church Sunday morning, and hopefully continued dance lessons Sunday night.  S is somewhat reticent because he has a lot of writing work on his plate, but I really want to keep up our dance progression.  I think it adds to the fun and romance of our relationship, which is vital.

Quick ttc check-in... I'm starting to wean myself off of the DHEA/Metformin and am pretty much throwing in the towel on my own eggs.  I'm not sure the grief around this has hit me yet, but I do feel we gave it some really good tries here at the end.  Last week, I talked to someone at CA Conceptions, and that program sounds promising on the donor embryo front.  Continuing to do research.  In the meanwhile, I'm taking action to get my large fibroid (and likely the smaller one too) outside my uterus removed.  I have a consult in two or three weeks with the same surgeon I met with previously and will hopefully get the surgery before Christmas.

I'll end with pictures of Zoey in yet another Halloween costume that didn't fit!  In the second picture, you can see she has a couple white bumps on her left eyebrow.  She's had them for a few days and I'm keeping an eye on them.  If they don't improve soon, I'll take her in to the vet.  Any idea what they might be?  I'm thinking either bug bites or a reaction to a poison oak-type plant.





10/26/2013

Prayers welcome

I would welcome any prayers or good thoughts at this really difficult time with S and I.  We had a blow up based on a situation that happened at my conference this week.  I chose to take a group hot tub with some colleagues (two men and three women, including me) and S felt I was insensitive in how I communicated around it.  He is packaging it with other recent experience and coming to the conclusion that I don't care for him enough, or in the ways that he needs.  From my perspective, he sees things through a lens of fear and goes right to anger instead of trying to share his feelings more openly with me.  I admit I have a low tolerance right now for this pattern, after having experienced it for a long time now.  I'm ready for more stability and consistent closeness.  Does that even exist?  We're taking a week to reflect and regroup.  I want to use this time to go inward and get more clear about my own feelings and level of commitment.  It is a very hard time for us.

10/22/2013

What would it take?

This cycle was indeed, sadly, a bust.  I think I figured out the mystery of the dark spotting.  Apparently the herb supplements I have been taking from the Acupuncturist work to get the blood moving, and that can actually break down fibroids.  Remember that huge fibroid I have that I will likely get surgery for soon?  I think it is the culprit.  The fact my Acupuncturist did not catch that connection the first month it happened leaves me feeling irritated and uncertain of her abilities.  I like her in other ways, but she seems to lack a certain detail-oriented, connect-the-dots focus that would be beneficial.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my request for sisterly advice.  I appreciated some of the points and questions brought up, such as expense and how much I want to have the experience of pregnancy (not sure on that one yet).  I have already begun researching, considering, and discussing with S both embryo adoption and foster adoption.  In good news, I am not starting at ground zero in terms of knowledge.  I actually completed the foster adopt training classes when I lived in central California.  I believe they are different here, and I would have to complete them again, but they provided good information. 

From that class, for example, I learned what they want in terms of finances and home study preparation.  Before we jumped in wholeheartedly to trying to adopt and/or follow through on embryo donation (I will be doing initial research/taking first steps), I think it would be best if either S or I find a full or close to full-time position.  S is working full-time right now, but he is a contractor with not much security.  He is the better candidate to land a "solid," full-time job, and I believe this would be best in the long run in terms of child care.  But in the short-term, I could take something more full-time, as well.  Even if I simply made more money through another part-time position, this would likely help. 

On top of the employment piece, we both would benefit from bettering our savings discipline.  I have retirement through my work, which feels like something.  My goal is for both of us, hopefully, to start putting away more each month and investing in CDs, or whatever will earn the most interest in savings and allow smaller lump sum investments.  I have also decided to rejoin a support group around money, which is no cost but provides tools and focused group butt-kicking support around creating a spending plan, etc.

I believe it would be helpful on multiple levels (of course necessary after a child arrived!) if we also were living together.  We have been talking about this for some time, and it would be the next step for us, assuming we can work through some of our communication difficulties.  We have discussed moving in during the first part of next year, maybe three to five months. 

In talking to him the other day, I realized that a lot of his reticence, and even some of the fighting that's been happening, is related to his concern about finances.  I currently have a very reasonable rent situation.  His is not great, but okay.  If we move in together, it will likely be a higher cumulative amount.  Also, Zoey ideally needs a backyard.  I guess I could make it work with dog parks and walks, but it would be far less ideal than the current situation. 

Another worry that came up for him - I also worry about this but less so - is having less time for himself and the writing work he does outside of regular work.  He already feels time scarce, as it is.  As an introvert, myself, I get this.  I tend to land on the optimistic side of things, however, and imagine that we could negotiate this and still do things on our own and make boundaries around needed alone time.  Any coupled or previously coupled introverts out there with any advice how to best do this?  An ironic sidenote: when we have conflict, it often tends to be about wanting more attention, communication, connection!

I need to run now and finish getting ready to leave for my conference.  A co-worker is picking me up in and hour and a half to head to the airport!  Yikes!  The conference is in Palm Springs and will hopefully be fun, as well as work.  More when I return... 

10/18/2013

Not looking good...

Sadly, it looks as if my next cycle is likely starting today, at 14dpo.  I had a bit of cramping and darkish spotting yesterday and today some more, with an increased amount of spotting (still dark).   The cramping has stopped at this point, and I felt a strong "twinge" cramp earlier today in the uterine area.

Do you think there is a chance I might be experiencing late implantation?  Did anyone else who has experienced pregnancy have spotting around the very end of their cycle?

I'm not sure what my next step will be, if this cycle is over.  I guess I will do as I was thinking and get back on track for surgery to have my large fibroid removed.  Unless I get a very strong sign that I should go forward with IVF with my own eggs, I am not going to pursue that due to my chances of success and financial limitations.

I do see possible donor eggs or embryos in my future or possibly adoption... more on these possibilities later.  If any of you that have been reading this blog for a while would like to give me some sisterly advice on what you think would be the best choice for me, I would love to hear from you now or later.  I am just beginning research and mainly know about these options through the stories of others.

10/15/2013

Join Me in a Mind Game?

I know it's all a big mind game, but for funsies, I thought I would share a couple new signs. 

As mentioned in this morning's post, I am currently at 11 dpo.  Driving home from my acupuncture appointment early this afternoon, I reached a bit and felt an unmistakable stabbing pain in my underarm.  This is not usual for me, even on progesterone (at least not the last few cycles... I'll have to look back a ways to double check). 

As the day has progressed, it's become a continual soreness, more on my left than right.  Oddly my breasts themselves are hardly feeling sore today. 

The other sign - now don't laugh! - is feeling more sexual than usual at this time.  I usually feel pretty un-enthused during the last week of my cycle, but then often experience a little wave the day before, or as my period is starting.  This is two or three days before, so not my usual pattern.  I heard that it's possible you can feel more sexual in early pregnancy, due to increased blood flow.

Sooo, again, fully admitting it's a mindgame, I would love to hear any thoughts or feedback from you all!

10/14/2013

Killer Convergence and more...

Back from the Convergence last night... It went smashingly!  Over three hundred people, kickass keynote speakers - the best of them our founder, Rob Hopkins - and my opening circle exercises Saturday morning went really well.  Practicing does pay off!  I must have run through those activities 20 times in the few days before the event.  lol  Not everyone was up and ready to go at 9am but we had over a third of the people there or more, and I'm glad to have the facilitation experience with a larger crowd and with using a headset mic and collaborating with others who did an activity after me, as well.

S's panel on Climate Change activism went great, too, and he was very pleased with the number of folks who showed up.   He's a total picture guy and is always posting on FB, so he was frustrated with me for not thinking to take a picture during his panel... especially since he took an awesome picture of me during my opening circle.  Whoops.   Oh well, I think he forgave me.

We did get into another fight on Saturday evening but were able to take a timeout and not escalate.  We are continuing to figure things out with expectations/resentment/conflict/judgment, etc.  I guess things don't turn on a dime, just because you become more clear you have a problem.  Looking forward to going together to a movie Wednesday and having drinks afterwards, though I suppose I should stick to a Shirley Temple!

By the end of the weekend, my introvert side was ready to chill out and recoup, and luckily I was able to have that space when I got back.  I did go shopping and run some errands in the afternoon but have been mostly home.  Oh, and one organization represented at the Convergence does what they called "The Ecology of Leadership" training, and I completed their application today.  I really want to do it!  I feel blocked around pursuing a couple of my biggest goals - co-forming a Social Change Performing Arts Troupe, and joining an intentional community - plus I can see how I sabotage my professional reputation and relationships sometimes by letting anxiety control my decisions.  This training emphasizes learning in community and mutually supporting one another, and we would be meeting one weekend a month for the next six months.  I'm working on getting sponsorship assistance with the fee, so fingers crossed!

About ttc... no big signs.  Maybe a little breast soreness.  I'm at 10 dpo.  Yesterday, my temperature took a three-tenths dip but was back up today at 98.04.  It was a bit colder there, even in the hotel room, so that may have contributed.  I do think we timed the IUI perfectly, and S and a BD'd the night following to fully cover our bases.  I will keep you posted.  I have another acupuncture appointment tomorrow and need to get some more Chinese herb supplements.

10/05/2013

Long Overdue Update


I apologize for the dearth of updates.  The last cycle did not work.  It ended - or the next cycle started, depending on how you look at it - very oddly.  I had two days of very dark spotting, one day more of increased dark spotting - almost a light flow - then into a very heavy period.  I'm not sure if something started to happen and didn't take?  Or maybe it was related to the Chinese herbs I had begun that month?  In any case, it was very strange and like nothing I had experienced before.

That was 13 days ago.  My OPKs this cycle tried to confuse me with several light lines, sometimes a bit darker, but always significantly less than the test line.  Finally, I saw a dark line on Thursday morning and went in for the IUI yesterday.  This is cause for celebration!  I finally got an IUI in on a "bump cycle," following a medicated cycle.  There was a lot of psychological weight around that for me, for whatever reason, and it helps me feel like we made our best effort to conceive with my own eggs.  Other things I'm doing right now to give a best effort:

  • Added Fish Oil and Wheatgrass to my load o' daily supplements (currently: DHEA, COQ10, vitamin D3, L-Arginine, prenatal, baby aspirin).
  • Seeing a "real" acupuncturist every week or so, which includes electro-stimulation, heat lamps, and lots of needles.
  • As mentioned above, I have also added Chinese herbs under the care of my acupuncturist.

I will try and do better with posting updates over the next couple of weeks.  S and I head off to the big Transition/Permaculture conference next weekend, so I'm gearing up for that and preparing to lead the Saturday opening circle.  S will be moderating a political panel.  We had a rough time this week but, after some open talking and a counseling session (for him) today, we are in a good place.  Having some adult time today was wonderful - and helped with the ttc efforts, as well!

Happy Beginning of Fall to Everyone!

9/17/2013

Good News and Bad News

First of all, thank you to everyone who wished me well on the trip and with this cycle.  Sunday is our test day and so far, no symptoms to speak of, except some moodiness/sadness.  And wanting to eat a lot. but that is likely stress and progesterone.

Regarding the trip, there is good news and bad news.  We made it through the family trip to Oregon in a LOT better shape than the Tahoe trip and I was able to take a quiet, candle-lit "time-out" when I really needed one.  And S was generally more centered and supportive, though he had to do a few hours of work while we were there - thinking about it now, I wonder if that helped him stay centered?  In any case, overall, much better trip in terms of fighting less and staying relatively balanced.

The bad news is that I still had a LOT of critical thoughts come up about S, in terms of physical flaws.  I think I'm seeing the connection pretty clearly between family time and increased anxiety about S being "good enough."  I do recognize how arrogant and mean this sounds... I so wish I could control this evil part of my brain.

As the weekend wore on, S could feel distance and I ended up sharing that I wasn't feeling connected to him physically, which was hard for him to hear.  Then, at the end of the trip he pressed me to say more about what was up for me that was leading to him feeling distance.  So I shared more details about where my mind was going (fitness, age-difference, etc.), but that was very painful for him to hear.  :(

I think there are factors throwing fuel on the evil fire in my brain including:  as mentioned, the anxiety and lack of self-acceptance that comes up with family; the progesterone supplements - and likely the dhea and other long-term supplements I'm on; and the added pressure of us talking about living together and marriage.

In our talk on the way home, I had some grief come up again about missing out on that "young love" and commitment experience of falling in love with abandon, knowing this is the right person for you - the love of your life - and easily moving forward and deciding to settle down together.  I had the falling in love with abandon thing in my early 20's with someone who was not available (and not even a good match in retrospect) - the ex I've written about here.  But it never got out of the gate and other relationships didn't come close to that.  Well, maybe one college boyfriend, but it was definitely immature love, and when I graduated a year ahead of him, I met someone else.

S and I do have a more mature love, but he's pretty restrained in the ga-ga romance department and has understandably been affected by being married twice before.  And, though I feel a lot of love and attraction for him, I would ideally like to feel more consistent chemistry.

I'm obviously feeling some confusion.  This week, I will make another counseling appointment to get some help in sorting it out.  I wish it were more simple - or that I could remove part of my brain!  I am open to feedback or advice.

9/12/2013

Rolling Along

I think I've definitely reached "jaded" status.  I'm just rolling through the motions of this IUI without a lot of excitement, hope, or much of any emotion, really.  I guess I had a minor stress episode when my bbt was up a bit when just starting to do my OPKs (and seeing a very faint line).  I thought I knew where I was in the cycle - quite early still - but then I got worried... which was my own fault really, since I tried to second-guess the fertility clinic's advice and skip a monitoring appointment.  I called the nurse sheepishly and agreed to come in the next morning, as planned.  I think I would likely have been okay waiting one more day but better safe than sorry. 

The follicles - all two of them :( - ended up being big enough to trigger, so I did so on the spot and came in for the IUI bright and early Sunday morning.  I felt quite a few twinges before and after ovulation this cycle... but no other symptoms so far, even though I'm on progesterone.  I was so disappointed to learn there were only two follicles - one on each ovary.  There were a few other little ones but they never took off. 

Oh, and I started acupuncture again last week with someone who seems a lot more skilled than the last "normal" acupuncturist I went to, and certainly more skilled than the community acupuncturists who can't even place needles in my abdomen.  At one point in the treatment, she used these cool needles that send electric pulses into the site.  She also put a few little needle patches in my ear before I left - anyone else had those?  I got used to them, but at first I kept forgetting they were there, rubbing my ear, and saying "Ow!".  I have another session tomorrow morning.

In other news, the universe has an odd sense of humor.  Turns out, S and I are heading up to visit my family in Oregon under pretty much the same circumstances of the ill-fated Tahoe trip!  It will be about the same time in my cycle, I'm on progesterone, and we're doing an injectable cycle.  Wish us luck! 

Luckily, I saw the counselor on Tuesday, and she gave me some good framing and strategies for us to use.  One strategy is to consciously have "recovery" time when we come out of a period of time with family.  Unfortunately, because they aren't able to do the unconditional love or acceptance thing, I am not able to be open and relaxed when I'm with them (mainly my parents) and can end up feeling not so good about myself.  This can lead to tension with S and I, which sucks.  So I want to try some journaling, prayer, meditation, quiet time, etc. when coming out of these times and see how it goes.

Saturday we are all meeting up at 11am and heading to the Duck game.  Woo hoo!  Then, we'll come back to my brother's house afterwards for dinner and to hang out.  S and I are bringing Zoey and staying in a hotel the first night (we'll likely get in very late on Friday), then at my brother's the next two nights.  He and his wife bought a big new house that has an extra room and bathroom, so that should be cool.  Can't wait to hold and play with my nieces and nephew.

8/30/2013

Coming to an end...

...of my journey with injectable cycles.  This will be my last one in the foreseeable future.  Studies show not much benefit for women my age anyway.  More success has been seen with natural cycles or, I think, even Femara.  I really hope to catch the "bump" cycle following this one (assuming this one doesn't work!) with an IUI this time.  If you remember, we missed our IUI on the last "bump" cycle due to our DC travel plans.

My temperatures have been gradually dropping the last couple mornings, so I'm assuming AF will arrive today or tomorrow.  Fertility Friend indicates I'm at 13dpo, but in my opinion I could also be at 12dpo.  I usually start my cycle on 13dpo.  Once it starts, I will go in for my first monitoring appointment the following day, and the ride will begin!

In our Tuesday phone consult, which confirmed we will be using the same protocol as the last injectable cycle, I asked the doctor about embryo donation sites and will probably begin checking those out.  S and I have had a couple of preliminary conversations about this, and we both seem open to it.  I feel good about the way things are going lately with us.  Trip to Oregon planned for the weekend of September 14th.  More to share on that later.

8/24/2013

New Fun Things

I have seen other bloggers do regular posts like "Small Good Things," etc., and I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.  I'm going to try a post every month or so on things that have just started or are about to start and feel "fun" to me.  Here is the first installation:

  • S and I are trying out a new progressive church tomorrow.  Finding a church has been something I've wanted for myself and for us ever since we started dating.  More spiritual foundation and community will hopefully be grounding and supportive for us. 
  • NorCal Transition and Permaculture Conference.  I think I blogged about the regional Transition Town conference last year.  I'm on the planning committee again this year, we're combining with Permaculture folks, and it's going to be way bigger!  Entertainment, dancing, a world market, and tons of great keynote speakers - including Rob Hopkins, Richard Heinberg and Julia Butterfly Hill - and workshops.  It's will take place the second weekend in October in the beautiful town of Hopland up North.  Dog friendly hotel here we come!
  • A book called, "Attached."  Not everyone would find this one fun!  S and I are getting a lot out of it's description of attachment styles and how to work toward having more "Secure" attachment behaviors with one another.  It's so interesting - I also feel some chagrin! -  to see myself so accurately described in the "Avoidant" attachment style section.  The patterns include "Phantom Lover"s, or idealizing your exes, and focusing on the negative aspects of your partner and forgetting the good. 
  • Meno.pur has been purchased and have an appointment on Tuesday with my San Francisco RE to talk about the upcoming injectable IUI cycle.  Wondering if he could throw any more into the protocol that "won't hurt but could help."  If nothing comes of that, then we will do a similar protocol with three vials/day of Meno.pur, since my response was good last time.  Currently on 7dpo of a natural cycle.  I didn't ovulate until Cycle Day 15, which is several days later than I have been ovulating recently and seems like a good thing.  No signs to speak of yet, but the past few days, I've been sick with a throat/congestion-type virus.  Didn't I hear that being sick can actually increase your chances?  Maybe I'm dreaming that up.

Hope you are all having a great weekend.  I had a blast at our barbeque last Sunday - the perfect combination of sun, beer, bbq, and good conversation.  Gave me that needed dose of summer fun...

8/16/2013

Summer Cessation and Seeking Meaning

Though the weather is still sunny and warm here, I'm definitely getting the feeling that fall is fast approaching.  Students return to my college next week, bringing, thankfully, my full-time schedule with them.  People seem a bit more energized and productive, letting go of the more relaxed summer mode.

I did some great things this summer, including trips to Tahoe and DC... but - whine alert - I haven't had nearly enough "chill" summer activities, like barbeques and outdoor parties, and long hikes.  Well, I guess hikes aren't exactly "chill," but to me they're fun and summery.  We have a barbeque on the calendar for this Sunday, though - yay!  And I think I'll try to cram a few more fun and outdoorsy things in to the next couple weeks.  What special summery things have you been up to?  Are you ready for summer to end?

As mentioned, I'm returning to "full-time" at the college next week, which for us is a bit less than half time.  There is a possibility our allotted hours may increase in the future, but at this point I'm still wanting another income stream, ideally another part-time college gig or something to do with career counseling and/or teaching.  From the experiences I've had here and there, I like teaching adults.  They are very cooperative.  lol  You do need to allow more room for them to share their wisdom and relate learning to their lives, but I think that's fun.  A college self/career development course would be great or something through a career center.  Anyway, I'm beginning to put more focus on looking, as well as on my new clients....

And by the way, I have new clients!  I'm just a wee bit excited.  One woman was a referral from a friend - she's interesting and so far we really click - and then I'm also working with the daughter and son of another friend.  One other acquaintance also called this week, and I'll be talking to her tomorrow about her goals.  So I guess the marketing I've done so far, which is not much really, is paying off.  Very encouraging and motivates me to want to do more.  My housemate fixed up the back studio last year and now we are both finally using it to see clients.  I want to decorate it and make it more cozy, but at least it's got a pretty wood floor, nicely finished walls and is functional.  There is that part of me that never feels "good enough," but I'm working through that and just continuing to move forward.

On another note, it's funny how taking a month off from ttc creates a void that wants to be filled.  I have realized that ttc takes a lot of my energy and focus, and, not only that, it actually gives me a sense of meaning.  What's more meaningful than pursuing parenthood?  Not a lot, at least for me.  So when that piece is on the back burner, I'm aware that I don't have enough going on in my life to meet my needs for contribution, meaning, and creativity.  I have little burst of these needs being met, like with our activism and doing this "Cantastoria" or "Singing Story" educational presentation out at demonstrations and community events.  I use my acting skills, singing and movement, and it's a lot of fun doing it collaboratively with others in my group.  But now that we've rehearsed and got it up and running, it's just a matter of showing up and doing it here and there, every few weeks.  If I land more career counseling clients, I think that could meet some of this need... but I'd also like an ongoing project that I can really sink my teeth into.  I'm open to inspiration!

I will say that, even though we're not technically ttc'ing this month, I'm aware of my cycle timing.  I should be ovulating any day, and I think we will at least give any egg that might show up a sliver of a chance...

8/05/2013

DC Trip, Relationship, and TTC Plans

I'm still here!  Washington DC was amazing, visiting all the memorials - Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, MLK, and more - and the museums.  The American Indian museum was very cool - both the building and the art/artifacts!  The heat wasn't too bad, though we definitely got our "true summer" time in.  Northern California summer is nothing like the heavier, immersive heat of the East Coast.  We stayed in a great little hotel, very near his daughter.  I love hotel evenings and morning, chilling out and watching TV, etc., I'm weird that way.

The connection with his daughter couldn't have gone better.  She's so sweet, smart, and easy to get along with, and we all had some great conversations.  He hasn't had a lot of "normal" time with his daughter since he and his ex-wife's divorce when she was in her teens, so it was fun and special to stay the last night at her place and talk over a couple of beers on the rooftop.  We got to meet her boyfriend - smart and politically up and coming young guy - and spent the day together wandering around Gettysburg and the museum, learning a lot about the Civil War and the significance of that battle.

S and I got along fairly well - only a couple small rough patches - but the process of me working through my doubts about us is sort of hanging over our relationship right now.  I've spend some time reflecting, writing, talking to S, and plan to spend some more time over the next couple of days.  I love him a lot, of course, but I need to release the fears and judgments around whether our chemistry is "good enough" for me.

I'm really taking a look at the comparisons I have been making between him and our connection, and the guys I was with in my 20's and the greater passion and abandon I felt at that time.  I'm realizing that it's not fair to compare the two, and if I can't let that ago and accept all the wonderful things S and I have, including a good (if more controlled) love life, then the long-term future would be miserable for both of us.  And it's not just accepting the wonderful things, but the challenging parts too - recognizing they all make up who he and "we" are, and the more I can be present with everything, the more peace and happiness I can experience.  Please wish me luck, as it's a difficult emotional journey right now.

With regard to ttc, as you might imagine, this cycle ended with disappointment.  It wasn't too surprising, as we were unable to get an IUI in.  I ovulated quite early this month for some reason, perhaps the ongoing effects of last months medicated cycle.  So I just missed seeing the surge on my OPKs.  Oddly, my breasts were sore from ovulation through the entire luteal phase, which is never the case for me.  Any idea what was going on with that?  I did do an HCG shot, post ovulation.

I feel like my body is failing me.  We're taking this month off, during which I'll try to procure some (unopened) leftover Menopur from the great, underground fertility black market.  Then, the idea is to do a medicated cycle the following month, do just an IUI in the "bump" month after that, and if all that doesn't work, go in for fibroid surgery in late October or November.  I can't help but think that this huge object, which is distorting my cervix, might be affecting uterine receptivity (though it appeared outside the uterus on the MRI).  Plus it affects my health and comfort to some degree.

7/23/2013

Seeking Simplicity

Oh Lord, why can't things be more simple?

I have been testing twice a day since Saturday, still no positive on the OPKs (doing two types - no smiley face and no darker second line).  My body, on the other hand, seems to be telling me I ovulated yesterday morning.   My breasts have been sore for the last few days - they never normally get sore before my ovulation, but I understand this can happen.  I had a headache all day yesterday.  On an odd side note, I had a double dose of my normal sexy feelings on Friday/Saturday.  Lastly, my temperature went up a couple of tenths yesterday and a fraction of a tenth again today.  It seems like my hormones are still a bit revved up from the medicated cycle last month, but there seem to be indicators pointing to ovulating yesterday, don't you agree?

We were trying to avoid a lot of monitoring this cycle, but I concede the picture is much less clear without it.  I just wanted a simple positive OPK-do the trigger shot-go in for an IUI the next day cycle.  Is that too much to ask?  Yes, apparently it is.

We leave for our trip tomorrow mid-day.  If I don't get a positive OPK this evening, then we will forgo the IUI and hope for the best.  If I get a positive, then I'll do the trigger shot and we'll go for the IUI right before driving to the airport - which would be a bit crazy but worth it to bypass by difficult cervix and give things more of a chance.  S and I have been covering the bases with BDing, so if they can fight their way through...

On a more positive note, the talk with the NVC support person went well.  She suggested I might choose to celebrate the intense relationship I had with R in my early 20's, in which I was able to feel such excitement and abandon (which may lead to some letting go).  Considering how poorly things went in our second try a few years ago, these feelings are clearly more specific to that past relationship and who I/we were then, versus any lasting reality.

I can also continue to ask myself whether I can be present in my relationship with S and fully experience love with him, allowing all of who he is, including faults, and all our relationship brings to my life.  Am I able to open to that kind of love right now, in this moment?  Maybe not, but I hope that I am.

On his part, he had a realization that he was subconsciously testing me in certain ways, and he thinks that our honest conversation last night may well help tone down the fighting we can fall into.

7/20/2013

Struggling

I haven't been posting much because of being in a tough place with S right now.  He's coming over today to finish the conversation we started about the Lake Tahoe trip on Thursday night.  It was a productive conversation - one key insight emerged that, at our core, we both want the same thing, i.e. to stay connected and not be "abandoned" by the other while with family.  But our strategies and vision of what this looks like are very different and actually can work against each other. 

The fact that we devolve into such an ugly and painful place when we are emotionally triggered and fighting in these situations brings up some pretty intense fear in me.  I want us to have more discipline and ability to stay grounded in the face of stress (of which life dishes out plenty).  Even more than that, I long for us to have the ability to support one another through difficult times - to prop each other up versus tear each other down further. 

Yes, progesterone most definitely played a role.  But why couldn't he keep that in mind and cut me more slack, versus becoming angry and reactive?  I needed help to find my way back to my better self and to remember the bigger picture.  For a variety of reasons, including his own anxieties and fears, he couldn't help me with that.  Maybe my expectations of him are neither fair nor possible.

Wish us luck in our discussions.  We leave this coming Wednesday for a week-long trip to Washington DC to see his daughter and her boyfriend, and participate in a climate change rally.  We will need to be strong and resilient to make it through this trip and come out the other side in decent shape.  In addition to our discussions, I'm seeking individual support in the form of a Non-Violent Communication "Empathy Session" (basically a support session), which will hopefully take place today or tomorrow.  I have a sense that I need to grieve the parts of S which do not match my "ideal" version of a mate or of a relationship.  My continued internal judgments of him don't help the situation.

On the ttc front, I am still planning to start doing OPKs later today.  We may or may not do an IUI before we leave on the trip.  Otherwise, we will just do a trigger shot and try naturally, as mentioned.  I plan to go to acupuncture weekly again, starting when I get back from DC.

7/13/2013

Another Fail and Regrouping

As I thought would happen, the spotting got heavier last night, and this morning became full flow.  I cried on the phone with S this morning and made him share his feelings, too, though he was trying to steer clear of them.

The way my period started with so much dark spotting etc. over an entire day was very strange.  I so wish I could know exactly what happened - i.e. conception occurred but implantation failed due to egg quality.  That's what I think happened, but I'd like to know.  The obligatory pregnancy test this morning was stark white.

I'm drinking coffee right now and plan to indulge in multiple glasses of wine at the fundraising dinner we are attending later.

As mentioned, S's birthday was yesterday.  "Happy Birthday to You - this cycle didn't work!" right?  But I did have fun buying him a couple of cool, new shirts and making a chocolate birthday cake.  We are going to celebrate later before the dinner.

This morning, I put a call into the fertility center and am awaiting their callback.  We plan to do an unmedicated IUI cycle, with a trigger shot, in consideration of my difficult cervix and to take advantage of the possible "fertility bump" after doing a medicated cycle.

Any thoughts on whether I should take progesterone the entire luteal phase?  Progesterone supplements do not like me much, and the feeling is mutual.  I'm also curious what my natural progesterone response is at this point.  I'm thinking to maybe wait a week after ovulation, then test the level and go from there...

7/12/2013

What's going on?

I'm at 13dpo and pretty sure this cycle is a bust.  My period is starting so strangely, though.  I've had no cramping but have had quite a bit of dark spotting this morning with a, sorry for tmi, tiny bit of tissue and a couple red spots.  Also, my boobs are no longer sore but for a minute they had a burning sensation.  Very unusual. 

Anyone other ttc'ers had any of these wierd symptoms?

I'll let you know what happens as the day goes on.  I'm thinking it's likely I'll get my period sometime soon, sad to say.

It's S's birthday today.  We have been talking less this past week, trying to sort through what the h-e-double hockey sticks happened on the Tahoe trip.  Last night, we had dinner at a yummy noodle place and talked a bit.  It was good to see him, and I felt closer to him by the end of the evening.  Could progesterone be the main culprit?  It's hard to believe it is that powerful.

7/07/2013

Cycle Report: 8 dpo

The IUI went swimmingly, so to speak. ;-)  Although, perhaps not as painlessly... the doctor on duty was one I had never seen before and, to begin with, she tilted my head down/hips up somewhat, which was a new twist.  Then, she had trouble locating/positioning my cervix.  Finally, she poked the back of my uterus, causing me to cry out.  So, her technique was not the smoothest, yet she got the job done.  And I wondered afterwards whether poking my uterus might actually be a good thing, due to what I've heard about uterine biopsies increasing pregnancy rates.  What do you all think about that idea?  Oh, and S's counts were great, as they were previously. 

I've had a few signs over the past week, which could also be attributed to the progesterone I'm taking:

  • Sore breasts since the day after the IUI (even before starting the progesterone).
  • Very, very emotional - easy to anger and easy to cry.
  • My temps stair-stepped up the last couple of days and today were 98.74.  

Regarding the last sign, I'm wondering if progesterone is cumulative?  In other words, the longer I take it, the more my progesterone level rises?  I also think the multiple follicles had an additive effect on my hormone levels, both with estrogen in the follicular phase and now progesterone.

The emotional side of things has been pretty brutal.  S and I went to Tahoe to spend time with my parents, brother and family, and sister and family - plus my aunt and cousin - from Wednesday until this morning.  We had several arguments, which I felt very sad about because we can't seem to have an argument-free visit with family.

One good insight that came out of the arguing and our processing on the way home is realizing that we approach family visits and prioritize things differently.  To me, the most important thing is our connection to each other, and for him, the most important thing is contributing and interacting well with family.  I think the latter is important, also, but a lower priority compared to maintaining our own relationship.

In any case, it was clear that I was progesterone affected and became angry or upset much more easily.  If progesterone does accumulate, then this next week is going to be a wild ride.

We did have many good experiences on the trip, too, including some great time with my nieces and nephew.  Baby V let me hold her even though she had an ear infection and was fussy.  My oldest niece, J, and I colored together, which is always special, and my three-year-old nephew, E, sat on my lap on the boat ride and played cars.  We also ate some great food, enjoyed hanging out on the dock, and had a great dance party with the kids one night.  I wish I could see the kids more often.

6/28/2013

Good News and Rockin' CM



I have some good news!

I responded well to the 225 dose of Menopur and have five mature follicles!  Well, one of them is on the small side at 15mm, but the rest are 17-21mm.  I self-administered the trigger shot right there around 10:30am in the doctor's office.  S and I will be back there bright and early tomorrow morning - he will do his part at 8:15 and I'll close with the IUI at 10:15.  Maybe we'll have breakfast in SF in between appointments.

This cycle has been different than my other injectable cycles in so many ways:  first, I actually had to have two monitoring appointments before triggering, whereas I've only gotten to one in the past before my follicles ballooned up.  Second, I had follicles growing and keeping pace on both ovaries, when previously I had the synchronization problem and ended up triggering with only a couple of them mature.  Third, I'm doing the IUI on day 11... I'll have to go back and look, but I think that's at least a day or two later than previously.   Soooo, fingers crossed.

The other odd thing I wanted to share - which really may be TMI, and I will not be offended if you tune out now - is that, for the first time ever, I had the experience of egg-white CM literally "falling out" of me!  I had read about this in books but never experienced it.  On Tuesday night, as I was getting dressed after showering, I felt something, reached down, and caught it.  Yep, the stringy, egg-white stuff.  Crazy!  I was told it's presence is simply due to increased estrogen from multiple follicles, but, despite this scientific explanation, it still seems like a good sign.  S and I BD'd that night and Thursday night for good measure, so I guess it went to a small bit of use.  Does anyone know if CM matters at all with IUIs?  I'm thinking no... maybe just that my estrogen level is good?

Anyway, hope you all have a good weekend.  It's getting hot here; at least hot for Nor-Cal.

p.s. Congratulations to Jenny at Sprout!!!  Her and J's little guy, Seamus, has finally arrived!  Please send good thoughts that his jaundice resolves very soon.

6/24/2013

Roller Coaster Weekend and TTC Report

S and I had a jam-packed weekend with some ups... and some downs.

I'll get the downs over with:  Sunday afternoon was pretty much all down.  It had a the potential to be fun, but in reality, not so much.  We took BART down to the Giant's game and had a small fight on the way.  We were both stressed (he about his e-book, which is being impacted by Obama's climate change announcement, and me I don't know, maybe about the crappy weather? I was just in a mood.).  It was one of those dumb little fights about something someone says that hurts the other one's feelings or "triggers" them in some way. 

We got past that, exited BART, and actually had a fun little adventure riding in a behind-a-bike cart to the stadium.  Once we sat down, things were fine for a while - drinking beer, eating hot dogs, etc. - until I said a snipey comment that got S upset again.  Basically, I was a little irritable to begin with, as mentioned, and S was in his "jovial" social mode - which is great, but yesterday was just making me more irritable, I'm embarrassed to admit. 

So,  when S mentioned in conversation with his brother that I had been in the marching band in high school, I said something like, "That's a random comment!"  S was just trying to be nice and give me kudos, but my snipey self popped out.  I immediately apologized quietly to him and tried to smooth it over, but he was bothered and then brought it up again about 45 minutes later.  I thought at that point we had moved past it, so I was upset to learn he'd been stewing on it for so long.  Then, because people returned to their seats, we sat there in tension for a while before finally having an opportunity to talk about it again.  It just sucked to be in an already somewhat tense situation hanging out with family members I don't know well, and then to have S mad at me.  I ended up losing it and crying when we were almost home.

We did have a good conversation about it, which is something I really value about S and I (our ability to talk things through and try to grow), but I was worn out by that point.  Unfortunately, we had to pull ourselves together and head off to an evening commitment with a group - some friends and some new acquaintances - who are talking about forming an intentional community together.  I was leading exercises and basically co-facilitating, so I needed to be there.  I freshened myself up a bit, grabbed some apricots off the tree for the potluck, and we headed out.  It ended up being a good meeting so I'm glad we went.  S and I ended the evening with some pre-O, make-up baby dancing, so the day was not a complete flop. ;-)

The ups mostly happened on Saturday:  We first drove down to Santa Cruz for this event called "Woodies on the Wharf," which is a festival of old wood-paneled cars and surfboards.  S's dad is actually a famous old-school surfboard maker so he was carving a board and talking to fans. 

We took Zoey, which was CRAZY with that many people.  At first, I was super stressed out and regretting it, but it seemed like she mellowed a lot as we went along.  Our stop to eat and relax, while she was tethered to our table, helped out a lot.  She greedily gulped down water - it was a hot day - and even got to meet another Boston named "Bernie."  It was so cute to see them interacting, as he was older and liked meeting her but would growl a bit to put her puppy shenanigans in their place.  I have to admit, it's a relief to hear that Boston's tend to settle down a bit every six months or so.  I love Zoey, but she can afford some settling! 

Anyway, we had a good time at the wharf, then had a beautiful drive up the coast to an activist friend's party in SF.  The peeps there were generally younger, but nice, and we had a couple of drinks and snacks chatting and hanging out in the lovely little backyard.  One of the guys was a skateboarder and was super impressed when he heard about S's Dad (their company made skateboards, too); I think that was a nice moment for S to answer questions and talk with him.

We headed home finally in time for me to give myself my second Menopur injection.  S has helped me along, and tonight I think I'm ready to sail through it on my own.  I'm using Q caps this time, which help so much!  But adds a little bit in terms of needle switching.  I have my next monitoring appointment on Wednesday, so fingers crossed that I have three or more lead follicles! 

I guess it's clear by now that I had no cyst at the appointment on Friday.  Unfortunately, not a lot of apparent antral follicles, either - maybe six - but I'm still hopeful.  I apologized to the doc for being crabby on the phone about hearing the downer speech again, and he apologized, too, saying that sometimes he forgets who he's talked to about different subjects.  Kinda funny. 

He reiterated that there was a very low chance I could have gotten pregnant naturally, due to my curly-q cervix.  He added that maybe one percent of S's swimmers might have gotten through.  It's kind of sad to think back to all those months of trying naturally and how low the odds of success were.  The thing is, I know a pregnancy started a couple of times, based on really clear symptoms/cycle differences, so I guess those were exceptional months of trying!

I'll let you know how the Wednesday appointment goes...

6/20/2013

And another cycle begins...

Wah wah wah.  Turns out, at least in this instance, no signs are not good signs.  My luteal phase was the perfect and average length at 14 days.  Hormonally, my mood rapidly improved, so that helped cushion the blow.  Thanks for your supportive words.

I have my first monitoring appointment of this cycle tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.  I had a disheartening phone conversation with the doctor today, in which he again felt compelled to tell me about the ultra-low success statistics.  Yes, doctor, if I didn't get it the few times I heard it previously, the message is now indelibly imprinted in my brain by your heavy-handed third sharing of it. 

S, on the other hand, is being very supportive.  We're planning all the logistics of the medications, as well as re-committing to a more disciplined fertility-friendly diet.  No fried foods or simple carbs, and more greens!  We're going to plan our next day's eating the night before.  He's doing it to support me and because he wants to lose a little weight. 

I was curious if any of you ttcers out there felt like changing your diet contributed to fertility, or whether you tried to address food allergies?  I know I'm mildly allergic to dairy, and I especially feel it when I eat sour cream, ice cream, lots of cheese, etc.  I had actually been eating more of these foods since I'd heard that full-fat dairy helped fertility, but I'm questioning the benefits for me at this point, if it's making me phlegm-y.  S and I might even see a nutritionist/dietician friend of mine together.

Regarding the protocol:  Assuming I have no cyst, I'll do three ampules of Menopur, up from two the last cycle I did.  I keep hearing of various more complicated sounding protocols, but he seems to just think this simple approach is dandy.  In my first medicated cycle, I used Lupron, and the second I started with Femara, then did Menopur.  So, I guess just using Menopur at the higher dose is a somewhat new approach.  I'll take any positive thoughts you can send.

6/16/2013

11 dpo: All Quiet on the Uterine Front

This is the hardest part of a two-week wait, at least for me.  You are trying to sense any pregnancy signs, even when you tell yourself ten times not too, that it's a futile endeavor.  You know that if something's going to happen, it has likely started, but there's no way to know until a few more days pass (unless your taking an HPT, which I'm not).

I wish I had more encouraging news to report.  I've felt nothing of consequence in the uterine region.  The only clear signs I've felt so far are all common complaints of progesterone supplementation:
  • Breast soreness
  • Headaches
  • Irritable/emotional moods
I didn't feel the breast soreness until 9dpo, which is around when I started getting sinus-type headaches, too.  For those of you who were on progesterone, was this a common timeline for you?  No headache today but pretty bad on Friday and Saturday.

If my cycle doesn't start by Wednesday, I've been instructed to go in for a blood test.  If this cycle is a no go, then we'll see if I'm cyst-free for the next cycle.  If so, then S and I will go forward with injectable medication plus IUI.


6/06/2013

On the other side...

Writing this post from the other side.  Another IUI on the books.  Outcome yet unknown.

Everything went as well as it could have, I would say.  I went for the ultrasound Monday, still not having seen my LH surge.  The doctor saw two dominant follicles, one on the right and one on the left, and one smaller.  Measurements were 23 and 26mm, definitely triggerable size.  There is a chance that the one on the left was the cyst, which had grown some.  The doc thought it was likely new, though.  I gave myself the trigger shot that night at 11pm, having still not seen a surge.  IUI scheduled for Wednesday morning.

It was going to be at 11am, but I had a lunch meeting scheduled with a group of my birth mom's high school girlfriends, which was important to me and I wanted to try and make if I could (I will share about that visit in another post).  The fertility center was kind enough to move my appointment up to 10am and S was kind enough to get into the office to make his deposit an hour earlier, at 8am.  Thanks, baby!  He was so nervous about the whole thing, it was endearing.  Maybe I'm jaded after have done several of these.

I did get a little nervous the morning of the IUI... part of the reason is the importance of timing in a natural cycle.  S had to be on time, or else my procedure could be delayed.  I had to be on time or it might be detrimental to the sample.  We never saw each other, but our actions were very coordinated and interdependent!  We texted back and forth the whole morning.

The IUI went like clockwork.  I was told the doc I had trained most of the ObGyns in the East Bay.  I wouldn't be surprised because it was the quickest, most efficient IUI I've ever received.  Before the procedure, they made me look at the vial three times.  For some reason, I didn't want to see it!  I kept thinking, "Just get it inside of me!" lol  It was such a small amount, too, I was surprised.  I guess they separate out the swimmers from the fluid, so it reduces down a lot.  They told me that the numbers were great (120 million, and they want a minimum of 20 million) and that S gets an "A."  I told him, and he obviously felt good about it. :-)

I have a question for those of you who have had IUIs: Did they encourage you to lie down for a while afterwards?  I did with all my other IUIs, but at this place, they didn't seem to give much value to this practice at all.  He was like, "You can stay for a few minutes if you want, but if you have somewhere to be..."  I didn't actually end up staying too long but it was at least five or 10 minutes.

As I'm writing this, I just remembered I have to take my first progesterone pill tonight.  I'm not looking forward to the side effects, but I know mine has been low so I'm happy to have the help.  Here's hoping!

6/01/2013

Coming Out - plus TTC Update

Before I get to my ttc update, I wanted to share what's been going on in another area of my life...

Sooo, the last few months I've been working with a Coach, who is helping me reach out to potential clients as an independent Career Counselor.  My idea is that I will continue working with a community college or colleges, and have a few independent clients, as well.

Working independently versus under the umbrella of a school or an organization, feels newly liberating.  I had three independent clients at the end of last year/beginning of this year and worked with a few people when I lived in San Luis Obispo, as well.  When I met with them in independent counseling sessions, it allowed me to truly focus on the their current needs and allow the trajectory of their process to guide us in our work.

The only hitch to doing more of this work is that I needed to actually generate more of this work!  Marketing is not my forte, nor something I enjoy doing.  I am a bit shy with people I don't know, and I prefer deeper conversation to making small talk - a label which I think applies to most efforts to sell yourself or promote your business.  Handing out my business card to everyone I meet?  Ack, sounds incredibly awkward.  Can't people just find me by telepathy or osmosis or something?

Anyway, I've been working on developing confidence and overcoming my anxiety, which tends to block forward momentum.  In the last three months, I have scheduled meetings with my coach every couple of weeks.  My experience has been that in between our meetings, things tend to get done, even if I end up cramming and getting them done the day before.  Accumulating these successes had helped to build confidence.

Today, for example, I put the finishing touches on my "Coming Out Letter."  I hope I don't insult anyone referring to the process this way.  I know it's not nearly as life altering and potentially terrifying as coming out as gay (I saw a couple of my friends go through this and it was a huge life event), but it does feel vulnerable and like I'm exposing this new part of myself that is raw and sensitive.

We also did a visualization exercise, in which I connected with my "Captain," the part of me that is unconditionally loving, compassionate, clear, confident, and supportive.  Not surprisingly, another part of me that I call my "Sabateur" came up and tried to figuratively shank my Captain with negativity and judgments lol, but some significant insights and guidance came out of the process.  *As a side note, my Captain looked like a non-blue female Avatar, wearing animal pelts.  She was pretty cool.

In any case, I committed to send my letter out to at least a dozen friends, and I thought I might share my letter here with this community, as well (see below).  I would love to hear your thoughts before sending it out later this weekend.  Please also feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who needs career counseling.  I work over the phone, as well as in-person, and can be reached through this blog.  I have a website I can then share with people, too.  Thank you for your help!

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that I’m doing it: I am hanging out my shingle as a Career Counselor!  I’m excited to announce that I’m accepting new clients. I would like to offer you - and anyone that you refer - half off your first session.

As many of you know, my background includes over a decade of working in community colleges and non-profits as a Career and Academic Counselor.  My favorite part of the job has always been working with people to figure out what they most love to do and then helping them focus and use these passions (and package their related skills) in the work they do in the world. 

I wanted to share a little about what turns me on most about working independently... Working with people on my own allows me more freedom and creativity than when I work under the umbrella of a college or organization!  When I work with clients through my business, I feel that “magic” can happen as I follow insights and their inspiration to the next step, and the next, as they pursue their dreams.  Also, we are not held back by any government or grant requirements, and can set goals together based on their priorities and needs.

The clients I’m looking for include:

  • Recent Graduates
  • People in career transition needing guidance and someone “on their team.”
  • People wanting more independence or inspiration in their work life

In a bit more detail, my services include:

  • Providing assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the True Colors assessment to help my clients see and appreciate their strengths . . . which are then integrated into a dynamic counseling process connecting them, not just to their next job, but to their calling.
  • Experienced guidance repackaging and adding to a client’s work experience in order to launch them in a new, more inspiring direction.
  • Job search tips and strategies to save time and increase employer responses.  Includes resume review and editing.
  • Increasing client’s personal resiliency through building multiple income streams and a broad awareness of diverse skills and talents... as well as how these skills and talents can be combined to meet market/community needs.
  • Green career counseling:  Providing information and guidance on careers that help people and our planet thrive.

My session fees are reasonable and include a sliding scale fee structure.  In addition to the introductory offer mentioned above, for the next three months, I will also offer 20% off the total if clients sign up for three or more sessions.  Due to the cumulative effect of our work together, and depending on a client’s goals, I suggest a minimum of three sessions, and up to 10 or more for longer-term transitions and support.  I’m also happy to meet with someone one time, as well.
 

If you need support and direction in a career transition, or if you want to feel more inspired in your work, please contact me.  Also, will you consider sending this note on to anyone you know who might be interested?  I really appreciate your support. 

Heartfully,


Kristina B., MA
Career Counselor



TTC UPDATE:
I'm on Day 9 of my current cycle, in which I took Femara again Days 3-7.  As mentioned in a previous post, S and I decided to try Femara again because I had such a good response to this dose last time.  I have purchased the Ovidrel trigger and the progesterone supplements, as well.

I was going to go out of town this weekend for S's nephew's graduation in San Diego, but if I would have gotten my LH surge on Saturday or Sunday, I would have had to go to a random fertility clinic in So. Cal.  Doable but awkward.  Also, we decided we wanted to save our money for ttc and a trip we're taking to DC to see his daughter at the end of July.  So, I'm on my own this weekend, with plans to meet a friend Saturday for lunch and go dancing Sunday morning, but the rest of the time plans to work on creative projects, read, and lay in the sun.

Starting today (Friday), I am testing every morning with my new digital OPK.  Wow, I will say it IS a lot easier with that little circle or smiley face reading.  Very clear.  When I get the positive, then I call Pac.ific Fertility Center and go in for an ultrasound.  If I don't get a positive until Monday (or later), I definitely go in mid-day Monday for my scheduled ultrasound.  I will likely do the trigger shot that day, with IUI to follow on Tuesday.  S is nervous about the IUI.  He's trying to follow all the rules to prepare and asking me about timing etc.; it's cute.

Finishing this post up on Saturday, Day 10.  No smiley face this morning, which is a good thing.  The earliest we would do the IUI is Monday, so S will not be at risk of cutting his family visit short.  I hope tomorrow is a negative, as well, so I don't have to go in for a monitoring appointment tomorrow morning by myself. 

We are definitely excited to be trying some new things this time.  I don't think I mentioned, however, that I went in for the first monitoring appointment last weekend and the doctor saw what he thought was a cyst on my left ovary.  Damn left ovary.  But he thought it would likely resolve, and that there was no health risk to going forward, so we decided to keep on keeping on.  I hope the risk pays off, but there is a chance the IUI will be cancelled if the cyst interfered with ovarian stimulation.  Fingers crossed!

5/20/2013

Post- Weekend Update

I'll start with my uneventful ttc update:  I am on day 11 or 12dpo... No signs except some breast soreness and stomach upset, which could be attributable to other things.  Post-ovulation, my temperature rose to the 97.9 range then up to the 98.2 range, then back down to 97.9 for the last three days.

My IUI phone consult is tomorrow at 4pm.  As mentioned, I'll take Femara again, and S and I will do an IUI for the first time.  This will be my 7th IUI, but all others were with frozen swimmers.  S feels uncharacteristically optimistic because of my having the polyps removed and because we found, and will now be bypassing, my "curleyque" cervix.  I will let you know if anything interesting happens in the consult tomorrow.

In other news...Over the weekend, S and I went to Sonoma, but not for wine tasting this time (we tasted some wine but not at the wineries!).  The Transition Town regional group for Northern California had a gathering, for which I was on the planning committee, with attendees from many Transition Initiatives throughout the region.

The getting to know you exercise I led in pairs went well, and people didn't want to stop talking when it was over - a sign they enjoyed it I hope.  They took turns answering two open-ended questions, which I now invite you to answer in comments:  "What are some of your favorite things about living on this earth?" and, "What are things you enjoy making and doing?" :)

We did two other planning and discussion activities and heard from a few people about successful Transition projects they had implemented, including "Bay Bucks," alternative currency.  After the gathering, we all went to a local woman's house and had a fabulous vegetarian dinner she had prepared for us, as we drank wine on the deck overlooking Sonoma's Valley of the Moon.  A feast for the senses...

We all got quite tipsy and shared personal stories; a big shift from our normally activist-focused time together.  An example of veering quite definitively out of "work" mode:  I offered to set up the Executive Director of Transition US on a date and was grilling her on her preferences in men.  hehe

Zoey came with us, too, and did very well as par usual.