Hanging On?

Friday night I met up with a friend who is going through a lot. I felt as though I could be her confidante and that in listening to her, I’d be able to provide her with some peace.  She talked about work and motherhood and then the conversation turned towards me. Through tears in my eyes, I started to unload everything including all of my fears about having a baby on my own.

I was so angry with myself – she needed me and I liked to be the one who would help others, listen and never judge.  Yet I couldn’t listen because I could just feel the anxiety bubbling over in me and I was just so grateful that she was there. She sat there looking at me full of so much love and compassion and my words just kept spilling out.

This week I received the news I had been longing to hear – Mount Sinai has funding so my first IUI will be in the next couple of weeks. When the nurse gave me this information I felt as though I was floating on a cloud. This was going to happen – I was going to be a Mom.

Within 48 hours the euphoric feeling I was experiencing turned into questions which turned to fear.  Where would I live after giving birth? How would I afford rent? When would I get pregnant? Could I get pregnant? Could I still maintain my friendships if I had a baby? How would I find other Moms to communicate with?

With every question came more anxiety until there I sat on Friday night, unable to take a breath or a pause in the conversation because I was so just full of fear.

Thankfully my friend helped to settle my fears and we both established the fact that nobody really has their shit together. People may appear that way, but everyone is just trying to get by.

On Saturday morning I had plans to have brunch with friends. As soon as we met, we started talking about fertility and anxiety and I started to struggle. Now I was listening to them discuss their anxiety and fears in pregnancy/motherhood and I could feel my own fears/anxiety increasing. Before going through this process, I could have listened to this for hours on end but for whatever reason, this conversation was creating a reaction in my body.

With a strong therapist and a good family doctor, I was slowly able to wean myself off my anxiety meds in December. At first, people congratulated me and I congratulated myself for still being able to function off the medication.  I’m a huge believer in the importance of medication though and it was very difficult to go off the medication after about ten years of meds, eight of this specific anxiety medication.

But I feel like an imposter being congratulated because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stay away from anxiety meds. Sometimes I feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread. Other times, I feel like I am in full control and that going off meds was actually a blessing because it forced me to set boundaries and be able to say “no.”

In mid-conversation during a beautiful brunch, I felt a panic attack coming on so I started to try and distract myself – making jokes, looking around the room, taking deep breaths.  Nothing seemed to be working and I could feel the anxiety forming inside of me. My heart started beating faster and my body kept sending a message saying “danger, danger. Run. You need to run fast. Get out now and run.” Yet, in looking around the room, everyone looked so peaceful as they were enjoying their coffee and pancakes.

How could I be having such an internal struggle while the scene was so peaceful?  The outward me looked so calm and collected but my body was at war with my brain. Was there anyone else in the room looking calm while on the verge of a panic attack?

When I went off the meds, my doctor gave me five 0.5 mg of lorezapram that I am allowed to take if I feel a panic attack coming on.

I took the pill, excused myself to the washroom and sat in the washroom talking to myself.

“You are okay. Take deep breaths.  You have got this.” Saying my positive affirmations in the mirror seemed to help a bit and I realized that if I were in the washroom any longer, my friends would have known something was up.

When I got back to the table, we were discussing fertility treatments and I couldn’t take it any longer.

I sat there trying to come up with an excuse to literally run out of the restaurant.  I made a couple of jokes, downed my mimosa, and kept waiting for that moment where I was going to make an excuse to get home.

It’s crazy because the place I feel most anxious is out for a meal.  It’s because I have absolutely no distractions and just have to focus on what people are saying around me. In the past, I have used alcohol to help calm me which makes me realize that it is not a flight or fight situation and that I am okay. Now, I have realized that I need to deal with myself as I will not be drinking alcohol much longer.

After many more deep breaths, I was able to spread a calmness in my body (that or my meds kicked in).

Then I just kept thinking “holy hell. Are all of us just hanging on by a thread?” The more I get together with my friends, the more I am realizing that most of us are struggling and I mean really struggling with our mental health.  We try and hide it but it is present and it seems that the women that I surround myself with (strong, intelligent, communicative, independent, brave, beautiful, honest and empathic), keep discussing how we are all trying to hang on but that we may actually need some help.

Then I wondered if we are all like the people in the restaurant – appearing calm and numb when several of us just want to run away?

After brunch, I headed home and spent the rest of the day on my couch, in my pajamas, wrapped up in my favourite blanket. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that life is tough. Fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood are also fucking tough. Like beyond tough. Yes, I know that all of these things are so rewarding and beautiful but they are also tough and full of uncertainty.

The more I go on this whole journey to motherhood, the more I really see that mothers are these incredible beings that don’t even seem human. Somehow they freakin hold it all together but I am starting to wonder, how many of them are in need of help and just trying to hang on?

Ready, Set, Impregnate?

As of Wednesday, my sperm vials are all officially at the sperm donor clinic in Toronto.

Buying sperm reminds me of how there is always that one product at Christmas that everyone wants to buy.  People fight over it, go to the store to buy it, even try to buy it online and it eventually sells out. Who knew sperm was one hot commodity? I can’t believe I am comparing sperm to a Christmas toy that everyone wants.  What is happening to me?

Maybe sperm donors should be paid in Canada.  They are paid in the United States but are not paid in different countries around the world.  I was lucky to have a bit of choice because some women from other countries have mentioned on Instagram that they have had 1-3 choices. THREE. Luckily I had about ten options and that was after I refined the search (Open ID Donor, CMV negative, etc).

So now I am just waiting.  I have one vial of sperm at the Mount Sinai Fertility Clinic and I have two vials waiting for their “shipping dates” from the sperm donor clinic in Toronto to Mount Sinai (where I get the procedure).

I am just waiting for day 1 of my cycle and will call into Mount Sinai.  Fingers crossed that they have funding. If so, I have to wait until day 15 or something to have my IUI (sperm placed inside my uterus).  After that, I will wait two weeks to find out if I am pregnant. PREGNANT. Gosh, that word feels great to write.

If everything goes according to plan, I’m going to try three IUI’s total (one in May, June, and July.)

Stats show that only 20-25% of women get pregnant from their first IUI.  Fertility stats are absolutely terrifying me right now. In having an Instagram account, I have become part of this amazing group of people who write about their fertility experiences.  I see the numbers. I see that so many of them struggle so much. Perhaps I am just protecting my heart and preparing myself for the worst but hoping for the best.

My social worker and my fertility doctor both say that three is the lucky number and that many women get pregnant on their third try with IUI.

So even though I may get pregnant on try one or two, I have paid $2,490.00 for all three vials. At Can-Am Cryservices they will buy back sperm but I ended up choosing Repromed because they had a vial in stock of my donor and knew they could get the other two vials quickly).

So it is now all up to the universe.  

I am also trying to understand what is making me so emotional these days (and I am an emotional person to begin with).  I don’t know if it is stress or excitement (maybe both) but I can cry at a random song playing, a child walking down the street, and/or a baby that I see in his mother’s arms.  The bottom line is that I am a mess and I am not even on fertility drugs yet.

Friends around me keep getting pregnant and it is making me more and more excited.  Maybe I will be off on maternity leave with them. Time will tell.

I also don’t know if I will be emotionally prepared to have all of my IUI’s in a row.  It seems like it may be a lot to find out that I didn’t get pregnant and I may have to lean on some of my amazing friends and family (with some wine and ice-cream) when/if this happens.  This may start to be too much and I may need a break.

Overall, I’m also so freakin excited.  

I could know by the end of summer if I am able to get pregnant through IUI.  Can you even imagine?

No matter what happens though, this experience has been a blessing.  It’s helped me to connect to people I haven’t talked to in a while who have reached out when they saw my facebook status saying that I was trying to have a baby on my own and starting a blog.  It’s honestly been like a public school/high school reunion complete with both my peers and the teachers that I have adored.

It’s also been a University reunion as so many kind friends have reached out with stories of their own supporting me in every way possible.  

Friends and family have also been there for me so much and have provided so much encouragement. They ask thoughtful questions and also say the most beautiful things.

There have also been people who have said some hurtful things but it keeps making me stronger. I have to thank them because each time I hear something negative, it only makes me want to pursue this more and only makes me better able to handle negativity in my life.

I just feel really lucky.

I feel blessed because of science (lucky that this is even an option).

I feel blessed that I am lucky enough to be able to afford the fertility fees.

I feel blessed that I am becoming emotionally stronger every day.

Thank you for reading this and for being there for me.  Even reading this shows that you support me and this decision. I REALLY hope I have some exciting news to share with you really soon.