The Two Week Wait

I just purchased a pregnancy test – actually I purchased two.  

When I went into the pharmacy I had no idea where to find pregnancy tests.  When I finally found the tests, I stood there shocked at all of the different tests I could buy and the range of prices for pregnancy tests.  Friends have told me that the pregnancy tests from the dollar store work just as well but I decided that this first time I wanted to have the experience of going into the pharmacy to buy the test.

While searching for the perfect test a couple came up beside me and started discussing which condoms they should buy. Yes – pregnancy tests are located just beside the condoms.  The whole situation felt so odd – the couple was trying to use something to prevent pregnancy while I was searching for a test that would hopefully tell me that I was pregnant.

When I went up to the cashier I thought she’d give me a smile or do some sort of price check on my pregnancy test.  Isn’t that what happens in the movies? Instead, she just scanned the tests and asked me for $25.00.

It has taken everything in me over the past fourteen days not to purchase a pregnancy test because I am currently going through the dreaded two-week wait.  The two-week wait is the time between my IUI (sperm inside the uterus) and my period.

For the past two weeks, I have felt everything from anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, and pure joy.  Basically, I’ve felt like I was on a rollercoaster watching my emotions from afar.

Sure I am going for blood work tomorrow to confirm whether or not I am pregnant but the thought of a nurse from Mount Sinai telling me whether or not the IUI was successful makes me too damn nervous.  I want to feel like I am somewhat in control and won’t be as sad if the nurse calls and I already know (according to my pregnancy tests) that it didn’t work. My goal is to take the pregnancy test tomorrow morning just before I go for blood work.

Plus, my sweet sweet sister is meeting me at the fertility clinic tomorrow.  By then, I will know my fate. After I get my blood test she has promised me an afternoon of drinking (if I am not pregnant) or a celebratory lunch (if I am pregnant).

So I’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks and I want to pass on that information to you. I’ve made A LOT of mistakes over the past two weeks and I can’t help but laugh at them.

Here are some of my favourite moments from the past two weeks:

  1. Morning Sickness

The day after my IUI I was feeling really sick to my stomach.  Because I am so freakin’ silly, I googled “morning sickness” and believed that it could be possible that my pregnancy symptoms were already happening.

FACT: Morning sickness usually starts at week six.

2) The Perfect Announcement

I spent hours trying to craft the perfect pregnancy announcement.  How would I tell the people that I love the most that I am expecting (if I am)?

It all started with Pinterest which quickly moved into Etsy.  I have spent $100.00.

FACT: I write a freakin blog and post everything on Instagram.  Anyone who has been following the blog/Instagram knows the exact date I am going for my blood tests.  Plus, my family knows when I will know that I am pregnant. How the hell will this be a surprise?

Please also note that everything I ordered from Etsy did not show up in time.  If I find out that I am pregnant tomorrow, I am screwed.

My brother-in-law was also kind enough to say that he will create a movie of me telling people.  How exciting will this movie be? Everyone knows that is happening. If I hold up my phone, everyone will know what I am about to say. Why did I start a blog and Instagram again?

3) Physical Symptoms

Six days after my IUI, I thought I had a UTI (urinary tract infection).  I googled “UTI after an IUI” and google told me that this was a symptom of pregnancy.  I started crying because this could be a sign.

FACT:  What in the actual hell?  Google should not be used at any time.

4) Leading Other People Into Your Madness

Ten days after my IUI, I started spotting.  I quickly messaged a friend who just had two kids.  I asked her if she experienced spotting and she did with one of the kids.  She said it was called “implantation bleeding” so I started thinking that I could be pregnant.  I got her so worked up and excited that we were both trying to figure out if I should just do a pregnancy test on day 10.

FACT:  Day 14 is the only acceptable day for a pregnancy test. It is best to leave everyone else out of your crazy.

5) Act Like You Are Pregnant

I cut all caffeine (also did this because of anxiety), stopped drinking, and started googling everything.  

Before long, google started figuring out my pattern which was “Can I eat _____ while pregnant.”

FACT:  Calm down.  Just take each day as it comes because you don’t need to become a pregnancy expert overnight.

6) Signs

This is a HUGE one.

The following “signs” have happened this week.

  1. I received a call that my number one choice for sperm donor had finally become available and I was off the waiting list. Sign: This must mean that my IUI didn’t work.
  2. My Etsy packages did not arrive.  Sign: This must mean that I am not pregnant.
  3. Two friends told me that they were pregnant this week.  Sign: This must mean that pregnancy is somehow “in the air” and will happen.

FACT:  Stop looking for signs.  If there is supposed to be a sign, you shouldn’t have to go looking for it.

7) Fertility Clinic

I called the fertility clinic twice this week.  What on earth? The first time I called to find out when I could start my next IUI and if I needed to take a break trying to take fertility meds.

The second time I called was because I was spotting.  Please note that they said this could “mean anything.”

FACT:  Nurses at the fertility clinic are BUSY.  Just wait until your appointment to ask all of the questions.

8) Plans

Somehow I thought it would be best to cancel all of my plans and just be by myself.  I didn’t know if I’d be anxious or sad.

FACT:  Get outside and out of your head.  On Monday night I reconnected with friends to watch the premiere of the Bachelorette (don’t judge) and had the best night in a LONG LONG time. Why are you hiding?

9) Distractions

I read two books over the past two weeks – both psychological thrillers.  They allowed me to escape my own world and forced me to solve a mystery.

I also become so invested in a variety of shows on Netflix.

Fact: “Watching You” by Lisa Jewell is great, “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris is not as great.

Wine Country, Dead to Me, Brene Brown’s Special, Amy Schumer’s Special, and the new Ted Bundy Movie are all great.

*Please note that these are not actual facts but to me, they are facts.

10) I am One Strong Badass

I have not had a panic attack over the past two weeks and have been able to sleep again at night.  My anxiety has been A LOT to handle but I have somehow been able to make it through the past two weeks.

I was especially worried about how I’d feel over Mother’s Day and I made it through the day.

FACT: I am a badass and have the best friends and family members who have continuously sent me the sweetest messages. Everyone is so kind and wants the best for me. I am a super lucky woman.

So next week, my goal is to share the news with you.  Please also know that only 10% – 20% of IUI’s are successful for women over 35. You will either hear really exciting news or will see a series of pictures of me drinking on patios in Toronto.

Thanks again for all of your support!

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.

Telling Family and Friends

Since telling people I am hoping to be a Mom, and since writing this blog, I usually get asked the same question, “how did everyone react when you told them?”

To me, the question is really asking “how were you able to move past the stereotypes and the boxes that were created for you by society?” AND  “How were you able to tell the people you love most that you were going to rebel against the stereotype of the perfect heterosexual couple complete with 1.6 children?”

Growing up, I was always the “good kid.”  People often remarked at my politeness and kindness.  Part of me looks back at that person and thinks “girl, did you even have a personality?”  All I wanted to do was to please everyone around me. 

Now, at the age of 38, I have a personality but often find myself wanting to please everyone in my existence and to put everyone’s needs ahead of my own.  For one of the first times in my life, I am saying “screw what society tells me I need to do” and “I have this feeling within me that is so strong that I am willing to run the risk of people not accepting me or respecting my decision.” So what happens when the people pleaser who lives off praise, jumps out of the box and forces the people I love to live outside the box?

A lot of growth. 

A lot of tears.

A lot of pain.

So here’s what happened when I told my family and friends that I was going to be a Solo Mom.

While I was considering being a Choice Mom, I wanted to see if my family would support me. I guess deep down, I was trying to gauge some sort of vibe from my family members about having a baby on my own.

A lot of conversations went like this:

  1. “My friend is going to be a Choice Mom. What do you think?”
  2. “This dating scene is hideous.  Sometimes I just wonder if I should just use a man for sperm so that I could have a baby”
  3. “Do you think a woman could be a single Mom and live in Toronto?” 

My family is pretty smart but nobody really called me on what I was doing – testing the waters to see if they would disown me if I became a Choice Mom. To be honest, not all conversations were pretty.  Some left me pretending I wasn’t crying or cleaning up dinner plates when the family was together so that I could leave the room.

Overall, I bet I asked about fifty awkward questions that were really me just asking them “would you still love and accept me as part of the family if I did something so outside my comfort zone and your comfort zone?”

Phone Call 1: Sister One

This is where I started.  I told my sister over the phone about wanting to begin the process of being a Choice Mom and she said she supported me and then moved to a different topic.

About a month ago I asked her why she responded that way and she said something like “I knew it was coming.  You talked about it and dropped hints all the time.”

I also encouraged sister one to get sister two on board. I remember telling sister one that she could tell sister two.

Phone Call 2: Sister Two

Sister two has two beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, and a beautiful home. She is also known as the logical one so I was really worried about getting her approval.

Her first reaction was to support me which felt amazing.  Then it turned to a bunch of questions that I was not able to answer.

This resulted in me feeling overwhelmed, sobbing, and barely able to make a coherent sentence. 

Since then, she has been so supportive and the questions have stopped because I just don’t know the answers to the questions.  I have planned as much as I can but I have no idea what my possible baby will be like.

Phone Call 3: Mom

I know that I called my Mom before she went on a big trip with my Dad and I remember crying through a lot of the phone call. She was super kind and I remember suggesting that she tell Dad on their trip. That way, she could put the feelers out and possibly get my Dad used to the idea so that when they came back from the trip, he could possibly be on board.

Family Conversation:

Once my parents got back from their trip, we met at my sister’s house and my parents told us about their trip.  My Mom had a couple glasses of wine and just stated “Sarah, I asked your dad about you having a kid on your own.  He said that if it makes you feel as happy as you three girls have made him feel, he supports your decision.”

I just sat there and cried and everyone was there – including my Dad.  My Dad’s approval was the one I was most scared to get. My Mom then said something like “I think I am going to cry” and then someone changed the conversation.

Since then, there have been A LOT of conversations and I mean A LOT.  We have discussed a lot of really tough subjects – moving back home for a bit, paying for daycare, picking out a sperm donor, genetic testing, making my story so public, etc.

My poor family worries for me about the potential backlash of me being so candid.

After I told my family, I started telling some extended family members.  From there, I told my friends, my co-workers, etc.  Before I started the blog, I bet about 20-30 people knew what was happening. Their reactions really ranged – some people didn’t say anything when I told them, others screamed in excitement, a few got emotional. Overall, nobody in my close group of family/friends said anything negative. 

The blog is the topic that really divides people.  I’d say about 25% of my friends/family have said things that haven’t been 100% supportive because they are worried about me being so open at such a vulnerable time. 

Now, every time I tell my story, I feel more comfortable and secure with my decision. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done if my family said that they didn’t support me if I were to have a baby on my own.  If I didn’t have a sister who was my appointment partner – there with me every time I got a result for something.  If I didn’t have another sister who was always checking in and saving every baby item and clothing item for me.  If I didn’t have parents who said “move in with us and stay here as long as you need us.”

The other main person is this process who has helped me maintain my strength is my therapist. She helps me conquer my fears and the inner voices that leave me up at night questioning this decision. She forces me to examine stereotypes and teaches me how to deal with non-enthusiastic people. 

So could I have done this on my own without a supportive family and an incredible therapist?  I have absolutely no idea and feel blessed that I don’t have to deal with that right now. 

Update: Thank you for letting me vent last week about the reaction I was having in finding a sperm donor.  You allowed me to write down some of my most personal thoughts and the whole experience was very cathartic.  Perhaps that was all I needed – a place to just grieve that I would not experience the life I had pictured. For whatever reason, I no longer feel stuck in finding a sperm donor and my goal is to find one this week!

Thank you: Please know that writing this blog is helping me so much through this process but I want it to help you as well.  Perhaps you are thinking about becoming a Mom, worried about the fertility process, wanting to best support friends/family through the process, etc.  If you have any questions at all, please just message me. If there is anything you have wondered about and want me to write a blog about, please let me know.