Mind over Injections

I’ve given myself dozens of shots.  Infertility will do that to you.  But it doesn’t seem to matter how many shots or how many days in a row, it’s still all a mental game.

Knowing that today was the first “big” day of our transfer prep, I finally organized all my meds.  I emptied the giant box of “leftovers” that lives under my coffee table, sorting out medications I could use for this transfer (and organizing them by expiration date).  Then I organized the new meds to use once the old ones were depleted.

med box

Periodically throughout the day, I checked the clock.  I added the Lupron (the shot I started today) to my medication app and set an alarm reminder as well.

At 6:30 I started paying attention to the clock.  I needed to finish posting and burning pictures, but I also wanted to soak in the tub.  Unfortunately, these two things couldn’t occur simultaneously, and I didn’t want to rush what would be one of my last relaxing baths.

At 6:47 I’d finished posting pictures but had only just begun burning their CDs.  I contemplated my next move. Should I eat while I burn?  That way I wouldn’t also have to eat after the bath (and feel rushed to get to bed at a decent hour) . . . but I wasn’t really very hungry.

At 7:00 my anxiety started to build, and my infertility OCD kicked in, so I checked my meds again, making sure I had the vial, syringe, and alcohol wipes.  Check, check, and check.  I contemplated drawing up my dose but talked myself out of it.

At 7:15 my alarm went off, telling me to get ready for the shot.  My stomach sank.

I went through my injection routine.  I washed my hands and gathered my supplies.  I opened the Lupron box, removing a single syringe and alcohol prep pad.  I opened the inner box, removing the vial of medication.  I tore open the alcohol prep pad and popped the cap off the vial and swiped circles on the top.  I placed the prep pad on it’s wrapper and waited for the vial to dry while I prepared the syringe.  I peeled the individual wrapper off like the skin of a banana.  I pulled the plunger back and pushed it in a time or two to help it slide a little more easily.  I slid it carefully to the line labeled 10, holding it up to the light to double check.

I removed the needle cap and gently slid the needle through the circled center of vial’s rubber top.  I inverted the needle and vial, so the needle was below the vial and pushed in on the plunger, the air from the needle filling the vial, changing the equilibrium allowing the the medicine to flow downward.  I slowly pulled the plunger down, drawing the liquid into the syringe.  It filled smoothly with only tiny bubbles at the bottom.  I flicked the syringe with my finger, encouraging the microscopic bubble to the top.  I pushed up on the plunger, forcing the air back into the vial and began pulling back down to continue filling the syringe to magic number–ten.  I double checked against the light, and it was ready.

It was 7:21.  I had time to kill.  I capped the syringe and waited.  I checked facebook and the clock.  7:22.  Then 7:23.



At 7:26, I caved and rolled my sweatshirt up, exposing my stomach.  I wiped slow alcohol circles to the right of my navel.  Still 7:26.  I waited for it to dry.

7:27.  I reminded myself to breathe as I stared at my stomach.  I turned off my alarm.  I didn’t want to hear it ring.

7:28.  I uncapped the needle and gripped the prepped skin and told myself to breathe.

7:29  I realized I wasn’t breathing and took a breath.  I imagined sticking the needle into my stomach.  I knew it would hurt but that it wouldn’t hurt as badly as I thought it would.  It never does.

7:30  My med app chimed.  It was time.  I froze like I do every time.  I told myself to just do it.  I didn’t move.  I breathed.  I imagined the needle sinking into my flesh.  But it didn’t move.  I breathed again.  I imagined the dart-like motion.  Nothing happened.

7:30  My hand flexed but didn’t make contact with my skin.  I breathed again.  Told myself to just do it already, get it over with, to hurry up, I needed to take my birth control pill RIGHT NOW too.  I realized my ears and face were hot.  I was holding my breath again.

The sting of the initial contact came as I finally committed.  I slid my hand up the syringe to the plunger and pushed.  The plunger didn’t move.  I pushed harder.  Still no movement.  Finally the burn of the liquid was followed by a wave of heat as the red ring of the medication appeared under my skin.

I wiped the tiny red dot from my skin as I removed the needle.  It thunked into the red container.  The first of many.

“You can’t possibly understand”

Years ago, I casually posted on facebook that I “needed” someone to come clean my house and fix supper, so I could just go to bed.  My work week had been extremely stressful week, and I had caught a bug from my students.  I didn’t feel good, and I was exhausted.

The first reply quickly suggested that I was lucky to be able to take the night off–I didn’t have to juggle my life and children after all.  I left teeth marks on my tongue.

We’re so quick to judge women who aren’t mothers as incapable of understanding love, pain, fear, and struggle.  I’ve heard it countless times, “You think you’re busy [or stressed or worried or tired or or or…..]?  Just wait ’til you have kids.”

We are incredibly dismissive of non-mothers, as if we are unworthy in comparison:

  • “You can’t understand because you’re just a step-mom.”
  • “You wouldn’t know because you’ve never stayed awake at night worrying for your kids.”
  • “You can’t possibly understand what it’s like.”
  • “Adopting’s just not the same, ya know?”
  • “What kind of a woman doesn’t want kids?”
  • “What kind of mother gives her kids up?”

One of the very first messages I received when the blog went live was from a woman who is “just” a step-mom and an aunt.  She wrote to express her frustration with these exact sentiments.  Weeks later, I got another message from woman who mothers daily but is also daily dismissed because she’s “just the stepmom.”

But stepmothers aren’t the only ones who are judged; society judges all kinds of mothers.  We judge women who have c-sections as “taking the easy way out.”  We judge working moms for “abandoning their children” and stay-at-home moms for not “setting a good (enough) example.”  We judge single moms and teen moms and older moms and moms of only children and those of bigger (than “normal”) families.  We judge strict moms and lenient moms, helicopter moms and lawnmower moms, moms who buy the wrong sunscreens, snacks, clothing, toys, and baby products.  We judge and criticize and challenge and suggest and advise.

And as much as we intellectually know it’s bullshit, we internalize those criticisms.  We judge ourselves. And because, at the bidding of society, we’ve torn ourselves all apart, we then subconsciously turn our internalized self-criticism on each other.  And the circle of judgement is complete.

Mostly, we’re quick to judge women.  We aren’t allowed to experience our lives on our own terms.  We’re conditioned to put on a pretty face: “Oh, everything’s great.  Just a little busy.”  We’re trained to be self-degrading: “Please excuse the mess; our house doesn’t always look this way.” We’re taught to think of others before we think of ourselves: “Oh, no, go right ahead.  I don’t really like dessert anyway.” We’re not allowed to be stressed or sad or pissed because someone somewhere else has had a different experience than we.

Notice I said different.  I didn’t say harder.  That’s part of the rhetoric that gets us in trouble.  It’s divisive.  Worse yet, it’s destructive.  It drives us underground.  We bear our burdens in silence, sinking under their weight.  We become less than we should be, crippled and stunted by the expectations and the pressure to hold it all together and not be honest. Because to admit that life is a messy, stressful, fear-inducing struggle is to fail.

And there’s no way we can admit failure.

The truth is our struggles don’t make any one of us better than another.  They unite us.  Instead of playing the who-has-it-worse game, we should be sharing our stories and holding each other up.  The details of our stories differ, but it’s ALL hard.  And far too many of us do it alone.

simply love


When You’re Tired of Waiting

You know how people joke about sending someone to the bathroom in the restaurant, so your table’s food will finally arrive?  Apparently that works for infertility, too.

Monday, I had given up.  I was tired of waiting for Cycle Day 1.  With no way of knowing how much longer we’d have to wait, I was afraid we’d get too close to the end of the year when our clinic closes for several weeks for the holidays.  I didn’t want to push the transfer, with all its medications, into 2019, especially since we’ve already met our deductible.

So I called my nurse to get the orders for an ultrasound and blood work.  Based upon those results, we would figure out the next step (perhaps starting birth control immediately or perhaps “encouraging” cycle day 1 with a progesterone shot).  Unfortunately, I did not get a call back from my nurse during the day, so I sent a message through the clinic’s system, knowing someone would answer it the next day.

Tuesday, I received a reply from a substitute nurse confirming that we were going to try to trigger my period.  Upon confirmation, she sent me the orders.  Unfortunately, it was late enough I couldn’t try to make a local ultrasound appointment.

Wednesday morning, I learned I wouldn’t have to.  Cycle Day 1 finally arrived saving me hundreds of dollars in tests.  aunt floSo, instead of calling my local clinic for an ultrasound appointment, I called the Denver donor nurse line.  (Wednesday is my nurse’s usual day off, and the substitute nurse told me that my nurse was off until Thursday, so I didn’t even bother calling her directly.)

Late Wednesday, I got a call back from another sub nurse.  That evening I downloaded my transfer calendar and monitoring orders, and today, I picked up some of my medications (and scheduled delivery for the one that comes from the specialty pharmacy).

So, we’re officially on the countdown.  Tomorrow, I start birth control.  Near the end of the month, I start the first injections, and at the very end of the month, I start the estrogen patches.  Mid-November, I add all the other medications.

And November 20, we’ll transfer two embryos.