My 3-year TTC anniversary is coming up in August, but I feel a bit like a fraud for saying that. We haven't actually TTCed for the past year in any sense of the word. No timed intercourse, no IUIs, no IVF. I did deal with healing from a miscarriage, waiting on our lost baby's chromosome testing results, and undergoing two surgeries with sucktastic post-op recoveries. And yet, even after a horrible year for my body, I find myself trying to write off the past year as if it doesn't count as time TTCing. Part of it is not wanting to seem like I'm fronting around other IFers.
I've heard lots of sentiments similar to mine in the IF community; IFers who have taken breaks and imply that their months not spent TTCing don't count. Friends with PCOS have said that since they didn't ovulate during the first year of trying, it didn't actually count as trying. Or they only ovulated 3 times in a year so somehow, implying that they only get credit for being in pain part of that year.
The pain-minimizing phenomenon really jumped out at me at the first meeting of my infertility support group. We started off introducing ourselves and telling everyone where we were in the process. I was about 1.5 years in at the time and hadn't started treatments, while everyone else had 3-4 years of TTC under their belts, often with IVF. I felt like a fraud—who was I to claim I'd suffered when these women had been through so much?
Although I saw them as legitimate IFers, the group members were creative at finding ways to minimize their own struggles. They'd say things like, "We've been trying for 4 years but we weren't really trying that entire time—we took time off between treatments." When it was my turn, I found myself saying, "I've only been trying for one and half years and we haven't started treatments yet. We're early in the process." I'd had a miscarriage and a laparoscopy, but I needed them to know that I realized I wasn't in their league, pain-wise.
Although pain minimizing drives me a bit crazy—we've all been through a lot—all pain isn't equal. Mali wrote a great post about this recently, emphasizing that this doesn't mean we shouldn't grieve, just that we need to keep some perspective about it. So true.
I talked about perspective recently with my therapist, who says there are two ways to look at a personal struggle. To paraphrase and probably oversimplify it, you can concentrate on how much worse you have it than everyone else, or you can focus on how others have it worse than you. Clinical outcomes, however they were measured, tend to be better for those who concentrate on how others have it worse.
Lately, even with my ongoing pain, I've mostly been thinking lately about how others have it worse. I'm in a gratefulness phase, which has definitely not always been the case since we started trying. I feel like I have a pretty good perspective about all of this, but I'm not going to minimize what I've been through. I'm 3 full years into TTC and it still sucks.
On the topic of gratefulness, you all constantly surprise me with the thought and love you put into writing comments. You may not be huggers and I'm not even super huggy myself, but your comments feel like big hugs coming through the screen. I tear up while I read them and reread them when I need support. Thank you.
I welcome feedback if I'm saying something ridiculous, too. If I need to have my thoughts rearranged, let me know. In a nice way. :)
I'm going on the Pill in the hope that calming down some of my monthly hormonal fluctuations will decrease my pain. An additional benefit is that it's birth control; with the pain meds I'm taking, I can't safely get pregnant. A huge drawback is that the Pill tends to turn me into Crazy Town, weepy and prone to temper outbursts. People need to steer clear of me for the next few months.
When I talked to my RE about getting the Pill prescription, she seemed really surprised that I'm still in this much pain. It scares me to be this much of an outlier; she's essentially telling me I'm the 0.01%. I think I freak her out—I have been in constant pain for 3 months as a result of her performing surgery on me. And she doesn't seem to know what to make of me.
My pain doc seems really sure of my diagnosis, though. She hasn't shared the medical terminology for it, but it has to do with my history of pelvic pain, endo, and surgery sensitizing the nerves further. I haven't asked her about my prognosis, but I need to. Big time.
So I have the expert opinions of two doctors. One is unsure of my diagnosis and worried about me, and the other says I just got screwed genetically and I'll eventually get better (at least, I hope she thinks I'll get better). I'm starting to think a tad about getting a third opinion, although I'm not sure if it's necessary. Pros are that it could give me peace of mind, help me get out of pain, and prevent this kind of shitstorm in the future. Cons are that it's yet another appointment and copay, and I'm actually pretty confident in my pain doctor. My pelvic pain was on the rise even before this latest surgery (thank you, blogging, for helping me remember that), and the uterine balloon was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'll be thinking about a possible third opinion.
In addition to "celebrating" our 3-year TTC anniversary, my husband and I had our 5-year wedding anniversary yesterday. :) Love you, baby!
Alright, I need to go read my book club book on our deck. It's 80 degrees, sunny, and the mosquitoes haven't taken over yet. Have a good one!