Ugh.. Where Can I Buy Some Sleep?

It’s 4:44am right now, and I have been trying to fall back asleep since 2. We went to bed at 11:30 tonight last night, and I think I may have finally fallen asleep at midnight.

I have been having problems sleeping on and off ever since July, and it has progressively gotten worse since then. I think that all of these treatments have my hormone balance all out of whack and it is affecting my sleep cycles… Oh and my anxiety levels! I’ve talked about my recent struggles with anxiety here, and how my family doctor encouraged me to take Cipralex (Lexapro), an SSRI. I wavered in my decision several times, got desperate after 13 days without a good sleep and filled the prescription, and then our last FET failed, and the potential of doing another full IVF had me reconsidering starting the Cipralex.

Here’s why:
Cipralex is an SSRI, a serotonin re uptake inhibitor. Normally, when serotonin is released between your neutrons (nerve cells), there is a sort of pump-like mechanism that gobbles it all up (re uptake). The Cipralex turns off this re uptake mechanism (inhibits it) and allows the serotonin to linger a little longer for your body to benefit from it. This happens in many places in your body- of interest to those with mental health issues, there are receptors in the brain. But there are also receptors in the ovaries, which is why I’m hesitant to start it right before an IVF cycle. The IVF stim cycle is such a crapshoot on a good day, and seeing as how my first IVF went so well, I kinda don’t want to add any new factors to the mix.

Last IVF:
On lupron (20IU–>10IU)
On Gonal-F (200IU)

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Part of me feels like once I get pregnant, and I mean safe zone pregnant, the anxiety and sleeplessness will go away. But following some of your journeys, I have come to realize that the worrying doesn’t really stop, and the sleep issues might get worse. Another part of me feels like if things are still super shitty, it wouldn’t be a big deal if I waited out the minor heart defect risk of the first trimester, and started the Cipralex during the second. I am willing to deal with the temporary risk of infant withdrawal symptoms.

So yeah, this is the shit that I am worrying about at what’s now 5:17am! Totally getting ahead of myself, over planning, trying to control shit that is unreasonable for me to control, feeding my anxiety with more anxiety… I suppose this is what my life has become. Sadly, seeing my therapist on a weekly to biweekly basis hasn’t helped much beyond that first visit. I know that therapy is so patient/therapist specific, but I feel like my anxiety is beyond the mending capabilities of talk therapy. I also feel like the only thing other than being pharmaceutically altered that will help me feel better is finally getting pregnant and staying pregnant. I know this is a tall order, and I am still working on not getting super upset that everyone on my Facebook is pregnant or has children already.

Anyway, it is amazing that I have lived 32 sweet years not knowing what anxiety feels like. I have empathy for those who suffer from mental illness. It is a struggle wrought with a lack of understanding or compassion. For many people, there isn’t a “solution” that helps them cope with life or even affords them the simple enjoyment of a day. And while there is a lot of encouragement to “talk about it”, the stigma remains, and people are forced to stay in the closet about it. Being a gay woman, I’ve already spent too much time in the closet.

Now, where does a gal go to buy some sleep at this time of night? (It’s now 5:40am. Faaack!)

Happiness Cycle Day 14: Downtown

DW took the day off work today, as we had a day of medical appointments, in town and out of town. She has also been so busy and overworked so far this semester that she really needed a “mental health” day as well.

I must mention that I finally had a good sleep last night, after almost a week of terrible anxiety-induced insomnia.

This morning DW made me a decaf coffee (such a nice treat to be served coffee in the morning), we gave the dogs got some consolation pats on the head, and we were on our way.

Our first stop was the fertility clinic’s satellite clinic, which is in our city. I needed to have my blood work and ultrasound monitoring again. Things are on track, with my uterine lining measuring 9.4 today, up from 8.7 of two days ago. I also got a “present” from one of the receptionists, who wasn’t working today, but had mentioned last time I was in that “she’d give me a troll to put down my pants”. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but she meant Treasure Trolls, those dolls from the 80’s, for good luck. We joked about for a bit- especially the part about putting one down my pants. Anyway, today, the phlebotomist nurse gave me this on behalf of the receptionist:

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So thoughtful and sweet!

After that, we headed downtown, to see my family doctor. I was really nervous and stressed about this appointment, not knowing how to describe and explain the overwhelming emotions and feelings that I have been experiencing since the miscarriage. When we got there, my family doctor was super attentive, gave me room to talk, listened patiently and compassionately, and gave some good advice. I shared with her how depressed and anxious I have been feeling, how it has continued to affect my sleep and made me weary of socializing with friends who aren’t aware of our situation. She had me complete some forms: a depression questionnaire, an anxiety questionnaire, and a survey on the impact of my feelings on my activities of daily living. It was the first time that I had taken inventory of various aspects of my depression and anxiety, and how it has been affecting me beyond just my feelings and sense of hope for the future. This whole time I’ve been so consumed and obsessed with our miscarriage(s) and getting back to making babies that I completely lost sight of how I have been doing as a person. I mean, I knew that I was depressed, and I knew that I had an anxiety problem, but I had always placed them under the context of the miscarriage, and not really that they themselves are focal points that need to be addressed.

I have battled depression before, and had reached a nice homeostasis with Wellbutrin for years. When I first met DW, I had already been on it for many years, but like most people with mental health issues, because I felt better, I thought “why not, let’s try life anti-depressant free!”. That was a couple of years ago, and for the entire time, I have been fine. However, with the fertility challenges and heartbreak of three miscarriages, I think my dear friend depression has snuck back into my life, and has brought his asshole friend anxiety along as back-up.

I have mentioned my emotional struggles on my blog many times, but didn’t realize how bad it has gotten until I answered those questionnaires, and saw and felt the true concern in DW’s and my family doctor’s feedback on how I seem, and have been behaving. I guess this is sort of what an intervention feels like. I’ve been so caught up in my own head, and needed to hear what other people are observing. My depression and anxiety are a big concern right now, and my family doctor is concerned enough about it to suggest that I start some medications right away. She suggested Cipralex, which is an SSRI, and is effective for both depression and anxiety. I would love feedback from anyone who has taken it before. She says that it is safe before, during, and after pregnancy, even though Dr. Google claims otherwise. But I am convinced that you can search anything and find support for it in the form of a online support forum. This I have learned from the all-consuming world of TTC.

She wants me to double check with the RE that he Cipralex won’t interfere/interact with all of the other stuff that I will be on: estrace, prometrium/endometrin, aspirin, fragmin, prednisone, intralipids. I’ve emailed the RE’s nurse, so hopefully I will hear back soon.

I have mixed feelings about taking the Cipralex. On one hand I think that it would be better for me to just tough it out, that it’s normal to have feelings of sadness and despair, or constant worry, given what I’ve been through. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that my depression and anxiety levels are abnormally high, and the culmination of evidence is that that can negatively impact our potential pregnancy even more than the small risk of cardiovascular defects and autism that have been reported but not confirmed. I look at DW, and some of you who seem “recovered” from your miscarriages, and wonder why I’m still stuck in this destructive loop of depression and anxiety. I realize now that it’s because I am struggling with an extra layer of mental illness.

Work has been harassing me again as well. In the past seven days, the person in charge of leaves has called me three times and emailed me once. This is after talking to her already the first time. She didn’t have anything new to discuss the subsequent times, but rather has been very negative and pushy in her tone. DW says that if she calls me again, that we should complain to the union. The last thing you want to do when you have an employee suffering from a mental health challenge is harass them.

Anyway, after my doctor’s appointment we went out for lunch at our favourite Vietnamese place.

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Then grabbed some baked treats down the street at this great little bakery we found by accident one day the last time we were here. I got a gluten-free chèvre cheesecake, and DW got “the best butter tart ever”, as well as a pear almond tort-like thing that has a fancy French name that I don’t remember.

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We then went shopping at our favourite outdoor store: Mountain Equipment Co-op, where we caught up on some much needed shopping, and bought a couple of early Christmas presents (me mostly).

We also got a call from our primary nurse today. I am supposed to start my long list of meds on Saturday, in preparation for our embryo transfer on Wednesday morning!

I hope that time moves fast, as I’m anxious for our last embryo to come home, but I also feel like I need some time to process everything that has happened today. The good, and the bad new.

Limbo

Wow, I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been cooking up a storm, adapting new recipes, and washing lots of dishes. Yesterday I made my first gluten-free (GF) turkey meatloaf, and today I made GF turkey meatballs, and tomato sauce with produce from our garden. I plan to serve it for dinner on shredded spaghetti squash (also from our garden). Props go to DW for growing me all of these amazingly gorgeous organic vegetables and herbs!

Time seems to be moving at a very strange pace for me. Being home every day means that my sense of time is dictated by my daily chores, appointments, and the return of DW from work. I have been running errands, hiking on the conservation lands with the dogs, preparing elaborate dinners, and probably not cleaning as much as I should be. We have been relaxing at the cottage on weekends, so my routine is kind of messed up in this way too.

Obviously, in many ways I’m glad that I’m not at work. I suffered from an alarming level of anxiety from being dealt a ridiculously unfair schedule, a lack of support from the people that are supposed to be supporting me, as well as doing my best (and failing) at trying to provide meaningful learning moments for kids that are the most challenging in the district. I was not eating. I was not sleeping. I had fleeting thoughts of self-harm. My family doctor insisted that I take a break from all of it to regroup and grieve our loss. I am currently about one third through my leave of absence, and I am terrified of going back.

I feel like I’m just beginning to heal physically. I’m still spotting daily, and I definitely notice my athletic limitations compared to pre-pregnancy: lower cardiovascular endurance, core strength is gone, and my strength has severely decreased. I have been lifting weights again every other day for the past week and a half, and my energy and motivation has been lacking. Pre-pregnancy, working out has always been a treat and a stress-reliever, but now I feel like I’m dragging my heels and my body just won’t do what I want it to do.

Interestingly, my eyesight has significantly changed as well. I had an eye exam two days ago, and my vision, which has been stable since 2007, has gotten worse by almost 2 diopters in both eyes! I suspect that all of the pregnancy hormones have messed up my body in many ways that I am unaware of.

Emotionally, I am really struggling. Part of me wishes that I was back at work (I really enjoy my career- just not at this particular school and schedule), as I miss the kids, routine, and socializing with my colleagues. In particular, I miss the first two schools that I was at. The kids were amazing, and the staff made me feel like family. Even the administration were very personable and supportive. However, my past two schools have been really difficult- due to the administration (lack of support and disciplining of students), and the particular classes that I have been assigned (the classes that nobody wants because it involves teaching the most difficult content to the most poorly behaved students). Unfortunately, being in a union (don’t get me wrong, I am so appreciative of unions) so much of where you teach and what you teach is dependent on seniority, and being a relatively new teacher in a school board that is shrinking, I am at the bottom of the food chain. So the most experienced teachers can choose to teach the easiest students and their first choice of subject, and the new teachers with the least experience get what nobody else wants. Not to mention that I get paid half what they get paid, and end up working extra hours at home prepping every night.Makes sense right? Ugh.

Look at me. Three weeks off from work and I’m still bitching about it. Now and again I have to remind myself that I am so lucky to have job security and benefits, and an (unpaid) summer off.

In happier news, I came home to a gift today:

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A friend of mine sent it with their condolences on our loss, and for a moment I was so touched but also so frustrated that miscarriages are often such a hush-hush secret. I know they are common, but given the lengths that we have gone to make a baby, our repeated losses seem even more tragic. For example, we can’t just have sex a ton more times and get pregnant (though- this should not dissuade anyone from trying this strategy ;)). We apparently can’t even get an IUI to work. Very frustrating.

In the meantime, I will wait for DW to get home before diving into these:

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I saw a new Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine this week. He lectures annually for the acupuncture program that I used to teach for. He is a fertility specialist, and until now, I haven’t been able to see him because he only treats on weekdays (teacher schedule). The appointment went well. He is very thorough and has a three-phase plan for me. The first phase is getting my natural period to come and flush out all of the stagnation in my uterus (and what energetically remains of the pregnancy). Then, we work on building my yin, which is quite depleted in me, and what likely causes my long follicular phases (eggs need more time to mature because my yin is too weak). Lastly, we will work on lengthening my luteal phase, which is super short. He says that even if I were getting pregnant naturally, my luteal phase is so short that proper implantation can’t even occur. Sometimes, regulating the follicular phase also fixes the luteal phase as well. He’s got me on some herbs right now, which are in the form of high potency granules. While I’m very proficient at acupuncture and general TCM principles, I was not trained in the healing properties of herbs, which can have incredible synergy with the acupuncture treatments. I am glad he is healing me through the use of both. He suggests that I sit this next cycle out, and try again the following cycle. So essentially, I’m in limbo for another 9 or so weeks.

I Feel Broken

Normally, I’d google a keyword related to the theme of my post, but today I don’t think I can even find a visual to convey how truly broken, destroyed, or despaired I feel. Nothing new has happened. I just think that the reality of the past 15 months has finally hit me. Like the denial has worn off. I’m probably in a bit of a mood as well, I suspect.

The past 15 months…..

has changed me

I no longer enter a room filled with optimism or a smile on my face.

I no longer enjoy each day like it’s filled with new opportunity.

I am weary of conversations with people because they always seem to ask when DW and I are gonna have children… And I hate lying, and I really really wish I could just tell everyone what we are going through because the burden of it is overwhelming me. I wish I could get some sympathy (different from pity) because I feel like I’m filling with sadness that is weighing me down and I need someone to carry my pack for a while so that I can heal.

I am no longer vibrant and interesting to talk to. I’ve had many moments lately where I contribute nothing to conversations, which is very unlike me. I used to be described as charming and very personable. It makes me wonder if maybe all of those really awkward people I’ve met in social gatherings were going through something painful like this.

I’ve got this baby snatcher vibe going on. No joke. I won’t elaborate, as I might creep out some of my mama blogger friends on here. But basically, my baby envy has increased significantly. I’m cradling and rocking my little dog like a baby, holding her body close to mine, hearts close together. I’m tearing up just thinking of how badly I yearn to hold my own baby, and how it’s taking too long.

DW is upset with me for being upset. She is going through her own grieving and blaming process. Blaming herself and her body for the two miscarriages, and grieving the fact that it is time to move on to using my body for the last 3 embryos. (Remember that the only reason we were doing IVF was for her to carry my embryos). She feels that she has more of a right to be upset because “[I] still get to try”, and she doesn’t. In a way, I do agree with her point of view, but I see us as a team who has failed. I feel like the odds have been against us. I feel like the game has been rigged and the rules haven’t been fair, and sometimes I wonder what the hell is the point in playing anymore.

Now I know there are many others who have been at this for longer, and I hope I am not coming across as entitled or whiney. I admire you for your continued perseverance and optimism, and for supporting us along the way (even if you occasionally roll your eyes), but my struggle is real. It penetrates into the depths of my core, to the point where I haven’t been able to enjoy life as it exists right now.

Baby making has broken me.