Seeking strategies to be less deranged while trying to conceive.
March 26, 2018 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I (36 F) and Mr. Millipede (40 M) are trying to conceive, via fertility treatments, after a 6-month break from doing so. Last time, it was increasingly emotionally hard each cycle. This time, it is already emotionally hard. I seek your strategies for mental and emotional stability during this time.

Here are the facts:
1) I have PCOS. I do not ovulate on my own*, hence, we need to do ovulation induction to make this happen.

2) Last year, we did about 4 cycles of (successful) ovulation induction + timed intercourse, and were unsuccessful at actually getting pregnant.

3) The really hard part for me was, and remains, the "two week wait" between ovulation and pregnancy-test-o-clock. I would basically convince myself I was pregnant each time, obsessively googling any tiny symptom or change in my body, watching my heart rate constantly on my fitbit, delving into the hundreds of TTC forums and trying to find positive-outcome anecdotes matching any of my experiences. Each time I wasn't pregnant, it was really disappointing and miserable. It also dovetailed with PMS and a period, which have always been bad in my case (possibly worsened by my PCOS). These times were very hard for both me and for Mr. Millipede, who bore the brunt of my wrath.

4) This was extremely hard on our relationship (go, find my previous question and see!) but we stuck it out despite all your very on-brand metafilter DTMFA advice, worked on our conflict resolution and de-escalation skills, and feel confident that we can weather it better this time.

*5)Three weeks ago, we went to the RE to start a cycle, and it turned out that I had ovulated on my own(!) the prior week--she confirmed via ultrasound and a blood test. I'd been taking myo-inositol and other supplements, and I guess they worked. I had a really normal ovulatory cycle all by myself, despite all PCOS. I also had a feeling I was ovulating when I was, and Mr. Millipede and I had sex just in case.

I really, really, really wanted that to be it. It was a perfect story. It would preclude any more fertility pills and monitoring and trigger shots. I was convinced that was it. My period was four days late at this point. I felt light-headed and weird and I was so sure. We went to get a blood test on Saturday morning (I was too nervous to take a pee test).... and it was negative. And then I got my period. And then I was weepy and miserable the rest of the weekend. Mr. Millipede was supportive; I was doing my best not to lash out at him.

6) Now it is time for a fertility cycle, and I am dreading it. (Even though I ovulated on my own once, it's not at all guaranteed I could do it again, and also, we are going to try IUI this time to at least eliminate the relationship-misery of sex-on-schedule). I am dreading being disappointed again, and I am dreading that deranged 2-week-wait period where I am hypervigilant and insane about my body, only to be disappointed once again.

I am seeking strategies to manage that 2-week-wait period better, and also manage all of this better. I am in therapy--what I seek are ways you, who have personally been through this, managed. Right now I basically feel like my body is dysfunctional in this very basic way, and as is my wont, instead of being quiet and sad about it, I am FULL OF RAGE at all humans and their mothers. Every human is an example of some other woman who was able to get pregnant. I haven't even started a cycle yet, and I am already in my warm bubble bath of derangement. Which I logically know is derangement. Yet here we are. Help.
posted by millipede to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I really recommend Reddit's /r/infertility forum and don't recommend many other forums, as they are full of people who had a symptom, posted, and then disappeared. Also this book was really helpful for me: Conquering Infertility. For the 2WW in particular, I found distractions to be the most helpful — and posting on Reddit/reading others on Reddit. There are good coping mechanisms there.
posted by melodykramer at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I found it easiest to just assume I wasn't pregnant, ignore everything, Google nothing, and focus on the mid-term "what's next?" plan. Like, what is your plan after IUI -- IVF? Adoption? Foster to adopt? You can choose to see the upcoming cycles of AR as what you need to go through to get to the next step.

We got a high-needs dog who really needed nurturing and that saved my sanity.

But it is just hard. It's really hard. You can take the edge off but for a lot of women there is just going to be pain.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: (Not to threadsit, but "don't get pregnant" is an answer so extremely unhelpful that I can't help but read it as trolling, so: please don't suggest it. It's like answering someone's question "should I eat this can of beans?" with "why are you considering eating a can of beans? Eat a cucumber!" I suppose I should have noted in the question that it is a given that we are committed to getting pregnant, but I felt it was obvious)
posted by millipede at 8:44 AM on March 26, 2018 [11 favorites]

I sent you a MeMail, millipede.
posted by like_neon at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2018

Mod note: One comment removed, see above and please focus on the question asked. Okay to give the thread a pass if that's not where you're at.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2018

Are you seeing a therapist for yourself for infertility issues? I found that has been the most helpful thing I could have done for myself. I really want to second r/infertility, it’s the only super supportive place I’ve found that doesn’t push either a positive spin or that it’s unreasonable to want to be pregnant.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Check out support groups through RESOLVE.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:08 AM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

more memail from me!
posted by caoimhe at 9:33 AM on March 26, 2018

Connect with a support group - less isolation and more connection with women and couples who know the journey and can help you help yourselves with navigating the journey. My sister found her group to be both grounding and encouraging (staying in touch with your heart, avoiding shame & blame, self care, etc). Reach out & see what clicks!
posted by childofTethys at 10:05 AM on March 26, 2018

The process is inherently and deeply crazy-making. It took about 3 years for us to conceive the first time. I really can't think back on that period without acknowledging I was fairly bonkers about 60% of my waking hours.

It may help (it did me) to find yourself some time to hang out with people who are totally out of the baby-having stage of life. Right now, probably all of your same-age friends are in some form of baby/no-baby decision space. And that kind of crazy loves company.

I hung out with some "older" 50-something/60-something librarians at the time. Some were moms, some weren't, and seeing how this EPIC LIFE THING kind of fades into the background as life goes on was helpful.
posted by pantarei70 at 11:28 AM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can't say that I handled the waits very well (two years of trying, including 4.5 IUI cycles, a miscarriage and finally successful IVF).

Things that helped me:

Not acting pregnant before I was pregnant - drinking moderately, having coffee, exercising - basically, acting normal.

Not doing the thing where you think, 'well, if this works, I won't be able to go on that vacation because I'll be six months pregnant.' Just book the vacation. At least if you're still not pregnant, you'll be on vacation. Ditto signing up for activities or accepting work assignments or pursuing whatever else you want to pursue. Don't put your life on hold.

Get really absorbed in something else to take the focus off.

I know that support can be helpful, but I actually hated talking to people about it. If I told them that we were trying, then they would ask me how I was doing or if it had worked and that killed me every time, especially if they asked during the wait. Also, people say really insensitive things.

If all else fails, just accept the fact that you're going to be crazy and make sure that the rest of your life is as non-crazymaking as possible.
posted by oryelle at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

Plan and execute a cool trip to a kid-unfriendly place (like something that would be a total drag to bring a kid to). Make a google swear jar and every time you feel the urge to google a perceived pregnancy symptom, make yourself put money in the google jar. IF you want, keep this up once pregnant for not googling things that can go wrong. Take the jar money and either get yourself something frivolous or put it into savings for kid. IF you get a negative pregnancy test consider it something that needs to be treated and do something for yourself (like stepping up your self care to manage depression). That might be taking a day off to grieve, getting a massage or some other bodywork to relieve menstrual tension, getting ice cream, all 3, whatever helps you do you. Binge on some TV, movies, or novels that aren't related to motherhood or reproduction saving a species or anything like that.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

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