Saturday, May 28, 2011

Staring Down the Barrel of a Gun

I've been dealing lately with a variety of symptoms that, while they are not anything catastrophic or close to it, are bothersome enough to have me searching for answers. The main problem seems to be that I'm affected in a variety of ways (different systems), so I can't say I have X and then address it. Trying to pinpoint the root has been impossible. I have a few things going on that are all related and causing symptoms in different parts and in different ways.

Taking into account my medical history, plus all the stuff I've learned in the last month, I feel pretty confident that I've been able to trace a line from stuff I've dealt with in the past (blood sugar issues and bad knees, for example) to what I have now, and I believe I've found an answer and am now immersed in fixing it (there's a fix, that in itself is pretty great). I've been on a bit of a roller coaster, feeling worried, confused, frustrated, and now, empowered and a bit relieved.

But having to face this health matter calls to the front of my mind the one problem I have been trying to avoid dealing with, which, while probably related to the larger health issue, nonetheless stands on its own: my fertility.

I have a suspicion that my PCOS is back. You'd think, given that I was first diagnosed at 17 and that my PCOS has always been pretty mild (i.e., I got pregnant without any intervention when I wasn't even trying), that this would be a non-issue by now, but it's not. And it's not because 35 is a mere year away from me, and I feel like my window will soon slam shut, and whatever desire I may have had for more kids will stay that, a desire, and not something that will be a real possibility for me.

(Let's review some statistics, for the unaware: at about age 35, fertility starts to decline pretty rapidly. A regular woman at age 35 has about a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant (it dives to 5% at 40); for a woman with PCOS, it's always a crapshoot, no matter the age, since the very issue with the condition is a lack of ovulation.)

I look at these facts and feel a hopelessness that completely depresses me. They're grim. They're unsettling. Sure, I have yet to confirm the return of PCOS - but I know the symptoms and the deck is stacked against me (though I'll have a better idea in the next couple of weeks if my hunch is right and can then see my doc about it). And sure, my PCOS is mild, and overall I'm healthy. And sure, bajillions of women are having babies into their 40's. It's all good! I've got nothing to worry about!

But. But. But. There are a lot of those for me. First of all, interventions (IUI, IVF, etc.) are not an option for me. I have no desire or interest in going that route, and I won't. Even the most common and surest (and safest) route, taking Clomid, is not something I want to do. At most, I'm on the fence about that. So you know all those women in their late 30's and into their 40's who are having babies? Yeah, this is how they're having them, and I won't do it that way.

There's a whole other (pretty big) issue, which has nothing to do with PCOS but everything to do with being 35: I don't want to be an older mom. The thought of being 38, 39, etc. and having a baby then is unappealing. I don't want to be in my mid-40's with a preschooler. My son will be a big kid then, and I will be far enough away from infancy and toddlerhood to have any compelling reason to return to it. God, I'm exhausted just thinking about it. My concerns about my fertility and my health are just the stressful icing on this giant stress-cake. If either were to be a serious problem that would result in a troublesome or risky pregnancy, why would I want that?

No wonder, then, that I see 35 on the horizon and feel like a caged lion, going crazy when there's nothing to be done. This has no solution. I'm not about to get pregnant any time soon. Time is my enemy, so it's not like "giving it time" does anything for me. This will grow and compound as time passes. I think a lot about my long-held desire to adopt, about the idea of adopting an older child at 39, 40, whatever. I have no clue how possible that will be, what I will feel at that time. Adoption is no simple matter, and I don't know if it's something that would ultimately fit with my life.

I hate this feeling. I'm relieved to get this off my chest, but man, I'm stressed the hell out over it. And I am. I am so stressed. I see nothing but a problem that's totally out of my control. I'm just standing here watching it all unfold, unable to do squat about it, and it's maddening. It's frustrating.

It makes me slightly resentful of time and circumstance. And in the worst moments, I can't help feel that it's terribly unfair.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/28/2011   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Perfect Size

I've dropped Max off at school and am stuck in the usual morning traffic. I cope by playing music really loudly and letting my mind wander across a wide variety of random topics. This morning, the random topic I'm absorbed with is an order from Old Navy that should be at my door any day now.

I've ordered a couple of pairs of shorts, which is really rare for me. I don't really like shorts, haven't found them flattering since I was a kid, but at the same time, summer is too damn hot for pants and jeans, and I'd like an option besides skirts. I decided this year, without really realizing that I was deciding, to give shorts a chance.

The process has been pure agony. I spent a recent Saturday at various stores, trying different styles on. I hated them all. They all accentuated my thighs, which, trust me, don't need any accentuating. The short pairs are ridiculous, but then, so are the Bermuda styles, each one making my body look odd. The only lesson I take from the experience is that anything from a 5 to 7-inch inseam is what will work best.

I decided to order from Old Navy because I already have one black pair that I bought months ago, as an experiment. I've not worn them out anywhere, just tried them on once, when they arrived. I remember thinking they didn't make my thighs look worse, which is a plus, but that they were snug on my butt. Big surprise. Everything is snug on my butt. Overall, they seemed to work well enough, better than anything else I'd tried on.

Size is a big problem for me. Small waist + big ass = nothing ever looks just right (I'm talking about non-junior clothes, as junior bottoms are a hopeless cause now). Mostly, my waist is a 2 and my thighs/butt are like, I don't know, a 20. I mostly go with size 4's, so my thighs/butt can be comfortable, but this means the waist will be big and gap at the back and will require a belt, cinched tight. Like I said, nothing ever fits just right (and these numbers sound real great until I point out that this time last year, I was a size 0/2. I blame love and happiness, and stress.).

And with Old Navy especially, this is an issue. Their bottoms are total hit-or-miss. I have jeans and pants that are sizes 2 and 4, and all fit me pretty much the same, with minor differences. The 2 may be too loose; a 4 will be tight on my thighs but perfect everywhere else. It's always a crapshoot with them. I don't even bother with their bottoms unless the sale is too good to pass up.

My prior history with them means that when I ordered these two new pairs, I found myself debating what size to get. The black pair are a 4, but sitting at my computer (and not getting up to check), I somehow convince myself that they don't really fit that well; that I've gained enough weight to merit a 6, to have breathing room; that with Old Navy, the same pair of bottoms might require a different size when you pick a different color (that's happened, too, same pants, different sizes depending on the color). I decide to go with the 6 to be safe, as too big can be fixed but too small cannot.

So this morning, stuck in traffic, I'm thinking about all this. About shorts and how foolish I think they look; about a little weight gain that's proving a bit hard to shed (it's more than love and stress, it's also a pesky health matter); about how size 4 feels normal and o.k. to me, but size 6 bums me out; about how I hope these size 6's end up being big on me and therefore the only ones I'll own.

And then, I think of this: "a perfect size 6." This line was in every - every - Sweet Valley High book, used to describe the main protagonists, twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. These girls, the archetypal American girls, the kind all the boys want and the girls want to be, were "a perfect size 6." I laugh. That line is seared in my brain and I'm amused that it pops up now that I'm lamenting size 6. (Another day, we'll cover how reading SVH and V.C. Andrews between the ages of 10 and 13 totally warped me.)

I have nothing against 6, but 2 and 4 are the sizes I'm used to (even that zero was odd, a touch too skinny for my build), the ones I've worn for years. It's what works for me. I don't want that to change.

And then, just as a new topic flits across my brain and draws my attention from this one, I realize something else: size 6 is no longer considered perfect. The twins are from a time that almost seems quaint now, the days before stick-thin images as the feminine ideal bombarded us and anorexia became a goal.

Those twins would be considered fat now.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/25/2011   | | | links to this post