For a blog about infertility, I haven’t written anything about menstruation. Well, stand forewarned readers, this is it. We’re going to talk about periods, so if all “that” talk makes you squeamish, feel free to skip this post (or read on anyway to learn about the complicated relationship we women have with our bodies).
I’ve often heard women faced with infertility express frustration and even hatred at their own bodies for betraying them. After all, for those of us with infertility, our bodies flat refuse to do precisely what they were designed to.
I, however, wasn’t one of those women. Certainly, I’ve been upset and frustrated and angry–just never at my body. It wasn’t my body’s–or my–fault. I’m just infertile.
Today, however, is different.
It’s different because I’m late. And I’m not just a little late. I’m really late. My cycle has always been somewhere between 28 and 32 days with months and months exactly the same. As a teenager, I was so regular I knew not only the day I would start but also the time. Twice a year my cycle shifted going from either around 28 days to closer to 32 or reversing from close to 32 to around 28.
And since I started in February of the year I was 16, I have never missed a single period. That’s almost 20 years of clockwork. That’s 12 periods per year right on schedule. That’s 235 timely visits from Aunt Flo.
So, why the hell, is #236 suddenly an issue?
My cycle is currently somewhere between 37 and 46 days. I don’t know for sure. As I explained in my last post, I screwed up and didn’t write down the actual day of August’s Cycle Day 1 (CD1). I do know, however, that it was sometime after our donor’s CD1 and before her retrieval (Aug. 22).
But, my poor documentation doesn’t really matter, and it certainly doesn’t piss me off.
My body’s betrayal does.
For all my infertility issues, my period was the one thing I could count on. I didn’t suffer from irregular and unpredictable periods like other women. I knew when it would happen. I could count on it.
And I have predictable symptoms: my breasts are so tender I can’t roll over in bed without instant pain; my joints, especially my hips and ankles ache so badly they keep me awake; and the cramps are so intense I’m immobilized in bed with a head pad, any movement causing another round of nausea and gut-twisting agony. Sometimes I bleed so heavily I spend two days carrying extra clothing in my car.
But this month? No breast pain, no achy joints, no cramps. This month, my body is refusing to do the one thing it has always done.
Maybe I’m too stressed.
Maybe this is my latest menopause symptom.
Maybe the universe has a really sick sense of humor and has chosen now as the time to give me a break from the pain and aches and cramps.
Maybe my uterus heard me say that if this baby thing doesn’t work out, I should just have it removed and not have to deal with periods anymore.
So, today, on day 37 (or 46), I finally gave in and called our nurse. I explained the delay and made the somewhat (but not really) off-hand comment that maybe this was menopause. She confirmed it could be. Then she explained that 90% of the women she works with are pre-menopausal or in menopause; this isn’t an issue. She asked if I had taken a urine test (I had). She also mentioned that every woman misses a period, so I countered with my extraordinarily regular cycle. Her reply? Yeah, but we want it to come this time. (And she’s not wrong . . .)
Currently, I have two options:
1) wait (sooner or later, it’ll start) or
2) go in for labs and an ultrasound (which aren’t covered by my insurance) and depending on the results, perhaps take a progesterone shot to trigger my period
Today, I chose to wait. We still have time to get the transfer done this year (while my deductible is met and before the clinic shuts down for the holidays).
So, tonight, like every night for the last 37 to 46 days, I’m going to bed without the heating pad or the fear of bleeding all over the sheets while I sleep.