Tanika (USA): It takes a village
April 24, 2017: the phone rang and I could see on the Caller ID that it was my OBGYN. My heart sank. I had been in on Friday for bloodwork. I answered the phone and my worst fears were confirmed when the nurse said, “Your hCG has dropped by 20,000. (Silence) You’re having a miscarriage and the doctor wants to see you right away.” It felt like the earth had opened up and was swallowing me whole. It had all been such a blur since finding out I was pregnant at 45, processing it emotionally, accepting it and then finally looking forward to having a second child. Now, just as suddenly as it had begun, it was all gone. Two days later was ‘Take Your Child to Work’ day; I stayed home and consoled myself with mountains of ice cream.
May 7th: I turned 46 and decided I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to get pregnant on purpose this time and bring home a healthy baby. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I had no idea how much my mettle would be tested. It was to become not only a journey of improved health, but also of increased self- awareness and ultimately empowerment.
As of February 12th, 2018, I am currently in my Two Week Wait (TWW). Once you start trying to conceive (TTC), you join this secret society, filled with acronyms, injections, medications, OPKs, HPTs, tears and hope. A lot of TTC women have suffered the loss of a child (born or unborn) and are striving for their rainbow baby. A rainbow baby is the one who is born and survives after the loss of another baby, the angel baby. So here I am in my TWW after IUI#3 and my heart is filled with hope. No matter the outcome, I am proud of myself, proud of what I have accomplished and proud of how far I’ve come. These thoughts comfort me during the TWW whilst I strive to keep occupied, so as not to be preoccupied with the most pressing question in the universe. Did I conceive this cycle??
A high point on this journey has been that this cycle has been my best one yet. My FSH is 7.79, down by 42 points from last cycle. I have reduced my BMI, exercised, eaten well, rid my house of toxins, meditated, envisioned, received acupuncture, increased my yoga practice, been seen by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and taken a class for women struggling with infertility led by a psychiatrist who specializes in infertility after her own battle. I am very much into data and metrics, so all of that looks really good on paper and I am proud to log it down. However, the physical and mental transformation is not something I can quantify as readily. I’m just different, altered for the better and overwhelmingly grateful.
In December, after a BFN, I got the crushing news that my FSH was too high to continue with a medicated cycle, 50.1 to be exact. I was told to “sit this one out” and we’d test again next cycle and see if we could move forward. IF?? I frantically consulted Dr. Google only to find that an FSH of 50 indicated menopause; not perimenopause, but just plain old menopause. I was devastated. Was it all over, would I not even be allowed to try one more time with my own eggs? My RE had already been pushing donor egg IVF and my insurance would only pay for IVF if I used a donor egg. Since I had a living child, I wanted to first try using my own eggs, so the children would be biologically related. Also, during this process, my partner and I went our separate ways, so I was using donor sperm. (Infertility can wreak havoc on all your interpersonal relationships.) Donor sperm and a donor egg…it just seemed too sci-fi for my feeble brain to understand. I was going to have to tackle the FSH to get it back within range and do everything possible to get my body prepared to conceive and deliver a healthy, happy baby derived from my own egg.
As a way to nourish my desire to create, I became a YouTuber. I started a channel called Simply Tanika to chronicle my TTC journey: the good, the bad and the ugly. I documented a lot of my changes for all the world to see. I would have previously described myself as a modest woman. Now I openly discuss my menstrual cycle and all sorts of bodily functions, for anyone with an Internet connection to see. The channel gave me something to focus on, afforded me the opportunity to be a creator and most importantly provided access to such a wonderful community of TTC folk. We are all cheering each other on and sharing advice and tips: it is TTC crowdsourcing nirvana. Hopefully we will all get to our end goal faster but in the meantime, we’ve made friends for life, no matter the outcome. A few ladies have recently got BFPs and it sends a wave of hope throughout the community. I am cautiously optimistic that I will soon join those ranks.
Before suffering from infertility, I was very keen to listen to whatever my doctors would say and followed it exactly. However, with infertility, it isn’t an exact science and ultimately I believe that there has to be divinity involved in order to create new life. After battling infertility and becoming a part of the TTC community, I learned that I have to advocate for myself and also inspire my health care professionals to advocate for me. It is only through this partnership that I have been able to see my FSH restored to that of someone 15 years younger. I also employ the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including acupuncture and coordinate that treatment with the treatment I get from my RE. All of my health care providers happen to be women, including my therapists, and the majority of the supporters in the TTC community are women. When I do my visualizations I am surrounded by all these women who are collectively sharing their wisdom, expertise and loving hands to help me bring home a healthy happy baby. It truly takes a village and I am grateful to be an active member of that village.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly with questions as I would love to answer any questions or address any concerns you may be having on your own TTC journey. I think most of the TTC women agree, it is not a community we would have chosen to be a part of, but once you are in, it is an amazing source of strength and hope.
To contact Tanika please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her You Tube account Simply Tanika (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1cXaxSLov4dJvrvztjK3A).