I will never ever forget the day I got the call for my test results. Well at least the first set. The results came in two sets and got worse as they came in.
I found out about my Ovarian reserve level first. The Anti Mullarian Hormone Test, known as the AMH level, is the amount of hormone that your baby follicles put off in the eggs. These are the follicles that aren't ripe yet. Think of it like a concert. The more attendants you have, the louder the screams. Fewer people, less noise. The AMH level tests for noise. The more follicles you have, the more AMH levels are put off into the body, the louder they are. Lower levels mean there aren't many follicles in there. It's a quiet audience tonight. The normal levels for someone my age (28) is around 4.0 to 6.0. Anywhere from 2.0-4.0 is acceptable. Low fertility is 1.0-2.0. The "Undetectable Range" falls under that. I was at .29
At the time I had no idea what that meant. I was driving to work, called in to the RE for a quick update on my blood work, and the nurse told me "Your AMH is .29".
"Ok thanks, I'll call tomorrow and see if my FSH levels are back yet"
I had no idea what AMH meant. None.
Quick Googling on my phone in traffic turned up the quick results of "you are almost barren, you have very few eggs left, you have no time at all, act right now, right now, right now".
WELL WAIT, how reliable is this test?
Oh. Around 97% Accurate.
Cue the frantic panicked crying in traffic. Cue my calls to my husband, my mom, and my best friend, all telling them my shocking results and all together falling apartness.
And it got worse from there.
Interestingly enough it was in the middle of a snow storm that rocked Texas the year of the Super Bowl in Dallas and the city was essentially shut down. I was off work because I couldn't make it through the ice. I figured if I was at home, I might as well call the RE's office and find out if my results were back yet. Hell the day before had been bad enough, this can't be any worse.
Up to this point, my infertility journey consisted of "you have bad tubes, IVF should be no problem". My FSH had always been fine, and all hormones came back normal at every test. This was just a new RE and he wanted to see as a precaution. I assumed. I assumed things were going to be fine. So when that AMH result came at me the day before, I was rocked to the core but assumed nothing else could happen.
So I was still in bed on an icy February morning in 2011. February 1st 2011 to be exact. I reached for the phone to call and see what the RE could possibly tell me, or hopefully not tell me, about the status of my bloodwork. I had no calls from them in a week, so I assumed nothing was back yet. RE's always call you when your blood work comes in.
"Oh yes, here it is, we got your FSH. Yeah it's at 33"
WAIT WHAT? 40 is menopausal!!
Cue more crying. I have few eggs left, and the hormone responsible for growing eggs is slamming through my body at 3 times the normal amount, slamming my depleted eggs with massive amounts of stimulating hormone and spilling eggs left and right. Great.
So I got in the bathtub and cried it out. What else do you do at that point? I'll never ever forget what finally broke through my numbness and brought the tears. I'll probably remember this video and this song for the rest of my life. I was scanning through a "cute pets" website I sometimes visit that has cute puppies and kittens doing cute things, in order to raise my spirits. Someone please remind infertile women that baby animals is just as saddening as baby humans. Baby animals will always remind you of your lack of baby humans. They make you think of innocence and the need to be loved and cuddled and protected. Don't we all have these images of cuddling our one-day babies? You really can't easily look at a puppy and not feel the same stuff. So this video came on. And I lost it. Of all the things to finally make me cry, it was a slow motion baby daschsund.
Maybe he reminded me of my own precious dog. The Daschsund that never leaves my side. He sleeps with me, sits by feet in the kitchen, in the bathroom, while I'm in the tub, while I blog this very journal entry. He's with me all the time, never ending. He's my baby.
The saying goes that it's no use crying over Spilt Milk. I disagree. It's very useful to cry at this point. It's very useful to feel these emotions, because they are real, and this is real life. Grief means that we feel pain. Sadness and tears usually indicate loss, and if infertility doesn't equal loss, then I'm not sure what else does. It's a loss for many of us even before we HAVE children because we lose the right to "do this like everyone else". We lose the ability to usually feel normal. To feel fertile. To feel feminine. To feel useful. We lose finances. We lose sleep. We lose time at work and at our families to spend it at doctor's offices. We lose what we thought pregnancy and conception was going to look like. We lose innocence. We lose babies and that takes pieces of our heart we never get back. We lose sanity at times, and we lose our minds most of the time. We lose in most areas and loss means tears. You lose before you ever start to win, and for a very long time all you ever feel is loss.
And if you don't walk through that loss, if you don't let yourself feel it, then you are doing yourself a real disservice. I'm a pretty optimistic person. I can usually see the good in trials and keep hope in difficult times. But even people who feel hope ALSO feel sadness at the same time. Let's not trick ourselves into simplistic thinking that somehow means keep our heads up also means keeping our eyes dry. That's a lie to ourselves. Lying to ourselves in this process leads us down very bad and negative roads. Inability to let ourselves feel these emotions can't bode well for our marriages or even our future children. If I can't face the reality of this situation and let myself be honest in grief, what the hell am I going to do when I'm faced with a similar situation once my child is here? What am I going to teach my children about living life if I just deny, deny, deny? Stuff, stuff, stuff? What will my children learn from me if I can't be authentic before they ever arrive?
There is great use grieving before you move to the next step. Unresolved emotions will cloud our decisions. I must accept and be at peace, relatively, at each stage of this before I can move to the next. If I don't face the reality of this grief today, It WILL slam into me at some point.
You cannot outrun your emotions. You just can't. You can put it off for as long as possible, but you are creating a true shit storm of epic proportions. Put it off for 5 years, stuff those emotions down for that long, and once they all finally come out, you'll be feeling 5 years worth of pain all at once.
I think I'll let myself feel it when it comes, instead of fighting it. Because just like my blog title says, it can't rain all the time. The tears will stop and it will get better. So if baby puppies make me cry, then by all means, I'll sit in my bathtub and cry.