Mom Culture

Hi y’all! How is everyone’s new year so far? Anyone feeling completely jaded? I am!

One thing I noticed is that I have a new trigger, woohoo! And by trigger, I mean seeing something that conjures up negative feelings and has the potential to ruin my day. Up until now, my biggest trigger was pregnant women. Trust me- baby pictures, pregnancy/birth announcements, baby showers and gender reveals are no walk in the park, but there is something about seeing a pregnant woman that honestly breaks my heart. Clearly these women are doing nothing wrong or offensive. It’ just that all of the happiness they are feeling, I am feeling the same intensity but in sadness, jealousy, bitterness and frustration. I have never carried a pregnancy to term, I wish I knew what that was like. I wish these women knew how lucky they are. Do they know hoe lucky they are? It’s funny, I know exactly how I feel in my head but I am having trouble articulating it.

Anyway, I realized a new trigger that I have, and it makes sense- MOM CULTURE. I don’t know if that’s an existing term or if I invented it. But when I say mom culture, I mean making EVERYTHING about being a mom, mostly on social media (and in real life too). Here’s an example. An acquaintance of mine recently had her first kid. She posted a picture of herself and some friends out to dinner. She captioned it “mom’s night out.” AND THAT DROVE ME CRAZY. It’ hard enough I had to see her other pregnancy related content. Now that she finally has some “intertiltiy friendly” pictures to share, she has to bring it back to the fact that she is a mom? Of course she is probably over the moon to be a mother, I don’t want to stop her from feeling this way. But for me, someone who doesn’t have any children and would do ANYTHING to be a mom, it just makes me so sad when I see all these moms flaunting their new status. Nothing against them at all, I promise. It’s a trigger. Makes me sad. That’s it.

Another example- someone I follow asked on social media if anyone gets their kids gifts for valentine’s day. An innocent question, but that is assuming that everyone reading that has kids. Clearly I don’t have kids, so just one more thing that doesn’t apply to me. Wonderful.

And then other moms join in. They call each other “mamma.” They talk about their growing families. Label themselsves as proud working moms or stay at home moms- because mom is their new identity. They post mom-related croud-sourcing questions. I hate croud-sourcing in general, but I don’t need to be asked where I can find the most sustainable, organic, chemical free crib.

I’m not singling out moms for being moms. But seeing the strong mom community presence is just a reminder of how badly I want to be included in this mom club, and how, through no fault of my own, I am still excluded.

IVF! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

After what seemed like an eternity, I FINALLY started and completed an IVF cycle. If you thought TTC itself is a roller coaster, IVF feels like all of that condensed into one month. I have a lot of commentary on IVF, so I will break it down by category:

The Meds

This part was not that bad for me. I am by no means minimizing the fact that it can be very hard to deal with multiple daily injections! What helped me was that I kept telling myself these medicines will hopefully help me achieve my dream of parenthood, so what’s a pinch here and there for a few days? I also had a relatively simple medication regimen, which helped. For about 9 days I took Follistim daily. The needle was small and thin, and injections were easy. Then, I took ganirelix for the last 3 days. A warning about ganirelix- the needle does not go in easily! So this was not particularly fun. Also, after injecting, I would get a pink rash which would go away in an hour. Annoying, but I’ve handled worse. I did not end up taking Menopur this time around because my body made enough LH on its own. Then there was the trigger shot- an intramuscular injection in the butt. This was the most daunting for me, A) because the needle was quite long, and B) because my dear husband faints at the sight of blood and needles, so I was somehow supposed to inject this myself! I was pretty nervous about this one. I was able to get the needle in, but I couldn’t hold it and inject at the same time, the angle was off. My husband mustered up some courage and was able to help me inject! He then pretended to faint after which was not funny.

The Retrieval

The retrieval was not so bad and also very bad at the same time! I was put under conscious sedation for this, so I was awake. But I felt almost everything! I’m not going to lie, it was painful. The pain was bearable, but having to be in pain for 20 minutes straight starts to become unbearable. My advice- ask for general anesthesia. The clinic I go to performs the retrievals in the office and so general wasn’t an option for me, but boy I wish it was. I will say that there are ladies out there that had their retrieval under conscious sedation like me and didn’t feel any pain at all. But I will also say that I was talking to a colleague of mine who also had her retrieval under conscious sedation, and it was painful for her too. After the retrieval, I did have some pelvic pain, but was able to keep it at bay with some motrin. I wish I didn’t have to do this again, but I do (see “The Numbers”). If I know that this will get me what I want, it will be worth it.

The Numbers

This is tricky. On the one hand, more is better, because the more follicles are mature, the more eggs are collected, the more embryos are made. But on the other hand, “all you need is one.” Not all eggs are necessarily “good” eggs (Ugh I hate using terms like good and bad). As you go on with each phase of the IVF process, the numbers go down and down. Here are mine for example: I had like 23 follicles the day I triggered. Great right? Granted they were different sizes, so not all will be retrievable, I get that. On retrieval day, they were only able to collect 8 eggs (not all my follicles had eggs in them). Of the 8, only 4 were mature. Of the 4, 3 fertilized properly. Of the 3, 1 made it to blastocyst phase. ┬áSo of course I am so happy that I have something, but sad that I don’t have more in case this one God forbid does not work out. So before doing the transfer, I will be doing another round of IVF (stim + retrieval) which will hopefully yield more blastocysts.

The Emotions

This is by far the hardest part for me, not just during IVF but throughout my whole TTC journey. No amount of physical pain can match the heartache that I have been going through. That being said, the beginning part of IVF was great! I was feeling very hopeful, and things were going very smoothly. I downloaded a meditation app and meditated each night for some extra calmness. I was eating well, sleeping well and feeling well. ┬áThen the retrieval. I was excited and nervous. After the retrieval, happy that eggs were retrieved, disappointed that more weren’t retrieved, and anxious about how many would make it to the blastocyst phase. Then the negative emotions returned. Can something finally work for me please? How much longer do I have to go through this? WHY do I have to go through this? What did I do to deserve this? I’m still roller coastering through these emotions. I have my good days and bad days, but the best thing to do is to find your supports, turn to them, and remain hopeful.