Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “medicine”

Congratulations! You have Water-Elf Disease!

Much is debatable in this day and age.  We are constantly inundated with arguments of political, sociological, theological, philosophical and historical nature.

According to some sites, this little guy has Yellow Fever, Acid Reflux, Bubonic Plague and a splinter.

According to some sites, this little guy has Yellow Fever, Acid Reflux, Bubonic Plague and a splinter.

I think we can all agree on one thing, though:  the best place for medical advice is the internet.

According to WebMD, I may have Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema, Multiple Sclerosis, Windburn, Breast Cancer, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Dementia, Hepatits A, B or C, Lyme Disease, Malnutrition, Typhoid Fever or Radon Exposure.

To be clear, the sypmtoms I put in were related to being tired.  When asked if I bruise easily, I said that I do.  I also responded that I do, indeed, have dry skin.

That’s it.  From that, WebMD has determined that I have Typhoid Fever, which is frankly not something I have heard of since I used to play Oregon Trail on that one computer we had in the school library during study hall.

Other websites asked other batteries of questions that I answered honestly.  My potential diagnoses ranged from cancer and HIV to dehydration and mild anxiety.

When I put my main complaint as “fatigue,” though, not one website asked me if I was a parent.  Therefore, I was certainly not ever asked if I was a parent of two small children who sometimes have fights that must be broken up and who run seemingly incessantly during waking hours, or if in addition to my work as a parent I also worked a full-time paying job that required me to have a high level of patience and to stand for long periods of time, or if I live in a part of the country not prone to sunshine and year-round weather where my family and I could enjoy fresh air and Vitamin D, or if my boss was a dick, my family didn’t get along, my bills were piling up, my pet needed medical care, my house needed to be cleaned, my car needed to go to the mechanic, or my son’s preschool was giving me shit because I can’t volunteer or be around like the Stay-At-Home Moms can.

For, if the mighty internet had asked some of those questions, it might have come up with something more insightful and less alarming for my condition other than Syphilis.

And, while I don’t have ALL of the above listed “symptoms,” there are people who do.  And, on any given day, we all have a pile of crap we’re dealing with.

Just how DOES she do it?Oh...that's how...

Just how DOES she do it?
Oh…that’s how…

So, this all makes me wonder if anyone is really making the WonderParent thing work.

I would like to hear from you.  If you are a SuperMom or a SuperDad, please comment.  I would love to hear your tips and pointers for getting my act together and becoming the multi-armed Hindu Goddess-type I always thought I might be.

 

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The long, winding path to our family

The December series on fertility issues is, of course, over now.  However, we received this guest-post the other day and felt that it was important to include as well.  Many ODM readers may find this story touching, relevant and hopeful.

Many thanks to guest-poster, JD, for the submission!

We knew we were going to start a family after a year of being married.  We decided to travel to St. Lucia for our one year anniversary and for our two year anniversary we would have our first child.  Next thing we knew, two more years passed, many more destinations were traveled and still we hadn’t gotten pregnant.

We had been trying to get pregnant on our own for about a year when a friend of mine suggested my husband and I should see a fertility specialist and stop wasting time.  I hesitated on seeing a specialist because it’s admitting that there is something wrong and we will end up being that percentage of people that can’t plan when they want to conceive, or better yet, get pregnant when they aren’t even trying and don’t even want the baby (but we’ll get into that later).

At first it was exciting to being getting all the tests and appointments.  Every time they would tell me what test I had to get done, I would think that this was the one that would finally work.  The first was the test where they blow your tubes out with air to make sure they are opened.  I was told it would be uncomfortable with mild cramping, so I was prepared with my two Advil.  That was a crock of shit because I almost passed out when they were done and everything was already cleared! We tried on our own after that hoping it had worked, but after all the temperature-taking and pissing on sticks, still– nothing.  After two months of Clomid along with IUI with no results, we finally opted for the laparoscopic surgery to see if there is anything inside that is not seen.  There was only a little bit of endometriosis that was found and scraped out.  Even though the doctor told me there wasn’t enough to make a difference with fertility, I was still hopeful that it was enough.  But unfortunately, my hopes were shot down once again.

Besides not knowing if you will ever be able to have kids, the worst part is the emotional roller coaster each month.  I began to wonder what I did wrong and why this is happening to me.  You hear of this stuff happening to others and you always feel bad for them and talk about how hard of a situation it must be for them to deal with, but never do you think it’ll be you.  We didn’t want to tell our family what we were going through as they would want to keep asking for updates.  Others that haven’t gone through this don’t realize how insensitive and hurtful it can be to constantly ask.

Our next step was to continue IUI for 4 months but this time we had to begin hormone injections instead of Clomid.  Of course, insurance covers none of these treatments, so we started having to pull out the plastic and start watching our spending. This brings up a good topic: why insurance won’t cover something that will help someone who would be a good parent and can afford to raise children when it’s outside of my ability.  It’s not my fault that I can’t get pregnant, but others that receive welfare for their children do have the ability to not have kids could keep their fucking legs closed! I hate to get political, but why should I give money from my paycheck to help those that aren’t good parents and keep having kids “by accident” to receive more federal money when there is no one there helping me pay for my fertility treatments?  Why am I penalized for making too much money and having a uterus that is the black widow?  It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life I guess….

After giving myself shots in the stomach each night for about 13 days, my husband would come to the office at 7 am to watch his porn and do his business in a cup. I would then come in a few hours later to have his washed sperm shot into my uterus hoping it would find those few mature eggs.  But of course, after 4 months of this, no baby!!  Our doctor then advised us to start looking into IVF with this being an unexplained infertility.  We set our consult appointment for a clinic in Maryland and compiled our list of questions with cost being at the top of the list.  We decided to pay more money for their Shared Risk plan which gives you 100% of the money you paid back if you don’t have a baby after six tries.

So I began doing 2-3 shots in my stomach each night for about two weeks in hopes our first shot at IVF would work.  The shots are painful but I kept telling myself it was temporary.  After constant ultrasounds, the last thing I want to do is have sex!  What’s the point?  You have doctors doing this for you.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have to drive to Maryland 5 times during this cycle, but again, just kept hoping it would work and we wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  They ended up taking 15 mature eggs and out of that only two were of the quality we needed.  We implanted one embryo and were able to freeze the other for a later time.

Luckily, I found out that our one embryo took and I’m pregnant!!  I formed OHSS due to all the medications I was taking which has been miserable.  My ovaries are enormous and my stomach got so big after only 4 weeks of being pregnant that I looked like I was 5 months pregnant!  It’s been painful, but now that I’m eight weeks pregnant the pain has subsided a little.  I still have to take Estrace and Endometrin which isn’t fun, but I have only two more weeks and then I can start enjoying the journey of pregnancy.

From all of this, I have realized that you have to have faith that there is a master plan and everything will work itself out.  You may not realize it now but someday you will look back and realize whatever is meant to be, will be (with a little help and a lot of money!)  At times you feel alone and like it’ll never end but it eventually does.  At the end of the day, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to you.  Give it time (and again, lots of money) and your dreams will eventually come true!

Alternative Infertility

GUEST POST BY

MEREDITH BLAND

from PILE OF BABIES

I have never been into alternative medicine: I like vaccines, ibuprofen, and surgical options. When I hear people talk about the benefits of using Chia seeds in their food, I think that they are wasting what could be a perfectly good Chia pet. I believe that colonic enemas are NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH, rather than “cleansing.” So it is super odd that when my husband and I were being treated by a reproductive endocrinologist for our infertility, I tried some alternative medicine treatments as well.

We had been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which is the medical community’s way of saying, “Uh…the fuck if we know.” We started out with the usual medical treatments: three IUIs with Femara, which didn’t work. Then we moved on to an IUI with injectible drugs, and I ended up with somewhere in the range of 5000 mature follicles, so that got cancelled. At that point, our doctor recommended moving on to IVF. So we did. And then that didn’t work, either.

My husband and I were exhausted by then. All of the money, all of the time, all of the shots in my ass…we had enough. We decided to take a break for a few months. You know the saying, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop?” Well, so is an idle uterus when you are dealing with infertility. Instead of using the time off to relax, refocus, and recharge, I got re-crazy. I started looking into all of my options, and researching anything that might help. I wanted to try it all. I didn’t want to miss the chance to be the person who later said, “You won’t believe it, but Mongolian Throat Singing is what did it for us!” I could be the one for whom that last ditch effort, that one silly thing, was what made all the difference.

And so, I took the Cuckoo Express to Crazy Town.

Here are the stations I visited along the way.

1. Acupuncture

Okay, so acupuncture isn’t full-blown crazy. Lots of people do it and have great results. But…sticking needles in my head to open up my uterus? I just don’t know that I can travel that road with you, my friend. I did at the time, though! I was all, “yes, the needle in my big toe will open up my blockages, and improve my blood flow, and stimulate my chakras,” or whatever the fuck. I can’t say I loved it – I have never been a huge fan of needles, and I always had these nightmares that I was going to roll off the table face down with a face full of needles. How do you think Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies got that way? The man had poor motility and sperm production. And his wife talked him into acupuncture. And then he fell and got a face full of needles. I’d be pissed, too.

There is a lot of research out there supporting the use of acupuncture during IVF. I will also say that I enjoyed my sessions – there’s something about being stuck full of needles in a dark room with soft music playing that is very relaxing…relaxing in a “well, I guess this is how I die” kind of way. And it didn’t work for me, but I might do it again. But probably not.

2. Uterine Massage

Uh-huh. NOW we’re starting to sound a little nuts, right? Right.

The place where I got my fertility acupuncture also had a massage therapist. I love me a massage, so when the acupuncture team recommended I get some sessions with her, I said, “Here’s my wallet! Sign me up!” Turns out, this massage therapist focused on the uterus – in particular, freeing your uterus from fear.

I could not possibly be shitting you about this.

I would lie down on the table, and she would go to work, kneading my stomach like a happy cat. Then she would start to go deeper, and I would start to cry. She told me it was alright to cry, because I was probably releasing some deep feelings about my previous miscarriages. I agreed that it was alright to cry, but that I would probably stop if she removed her thumb from my fallopian tube. That shit HURT, y’all! I mean, holy hell! After 3 or 4 sessions, I started to “forget” to reschedule with her. I was terrified that my poor, mangled uterus was going to have a fight-or-flight response the next time her hands got near me and would either try to crawl out through my belly button, or send out both fallopian tubes to deliver a one-two punch to her well-meaning face.

So, that didn’t go well. The employees there recommended I try one more thing to clean me out and prepare me for me frozen IVF cycle. And that was…

3. Vaginal Steam Bath

I know.

I’ll give you a minute to re-arrange your face, which I am sure is twisted in disgust right now.

Ok. Let’s talk this through.

I don’t know how to defend myself on this one, you guys. I have to plead “temporary insanity.” Towards the end of my treatments with the acupuncturist, they recommended I try to cleanse myself with a vaginal steam bath. At first, I was deeply offended.Then I remembered that they had not been putting any needles in my business area – thank christ – so I probably shouldn’t take it personally.

I was instructed to sit in a chair that had some kind of weaving in the seat – like a steamer basket for my cootch – and to boil this bag of stuff and then stick a pot of it under me and lay a towel over my lap to keep in the steam. I don’t know what kind of hippie nonsense was in the bag, but it looked like either tea from the clearance rack at the supermarket (you know, the stuff that they put in a grocery cart at the back of the store, next to the toilets), or dirty gerbil bedding. It definitely smelled like the latter.

Since I am an idiot with a highly tuned sense of self-preservation, I decided to wait to steam my vagina for a time when my husband wasn’t going to be home. One night, he called to say he was going to be working late, and I pounced on the chance. I immediately ran into a problem – I had no chairs with holes in the seats. How was I going to get the steam into my beaver pond?! I did some quick problem-solving, and decided to put the pot in the bathtub and then squat over it with a towel over my lower body.

And I did it. God help me, I did it. And what was the result? A swampy crotch, and a house that smelled like no smell I had heretofore encountered. I dumped the stuff down the sink and opened the windows, trying to air the place out before my husband came home. It didn’t work. When he got home, he said hi to me, walked about five feet into the house, and asked, “What smells like death?”

“Oh,” I said, “I tried a new recipe and it did NOT work out.”

“What was in it?! Whiskey and roadkill?!”

“Something like that…”

So, the vaginal steam bath didn’t work, but our frozen IVF cycle did! We ended up pregnant with our awesome, exhausting twins. It was worth every minute of stress, sadness, needles, and uterine manhandling to get them. I don’t regret trying alternative medicine – I would have wondered about it if I hadn’t gotten pregnant and never tried it. And while it didn’t work for me, I am not discounting the whole field. Worst case scenario, you get a relaxing acupuncture treatment and a fearless uterus. If someone asks you to steam-clean your vagina, however, make sure you ask if they have any lavender-scented gerbil bedding. The “classic” scent is no good.

Meredith Bland blogs at Pile of Babies and writes humor essays for other websites. Read all of her nonsense at http://www.pileofbabies.com.

It won’t always be this way

In high school, they make you take health classes where they explain to you that you should just hold hands with your studly quarterback boyfriend because if y’all get naked and even think about doing the hibity-jibity, you will most certainly get pregnant and have babies and you’ll never get voted to be Prom Queen in a maternity gown from “Hoebags-R-Us.”

All of the scientific evidence, they say, leads us logically to conclude that even dry-humping might let an accidental sperm swim his little flagella-wiggling ass off on its desperate course to your eager-to-breed uterus.

Then, you become a responsible adult who actually wants to start a family and you quickly learn that it ain’t as easy to make a baby as it was always supposed to be.

Of course, there is no lack of irresponsible young people all over the damn place procreating and creating unplanned pregnancies in droves. That makes things worse as you might then wonder why the FUCK God, Zeus, Shiva, Jupiter or whoever is in charge of the universe would choose to entrust a 17-year old heroin addict with a tiny, precious human life and would opt to keep a loving, reliable, financially stable and healthy couple from starting a family.

Infertility blows chunks. And, according to the CDC, 6.7 MILLION women aged 15-44 suffer from impaired fertility in the US. That’s just a little more than 10% of the female population of this country. That’s a whole lot of blown chunks.

Incidentally, men contribute to infertility issues as well, with about 30% of reported cases of infertility being caused by male deficiencies, says Canadian group, CGICM. Overall, too, causes of fertility are completely unknown or unexplainable in about a quarter of all cases. That means one in four couples will not ever know why it is that, after repeated trying, measuring Basal body temps, predicting ovulation and doin’ it every other day like it’s a job, they STILL cannot get pregnant.

And those responsible, adult, stable couples who try so long to get pregnant doing all of the right things and by reducing their love lives to a regulated, charted chore of boot-knockin’ will ultimately have at least one friend who advocates heartily for good, Catholic family planning methodology that entails regular prayer and then shagging during the appropriate times of the month. To make matters worse, those motherfuckers will be on kid #4 while you sit in a waiting room hoping to get a prescription of Clomid and a super-fun test involving uterine scraping.

Infertility (which sounds to me like its definition must mean that someone is absolutely incapable of producing offspring,) is, by definition, what you are if you have “tried” for a year and weren’t magically graced with a little pea in your pod. If, in that time, you have been using no prophylaxes and haven’t miraculously put a bun in the oven, you are supposed to discuss your sexual history and habits, and your husband’s choice of underwear with your doctor. You may be infertile if you’re doing everything right and can’t make a baby. Really? Thanks, WebMD. Go fuck yourself.

Infertility occurs, then, when you are having an obstacle to getting pregnant. It doesn’t mean you’re barren. But you might be! Again, WebMD: you’re a bitch.

Then, even if you are able to get pregnant after you’ve been poked and prodded and made into a science experiment, that’s no guarantee of anything. Just giving it to you straight, ya know. I miscarried after three years of trying to get pregnant. It was the single most devastating thing that has ever happened to me. It is, quite literally, the absolute worst thing just about — ever. And, the nurse calling me to tell me, “Honey, this is great news. We know you CAN get pregnant now,” didn’t really help at the time, though her sentiment was heartfelt, true and was genuinely meant to help me keep my eye on the prize.

A few months later, I was able to become pregnant and carry that beautiful boy to term. He’s at the bar right now with my husband watching football. ‘Cuz we’re classy. And, he’s four now, so it’s totally cool for him to watch Disney Junior on the mini-TV in the booth at the local pub while dad watches the big screen in the corner. We also have a 1-year old who is asleep right now. I am listening to the sound of his breathing through the monitor and I am reminded of how lucky I am and how beautiful life can be. Seven years ago, I thought life kinda sucked and that the universe hated me. Things do happen as they’re meant to, I suppose. But, that is absolutely no consolation for anyone who is currently in the “life sucks” phase of the journey.

I try to remember now that if I hadn’t miscarried in 2007, I wouldn’t have the kids I have now. My life course would have been very different. And, that seems more tragic than the original tragedy seemed at the time.

When I had my first child, then, I attended meetings for new moms and we talked about how to cope with the struggles of motherhood (and there are many). I didn’t know if I had the right, at the time, to complain that things were hard as a new mother, but they indeed were – as any of you with children must know. But, a woman once said that she had adopted a mantra: “It won’t always be this way,” and I have found myself thinking of how amazing that is almost every day.

If you’re currently going through a fertility struggle, remember, “It won’t always be this way.”

If you are struggling with illness, depression, family problems, financial difficulties or other obstacles, keep in mind that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re a new parent and you’re sleep-deprived and sad and overwhelmed, just know that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re a new parent and it seems impossible to be a breadwinner AND the appropriate support at home, remember that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re the parent of a child who is having problems, know in your heart, “It won’t always be this way.”

And, if your life is amazing and you have no complaints and that fucking rhythm method worked for you and you are getting everything you want and you’re wealthy and everything is just perfect, please know, “It won’t always be this way.”

And in those moments when you are holding your little, tiny baby, swaddled in your arms, smelling of lavender after a bath, and you’re crying both from the joy of the moment and from the fact that you’ve slept a total of 4 hours in the past 3 days, just think about how “It won’t always be this way.”

**If you’ve got a story you’d like to tell, ODM is currently seeking guest posts for a series on fertility to be published later this year. Please check out the “guest posting” page to learn how you can tell us your story.

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