Sunday, February 21, 2021

Support is available

For anyone struggling to build their family for any reason, this is for you. You are not alone. 

This summit will be bringing together nearly a dozen organizations that provide resources for people going through fertility challenges or want to support those going through that difficult journey. Jewish in context but everyone is welcome. Free and open to all. 





 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Down

From so many people I hear that they're reaching capacity for what they can tolerate. As moms, as employees, as human beings. "Wet sponge that just can't absorb anymore" is the phrase that comes to mind. 

For me, I've gotten into a routine and have become kind of numb to everything else. I have limited interests and nothing seems worth the effort. My world has narrowed to the walls of my house. I try to walk outside regularly but with the cold weather even that's not happening regularly. I stopped caring about what I eat and have gained weight. I've lost momentum with my job search. Where there was once determination there is now only dejection. Advice from people who have successfully advanced their careers is irrelevant at best and mocking at worst: "I got recruited off LinkedIn;" or "my friend said there was an opening and got my resume to the hiring manager." No one responds to my applications and I'm starting to wonder what's the point. On the flip side I try to remind myself that I should be grateful to be employed, that not everyone is as fortunate, and that hopefully one day things will get better. 

What at first felt like survival mode has now just become the grooved plateau I live in. Anxiety turned to numbness. We're always in the house so I can't find a chunk of time to get the cleaning crew in. I'm doing the never-ending cycle of laundry, dishes, and trash/recycle removal and little beyond that. The only thing I care about is taking care of and playing with my little one, and the thought of sending him back to school is something we yearn for and dread and the same time. The original plan was waiting for us both to be fully vaccinated before considering it, but he's so bored in the house no matter what toys or games we offer. I think the warmer weather will help when we can be outside for longer than 2 minutes at a time. 

I'm stuck with fertility treatment. We can't do anything because our insurance doesn't cover a single penny. We're still technically looking for jobs in the hopes that one of us finds one with better insurance. But in this climate we're not hopeful that something amazing like that will fall in our laps. 

I watched the first half of the impeachment trial and was so impressed and horrified with the case presented. I couldn't bring myself to watch the defense, mainly because they kept showing clips of him and I had no interest in seeing his face again. Outcome incredibly depressing. 

I was eligible to get the vaccine in two of the current phases of my state (through my job and volunteer status at a hospital). My husband is in the last group to be called and so is not yet eligible. We've heard from several people that the mass vaccination site at Six Flags, which is a drive-through, isn't checking paperwork. If you get an appointment, you get a vaccine. Getting an appointment is the challenge, with people trying for hours multiple days in a row before scoring an appointment. They don't understand why he won't sign up. "If you can get a vaccine, you should - it's a matter of life and death. Who's to say who is more eligible? Why do they get to decide that my life isn't as important? If it doesn't go in my arm it might go to waste?" I agree that the vaccine rollout is a complete disaster. I don't have the answers but it feels wrong. And we're not going anywhere or doing anything to give him any increased risk so no point in fighting for appointments when hopefully more will become available and his phase will open soon. It's so disappointing that we waited months for this and had time to prepare but it seems like everyone was caught with their pants down to encourage a Hunger-Games-style situation. The whole thing adds to the depression. 

We're coming up on the one year anniversary of the lockdowns. One year yahrtzeit of my father-in-law's passing from the coronavirus. 

Overall feeling down. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Daily Grind - pandemic style

I've been wearing an envo (reusable N95) plus surgical mask since July. The envo seals around my face so not only does it give better protection but also eliminates the glasses fog. Some people looked at me weird when I first started showing up with this (especially the ones who were more concerned about matching their mask to their outfits), but now double-masking is a thing sanctioned by the top professionals. 

When I start to get overwhelmingly down about the state of the world and how stuck I feel, I try to think of the positive sides to this pandemic. There are lots, but so many come with a darker side. For example, we've saved a nice chunk of change from not sending anything to the dry cleaners for the past year. But that probably means that a lot of others did the same and that business went under.

My weight has been going up and down in direct correlation to my mood. At the start of the pandemic I gained. Toward the fall I lost enough to get back to baseline (pre-pregnancy weight). At this point I'm finding myself comfort-eating more often than not and it's showing. I feel my clothes fitting tighter and get surprised when I catch an unexpected angle in the mirror. I try to fight the "what's the point" attitude with "this isn't forever." It takes a lot of mental energy to eat mindfully and I'm not in that mindset. I want to be healthy and strong, with all the right reasons to motivate me, but with so many limits on our lives food is a reliable, easy reward during a time we can all use extra love and comfort. 

I took some time this week for personal grooming and self-care. I encourage my husband to do the same. We're deep in survival mode doing the bare minimum. After an incident left my feelings deeply wounded I needed to reset: I lovingly made a giant vat of chicken soup on Sunday. I had been saving the ingredients the week prior and finally got everything I needed in the last delivery. Since baby boy is currently transitioning from two naps to one, those nap minutes are precious and I used them to chop and clean veg to start the soup. I let it simmer for hours, and the house smelled amazing. I patted myself on a job well done and was so happy to have healthy lunch and dinner options for the next few days. The next morning I woke up literally by sitting straight up in bed: I had forgotten to put the soup in the fridge the night before and the whole pot spoiled. Between teething and the nap situation, I'd been getting less sleep and I was so tired and out of it the night before that I just forgot. I had no one to blame but myself and I was so, so upset. It put me in a funk and I needed something tangible to snap me out of it so I waxed my eyebrows and gave myself a pedicure. I gave a donation to charity to try to offset the sadness I felt by this seemingly minor incident to try to put out some good vibes into the world. [Thinking more about it I realize this was the last straw to something else too. I recently took on the challenge of watching all the Star Wars (yes, 9 movies). I didn't realize it at the time but I was feeding off of the energy of the rebellion who had something to fight for: a unifying goal that they were all working hard toward together. Excitement, adventure, hopping in a ship and taking off. All the things stuck people don't have. I'm thinking the soup was the last straw for me and it sent me down a dark path. I'm still not totally over it but at least better.] 

We've discussed the option of trying to figure out how to schedule the cleaning crew to give our house a scrub since that's something that brings us joy. But with the cold weather making outdoors not an option and no safe indoor options, we literally have nowhere to go for several hours. Something else to push to the back burner for "when this is over." 

I'm trying to think ahead and believe things will get better. There will be a time when we can hang out with friends and hang out with family and feel safe dropping our child off at school. I try not to think too far ahead because then it makes it harder to come back to the present when none of those things are an option. It's like playing the What Would I Do If I Won The Lottery - you imagine all the things you can buy with unlimited funds; how the world would be wide open for you to explore without the burden of debts or a daily job to report to... but then you need to come back to reality and realize you're still stuck to the financial ball and chain that is the daily grind. 

On top of the mental struggle is the cherry on top known as guilt. As challenging as things feel for me, everyone I speak to is going through something. Some are challenged with trying to settle the estates of loved ones who were lost to the virus; others are dealing with struggling with food insecurity and financial instability because they lost their jobs; some are dealing with the crippling anxiety that comes with isolation, loneliness, and fear of what we're all dealing with. It doesn't mean my challenges are real to me, but putting things in perspective is important too. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Exhale

I've been needing a mental health day off work and I decided to take it on Wednesday to watch history being made. It was refreshingly nice to see good news for a change. Today is the first day of the Biden Administration and I feel hopeful. I know things won't change overnight, but I'm hoping they will get incrementally better with time. 

I had the opportunity to sign up for the covid vaccine. Part of me felt guilty because not everyone has access to it. My reasoning was that if it doesn't go to me it may end up in the trash because they don't have their act together yet and defrosted doses must be used and cannot be refrozen. As it is, supply is such that I'm not sure they have enough for second doses. I also figured that once it is widely available my arm would be one less in line to delay everyone else. This doesn't change anything for us in our daily life. Masks, social distancing, staying home when we can. I hope we get to phase 2 in Feb and phase 3 by March. 

Once I got vaccinated I stopped nursing. We were down to once a day and he didn't even notice the change. I was hormonal, weepy, and slightly uncomfortable until things started to adjust. There isn't enough data to know what effects it could cause. I believe this vaccine is safe and likely similar to the flu vaccine which is fine for breastfeeding, but again - limited data. It would be a different conversation if he was still an infant or we both wanted to continue. We made it to 15 months and comfortable with that stopping point. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Unprecedented

I'm watching the news coverage: "House of Representatives evacuated as protesters enter capitol building" while the president eggs the protesters on via twitter. Unscreened protesters got into the capitol toward the house chamber - members of the house were handed gas masks and evacuated from the house floors. There's smoke coming from an undetermined source. Is this real? I thought we left this all behind in 2020. This is complete insanity. 

Unrelated (or maybe related?) my stress level reached a new height and I snapped at my husband. I had to take a webinar for work and once started needed to be completed. It was scheduled between lunch and nap I thought I'd be able to have it on in the background on low while playing on the floor with the boy. Nope. Nothing worked to distract him. He kept climbing on me to get to laptop over my shoulder. I tried distracting him with toys, I tried pointing out birds and trees outside, I tried detaching my keyboard and letting him play with that, I tried putting on a video of puppies on my phone.... nothing worked. As he kept getting rebuffed he went from playful to frustrated to crying as the webinar went on.  He's generally well mannered and doesn't hear "no" very often so he's not used to it. But I hated it. I hated splitting my attention and having to keep it from him with him not understanding at all why. Webinar was finally over and went to play in another area. My husband said he would take over at 1:45 and I was ready for a break. At 1:46 pm I asked where he was and he said, "I thought..." but I didn't let him finish. I put the boy in the crib and went to the bathroom since my bladder was about to burst. He came up a minute later and tried to explain his reasoning and I wasn't having it. I lost it. At this point I don't even remember what I yelled about specifically but the basic gist is that it's just you and me: if you're not watching him, I am. I'm juggling work and daycare and housekeeping and I just snapped. Yelling ended a few minutes later once I ran out of steam, followed by some loud clanking as I washed dishes, and some forceful throwing of laundry into a basket as I collected it for a load. I didn't even realize how wound up I was. I guess 9 months of a pandemic can do that. 

Everyone is struggling. It's not like I can call a friend or family member to complain. In their own way, everyone is going through something right now. We're on edge because the vaccine rollout is going so slowly. There's a new variant or two of the virus that spread faster and are more deadly. The president is actively ruining the country. And we're just over it. OVER. IT. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The year 2020

 This is the year that historians and scientists and journalists will be talking about for years to come. The things that happened, the words that changed their meaning: pivot, pod, bubble. Even the words that were so overused that meaning started to blur: unprecedented, abundance of caution, mute. It's still 2020. We're still living in that year. 

I'm sure there are lots of articles and news stories and tiktoks summing up the year. I'll leave that to the professionals who will likely do a more comprehensive job than I can. Here's the year I'll remember. This was a very difficult year. We shed all the externals of every day life down the bare skeleton of our existence. What's important? What's essential? 

"Extras" like restaurants and concerts and sports and museums get togethers with friends and family were shut down. But are they extras? Or are they the reason that make the daily grind bearable? We got on our screens every day to work, to socialize, to veg out, to shop, to pay bills. We held the people in our household close because they were the only ones we could hold during a time when we needed others the most. We've lost so many people that we've gotten numb to the numbers. But they're not just numbers. 

And it's not over. Just because the calendar year is flipping doesn't mean there's a switch to the virus being turned off. The opposite is true: hospitals are at capacity, health workers are exhausted, the virus mutated and is spreading more rapidly, vaccine rollout is going excruciatingly slow in the US, and another surge is expected post-holidays after millions of Americans traveled against all the experts pleas to stay home. The darkest days of the virus are still ahead.

Beyond that, though, is hopefully a light. A turn. A change. We have to believe there's an end to the darkness. I have to believe there's hope. It's how I'm wired; it's what got me through the miscarriages and RPL and 7 failed IVF cycles. So I'll join the people showing gratitude for some parts of 2020 and what I'm with leaving behind. 

I'm so grateful to have been home with our son. Between maternity leave and the shutdown he was in daycare for all of 11 weeks. I learned something about myself I never would have known without this opportunity: no matter how I envisioned my life I never thought that being a stay at home mom was for me. I didn't know how much I'd enjoy it. I bet I'd enjoy it even more if we could do things like music class and going to the library and the aquarium and the grocery store or playdates with other moms. 

I don't take for granted that our jobs were able to convert to online work. I recognize that so many people didn't have that option and are truly suffering. As bad as my anxiety and financial insecurity felt throughout the year, I know there are people who are struggling to make ends meet and I'm grateful for the programs and organizations that helped when I felt helpless watching the news about people struggling.

There are some things that had accumulated in our pre-pandemic daily lives that we just kept around, similar to that box of stuff you don't feel like sorting and leave packed in storage but bring with you whenever you move to a new house. Here are a few things I'm ok leaving behind.

- office gossip. Gossip in general but I felt like my office was the majority of where I spent time. It felt like the social lubricant that kept people close. That may be true in some ways but when the pandemic hit, we weren't in the office anymore. In the absence of being in close quarters, we naturally limited our interactions to work-related conversations. It felt really freeing. I don't like being part of drama but I like being in the know. I'm rarely in the know now and I'm ok with it. It made me realize what's important to me. It also clarified to me that I'm ready for a new job. Once all the perks were gone I realized that the pieces holding me there were few and not at all worth it. I'm ready for a new challenge and I hope people start hiring in 2021.

- being aloof. I'm cynical and it takes me time to warm up to people. I will continue to work on my trait of making snap judgements about people. While I'm far from becoming the type that offers free hugs to strangers in the park, I think I need to learn to be more open and trusting.

- fomo. I think there will be a lot of opportunities coming up in the months after the pandemic is over. My goal is to say Yes to things I can join and stop feeling left out of life. It's up to me to create my own happiness. Happiness is a choice and takes work but it is within our control.

I'm sure more will come up and I'll add to the list. Regardless of what this year took from us, I want to try to come out of it a better person. 

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy, and safe 2021.

Monday, December 21, 2020

But wait...

 After several rounds of labs and telehealth appointments, I've been medically cleared from my endocrinologist and pcp. My TSH came back in the 2s even though I haven't been on medication for over a year. If I get pregnant I'll follow up with my endocrinologist to find out if anything needs to be adjusted. My liver enzymes are still slightly elevated but stable so my pcp recommended continued exercise and weight loss but no restrictions otherwise. All bloodwork from my RE came back fine. The next step is to get an ultrasound and biopsy before transferring. But... in true #2020 fashion we were hit some upsetting news. 

Our insurance will not cover any part of treatment. Apparently the company decided to go through PROGYNY for all infertility related treatment and the clinic needs to be in network in order to qualify for benefits. My clinic doesn't participate in PROGYNY which means that absolutely nothing is covered. The real kick in the balls is that my former clinic, the one ran away from after 7 failed IVFs and recurrent losses they chalked up to "unexplained infertility" is in network. 

I'm not sure what we'll do. We need to figure things out. The FET and medication can cost about $10,000. But money shouldn't be a reason people don't have kids right? I would sell my house before giving up because of money. Or maybe slightly less responsible things like putting it on a cc or dipping into retirement. I guess things are on hold while we process this. 


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