Photo courtesy of Jessie Glockling

Femara And The Great Not-Okay

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Romper's Trying project follows five women with very different stories through a year of trying to conceive. Where discussions about fertility often focus on the end goal, they'll document what it's like emotionally, physically, and spiritually before you get there — the anxiety, the hope, the ovulation kits, the tests. How do you function when getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term isn't a given? Read on for one woman's answer to that question.

Jessie has been married for three years and trying to conceive for one year. This is the sixth installment of her Trying diary. You can read the previous entry here.

“Stress is not good for trying to get pregnant, so you’ll need to minimize stress as much as possible…”

As soon as my doctor said this to me, I swear it was as if the universe took that as a direct challenge. Oh. Okay, I’ll just snap my fingers and the stress will disappear, right? Because that’s exactly how life works. All of the mindfulness and self care in the world could not have prepared me for the stressors about to land on my shoulders. I can’t specifically address all of the stressors, because they aren’t my story to tell; suffice it to say, the person most important to me in my life aside from my partner, my little brother, was hurt and when his world came crashing down around him, so did mine. My own self care fell by the wayside as I went into survival mode for the both of us.

I share quite a bit about my own life, and even though it may seem like it comes naturally and is easy for me to do, it is not. For the first year of my infertility, I did not want anyone to know about my struggles. Not only was I feeling depressed and hopeless, but I felt like less of a person in some way. As if not being able to carry out this basic biological function meant I was not a whole person worthy of love. Keeping all of it inside only served to further aggravate the wound and isolate me from people in my life. Instead of focusing on building myself up, I continued to invest so much of my time and energy on one-sided friendships and relationships that only served to further the need to guard myself and build my walls. And so the walls got higher and higher, and I was fine, and we were fine, and everything is fine, thanks for asking.

Recently, on my way to a cocktail hour for a friend's wedding celebration, fertility medication got the best of me, and Jessie lost her damn mind for a little bit. I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but the letrozole (aka Femara, the medication which my doctor has prescribed to help me ovulate) perfectly dovetailed into when survival mode turned off. It was less than ideal. I was by myself standing at the corner of 2nd and Virginia in downtown Seattle in a cocktail dress, carrying an oversized wrapped gift and sobbing hysterically. I was smack dab in the middle of the worst part of my medically induced cycle. The physical pain was almost unbearable and the bleeding was so substantial that I had sat in two hours of traffic with a towel separating my body from my dress in case I bled through, only to be standing outside of a locked entrance to the building I needed to access for the party.

It was the absolute end of me having any semblance of keeping myself together and pretending like things were managed.

These things on their own are not a crisis. They aren’t even a blip on the scale of stressors in my life up until now, but in that moment Femara was like, nah, this is the worst time of your life, and you’re horrible, and everything is horrible and you can’t avoid it anymore and you need to let that be okay. It was the absolute end of me having any semblance of keeping myself together and pretending like things were managed.

I didn’t tell the happy couple in that moment, because, duh. But when thrown into conversation with others, I was like, “Yeah, I’m super not okay right now, because hormones, and I’m going to drop this gift off and go home, nice to see you all!”

I was not okay, we were not okay, and everything was not fine.

Once safely in the confines of my car, I pulled out my best self-care practices: texting my best friend so that she can remind me that my feelings are valid and that I am everything, communicating my needs to my husband and family, and blasting upbeat K-Pop music encouraging me to love myself on my long journey home. Here is the completely honest and un-sugarcoated truth: I may not be okay, we may not be okay, everything may not be fine, but we are working on it. I am working on it. And above all, for the first time in my life not only do I feel worthy of love, I am learning to love myself, thank you for asking.