So, I’ve been on Zoloft since IVF3 failed.  It just got too hard, and I finally agreed to have help to get me through this IF shit.  I’ve always been super conservative about medication, and am very wary of being altered by it.  I don’t want to not feel like myself, even if my self isn’t the most chipper person on the block.  But the pain was just too bad.  Thinking back, I remember that after that BFN, my whole body ached – very badly and for days and days.  I remember repeatedly pressing on parts of my scalp, because the tension was so intense that I guess it was even making my scalp tense up.  It’s like the stress had turned my body into one big cramp and I couldn’t relax it anymore.  Now, that’s just not conducive to fertility, right?  Right.  No chicken under that stress would be laying ANY eggs.  So, enter Zoloft.

Not surprisingly, I feel much better now that I have my Zoloft as support.  What I didn’t expect is that I don’t feel groggy, or drugged, or particularly altered in any way.  Admittedly, my sex drive isn’t quite what it was.  That does bother me a bit.  The drug is changing me in that way, which I’m not thrilled about, but I figure I have to get through this somehow.  It’s not forever, and it’s an ok sacrifice for now, especially if I get a baby out of it.  The most dramatic change I notice is that, while I register negative emotions in my brain – I’m aware that I feel anxious, stressed, or sad (none of those emotions have gone away – which is good – that’s life) – I don’t feel that visceral, painful pang in my body as a reaction to those emotions anymore.  That must be a good thing, especially as far as trying to conceive is concerned.  No doubt some of that physical pain was caused by stress hormones.

Well, today I felt that pain of stress for the first time in a long time.  A serious, unexpected conflict came up with my work and my upcoming cycle.  Suddenly, they wanted me to travel on certain dates – of course, the dates when I’d be in the thick of stims and monitoring.  No, the dates or times weren’t flexible, everyone would be counting on me, it was a BIG deal high profile event, it’d all fall through if I couldn’t do it, and why exactly was I not available?  Can you imagine anything MORE stressful? (Ok, it’s IVF, there’s ALWAYS something more stressful, but it was pretty bad). Now, I’m not going to change what I’m doing or jeopardize my cycle. Fuck that.  But I was put in a position where I had to tell a near stranger – some man in no position to be particularly sympathetic to me or sensitive – that I was doing IVF, “Sorry, strange and semi-belligerent man who’s never bothered to talk to me before, I can’t be where you want me to be that morning because I have to be at my doctor’s having a wand shoved up my vagina.”  I was backed up against a wall.  AND this is someone I’ll end up seeing later when my cycle is over – and when it might have failed.  Great.  (I think non-IF people aren’t really aware that IVF isn’t an instant fix – that it sometimes just doesn’t work, but I guess that’s another blog post).

Now that my next IVF cycle is ramping up I’ve been feeling a little more anxious than I had been.  I’m obsessing about things a little more and having a harder time sleeping through the night sometimes.  My psychiatrist told me to keep an eye on it, and said that we could increase my medication.  I’m reluctant to do that, because I really want to try to taper off the Zoloft when I finally get pregnant, just to be safe.  The larger the dose, the more difficult the taper will be. Maybe I’m splitting hairs.  I don’t know.  In the light of her recommendation, how do I look at today’s stressful event and my reaction to it?  Does the fact that I got so stressed and upset – mentally and physically – mean that I should up the meds, or was it just a normal reaction to an extremely high pressure and invasive situation?  I guess the question is: how much do these events really cause harm?  Is the fact that I’m up typing this at 4:30 am a cause for concern?  Do I need to be in a constant cocoon of zen peacefulness to get pregnant?  I just don’t know.

I guess the tricky thing is figuring out what a ‘normal’ stress response is in a seriously abnormal situation.  I’ve always said that I thought doing IVF was a lot like being in a science fiction movie.  Ok, now they’re going to insert a long needle through my vaginal wall and harvest my eggs.  Sounds like it’s straight out of “A Handmaid’s Tale,” right? It’s a pretty fucking abnormal, mind bending, crazy experience to live through, if you ask me.  So, what’s a normal, healthy reaction to living in “Alien?”  I just don’t know.

– Patience