Unsuccessfully Managing My Infertility Anxiety

Years ago, my primary-care physician diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, saying that managing my stress levels will be my life-long battle.  But, if all is going smoothly in life, I can be fine—for years at a time even.  However, throw in some stressful life experiences, and I start to struggle. 

Take this round of trying to have a baby, for example.  I’ve gained 14.6 pounds since March, when I was convinced that I had gotten pregnant naturally because of numerous symptoms, but was frustrated by negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test.  (I’m now convinced my egg was fertilized, but didn’t implant, my problem of the past.)  Well, to be honest, I gained that nearly 15 pounds not since March, but in March, and simply haven’t lost it since, because I’m an emotional eater who copes with anxiety with food intake.  Last night, for example, I ordered a deep-pizza to help me kick-off in vitro fertilization (IVF) Cycle #2, and, you know what?  It did help.

But when I’m experiencing stress, I don’t just overeat; I also suffer from severe insomnia.  I can routinely be up for four or five hours in the middle of the night, night after night after night.  I have heavy-duty sleep medication prescribed for me, because nothing else works.  I’ve tried every medication-free solution, from not drinking caffeine after 12 noon to deep-breathing exercises, with no success.  Tylenol® PM will put me to sleep for a few hours only.  Ambien® led to a crazy episode in which I tried to make a patch for my cat’s infected eye—out of band-aids, as if they’d stick on his hair.  I thought I’d dreamed it, until I saw dozens of band-aids strewn across my bed.  Embarrassing… 

So, my doc prescribed 100mg of Trazodone, which she described as a medication that was originally used for depression, but, because it made patients zombies, was changed to a sleep aid.  It is very effective, but it’s strong, and I want my body to be as medication-free as possible in case I get pregnant, so I’m not taking it.  So, I have to live with the insomnia. 

This morning, I woke up at 12:45 a.m. and couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I got up and started doing laundry, picking up toys, reading the papers I hadn’t gotten to yet.  I have no control over whether or not I get pregnant, so I try to gain some minimal amount of control through these small accomplishments—the folded clothes in the laundry basket, the clean family room floor, the now-read newspapers in the recycling bin.  Because the Gonal-f® and Menopur® make me tired, my insomnia only lasted three hours and 15 minutes, until 4 a.m., when I was able to crawl back into bed and fall immediately to sleep.

Today, I’m already going against my vow to forego caffeine, because I am too tired to function—with my combo of infertility meds and insomnia—without my regular Coke®.  So, today, I promised myself that I will not drink caffeine starting the day of my embryo transfer, because only then would caffeine do any harm to my baby.  Making myself quit in advance was unnecessary overachievement.

What I find most difficult right now is that I am very self-aware, yet can’t turn that into progress.  I have full knowledge of all of my issues.  I have read everything printed (for the general public) about eating disorders, anxiety, insomnia, infertility and its emotional impact, and so on.  Yet I still am subject to the way my body is hard-wired, and it’s hard-wired to be Type-A, to be perfectionistic, to be “anxiety-full” in the face of significant stressors, rather than anxiety-free. 

When my husband and I were first dating five years ago, he was amazed at how Zen I was.  And, I was Zen because, after six unsuccessful donor-insemination attempts, I was finally pregnant.  And, although my pregnancy was high-risk, although my doctor originally told me that I could miscarry at any time, although I was dilated and hospitalized at 27 weeks (of the normal 40-week pregnancy), although I was hospitalized again at 31 weeks because I was further dilated and having contractions, although I was on and off of bed rest, I was at peace as long as my baby was still inside of me. 

So, I just need to hold on through this period in which I’m unable to manage my anxiety and its repercussions, because I will hopefully be pregnant soon, and then Type-A, Generalized-Anxiety-Disorder Me will become Zen Me.

Feel free to say prayers, send good wishes, and keep your fingers crossed for me…

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