Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Real Reel: Tokophobia and Infertility

I wrote this last week, and wasn't sure if I was actually going to post it. I went back and forth, because doing so would be putting myself VERY out there for the world to see, but I ultimately decided to do so, in the hopes of helping anyone else struggling with similar things to realize that you are not alone

Saturday, August 26th 2017
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting today. I think Facebook is one of the best and worst inventions of my adult life. It is amazing because it allows us to keep in touch with so many people we would have otherwise lost contact with years ago. It is amazing because it helps us to reconnect with friends we thought we would never see again. It is amazing because we are always up to date on birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and any other event of a friend or family member. It is amazing because we never miss anything.

Conversely, it is terrible because we never miss anything. It is terrible because it gives most of us anxiety in some form or another. There are even studies out there that show how Facebook usage has been linked to anxiety/depression. It is terrible because we become a slave to the app, the notifications, the checking to see how many likes or comments we’ve gotten on a post. It is terrible because we inevitably end up wasting hours upon hours of our time on it when we could have been doing something productive, or reaching out personally to a friend, rather than posting to all 2361 “friends” we have.

It is terrible because it somehow leads everyone to believe that they must only share the good in their life, and it skews our own reality and those with whom we associate on Facebook. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be proud of our accomplishments, but our lives are very one-sided on Facebook. We post the highlight reel. We hide the real reel. When we’re struggling, we don’t usually post. We assume either (a) “people don’t want to see this side of me” or (b) “*I* don’t want people to see this side of me.”

I’m going to change that right now, for me. I’m going to stick myself out there and be vulnerable. I’m going to look past both A and B and show the real reel. This is not for sympathy, but more to let any of you out there struggling with the any of the same things know that you’re not alone. Because I have felt so very alone on this for so long.

1.     I have tokophobia
2.    I have infertility problems
3.    This is a TERRIBLE combination

To start, here is the definition of Tokophobia:
Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and can lead to avoidance of childbirth. It can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary is morbid fear of childbirth in a woman, who has no previous experience of pregnancy. Secondary is morbid fear of childbirth developing after a traumatic obstetric event in a previous pregnancy.

For brief context. There are 2 reasons why I feel like tokophobia is a little different than many others:
(1)  Most phobias can be conquered in baby steps. While I believe all phobias can be conquered, some are easier than others. For example, if someone wants to conquer their fear of spiders, they can do it in steps. They can start by looking at one behind a glass cage. Then looking at it out of a cage from a distance, then being closer to it while someone else holds it, and eventually holding it themselves. At any point in any of those steps, if they can’t handle it or need to take a break, they can remove themselves from it. Once you’re pregnant, you’re pregnant. There is no easing your way into it. There is no “wait hold on, slow down.” Once you’re pregnant, buckle up. Because there is no turning back.
(2)  Most phobias are usually considered irrational. For example, someone who is claustrophobic may have a panic attack if stuck in a small space. But there is likely no real danger present. However, pregnancy and childbirth still kill women each year. Are the odds high in developed countries? No. But it’s still a possibility.
·         A few years ago, I had a friend whose wife was expecting their second child. One day, she just died. Her symptoms of a greater issue mimicked the same symptoms of pregnancy, so no one thought to test for the greater issue as everyone figured it was just normal pregnancy swelling, etc. It wasn’t the pregnancy that killed her, but it was the pregnancy that caused her symptoms to go undetected.

This is not even something I realized I had until I was married. But after some therapy and deep reflection, I was able to trace it back to witnessing a traumatic birth when I was 12 years old. From that point on, I wanted nothing to do with babies. I hated babysitting, I ran the other way if someone said “come feel it kick”, I never wanted to hold so&so’s new baby, and I most definitely didn’t want to hear about any friends or family’s birth stories. For years, I had no idea why I was like that.

Subconsciously, I was also afraid of intimacy of any kind. My first real boyfriend wasn’t until I was 22. Sure, I wanted to date. In fact, I desperately wanted to date. But again, subconsciously, I knew that dating could lead to kissing, kissing could lead to sex, and sex could lead to pregnancy/labor, so I was always scared to get close to anyone, and ended up likely scaring off many potential suitors.

The following year, I met Eric, my now husband of 7 years. Family is greatly important to both of us. Of course I wanted to be a mother. And I wanted us to have kids together and have that idyllic life everyone dreams of. We (I) decided we should wait a year before starting to try for kids. (At this point, I still had no idea I suffered from Tokophobia). I said I wanted us to have a year to be able to get used to marriage and all the changes that would come with it before throwing a baby into the mix. Year 1 ended, and for reasons x, y, and z I said I need another year. Eric was patient and waited another year. It all came to a head one day when he was upset (understandably so) because I kept trying to push it further down the road. He wanted a valid reason, and I didn’t have one- I didn’t know why I kept wanting to push it further. Suddenly at the peak of this “discussion”, I blurted out “because I’m terrified of being pregnant!” That was news to me just as much as it was news to Eric. I never understood ME until that moment.

I started going to therapy and somewhere in year 2-3 we started trying for kids. My anxiety was so high that the day after the first time we tried, I had to call in sick to work. I couldn’t function. I now had to wait several weeks before I knew if “this was it.” Every waking moment of every day with any slight change in behavior or cravings, I would stop and think “does that mean I’m pregnant?” After 5 or 6 months of trying, I was late. I was terrified and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even tell Eric. I had never been so conflicted in my life. On one hand, I desperately wanted a child – I wanted to start our own family. I wanted to be “Mom”. But on the other hand, that would mean there was no turning back and that thought terrified me. Turns out, it was one of those rare months where I was a few days late. Relief and grief set it simultaneously. One more month of safety from pregnancy, but one more month of failed attempts and no children.

Eventually, I just wanted to get it over with. I felt like each month I was riding a roller coaster that was slowly getting to its highest peak, and right before it dropped, the ride broke down and I had to start over. I felt it so cruel that someone who fears pregnancy to this degree struggles this much to get pregnant. I just wanted it to be over with. I wanted to GET pregnant so I could start working through the emotions.

After about a year with no success, we decided I would go back to school to get my MBA. We weren’t having any success, and going back to school was something I’d always wanted to do. Thanks to such a loving and wonderful husband for encouraging me to do this. Since MBA programs can be quite rigorous, we decided to take a break from trying. I would need to be able to focus on classes, internships, networking, job fairs, etc.

A few months before I graduated, we started trying again, but still with no success. Each month was that awful mix of emotions where I was so relieved that I didn’t have to live out my worst fear, but so devastated that we still had no family of our own. It’s really quite difficult to put into words that dichotomy of emotions. Turning 30 was especially hard for me. So many of my friends my age had not 1, but sometimes 2, 3, or even 4 kids. I still had none. I tried to keep busy so I wouldn’t think about it. Eric and I decided to do a community theater musical together in summer of 2016. By the end of that run, 3 women in the show had announced they were pregnant. It felt like I couldn’t escape. Whether in real life, or on Facebook, everywhere I turned, there was another announcement of another friend of mine who was expecting.

I finally got to the point where the desire for children outweighed my fear, (this by no means lessened the fear) and in November of 2016 I mustered up enough courage to go to an OB/GYN and actually get tested. I cried the entire visit. A few weeks after that visit, I found out that my younger sister, who had recently married, was pregnant. Words cannot describe the pain I felt at that announcement. To be clear, I held no ill-will toward her. I was happy for her. This was what she wanted, as nearly every husband/wife eventually wants. Some women desire to be mothers from the time they are young, and this was my sister. She was finally going to get to fulfill that dream. But, that didn’t make it any easier on me. I couldn’t even think about it without welling up with tears. I had many breakdowns the following weeks.

Due to a job change and subsequent insurance changes, we had to put things on hold from December 2016 to March 2017 before trying again. Once March rolled around, we resumed trying. Month after month, still no success. Month after month, anxiety day in and day out always wondering if “this was it”. I tried to keep busy so I wouldn’t think about it. Eric and I did another summer show. Someone we knew came to see our show and she was 8 months pregnant. She was also unmarried. And I cannot explain to you why the first thought that came into my head was “has she considered adoption?” but that was all I could think about. Eric and I talked about it later that night and he had thought the same thing; but how do you bring something like that up? I had another pretty low moment that night, and almost on a whim, Eric posted (with my permission) to Facebook that we were interested in adoption if anyone knew of anyone.

She saw the post, and we ended up meeting with her the following week. She was very open to the idea. We called a lawyer to see what the necessary paperwork would look like, etc. She hadn’t decided 100% yet, but the odds seemed pretty good. Suddenly, for the first time in years, that constant pressure I felt of “I should have kids by now” was lifted. The pain I felt every time I saw another “we’re expecting!” announcement, subsided. The guilt I felt for letting tokophobia make our journey even harder was finally gone. The fear attached to babies for so long was no longer there. I tried not to get too excited, but I couldn’t help it. We were likely finally going to be parents! And *I* wasn’t going to have to go through pregnancy/labor to get a little one! My sister was due the same month, so it looked like she and I were going to end up having babies at almost exactly the same time, just through different means! Suddenly, that pain wasn’t there either. I finally felt relief. I finally felt peace.

Then, the birth mother let us know that she had decided to keep the baby. We were devastated. (We don’t fault her for it at all – we knew that was a possibility and she of course has every right to that decision.) I tried going into work the next day, but 2 hours into the day, I couldn’t function. Any time someone tried to talk to me, my eyes welled up with tears. My boss let me take the rest of that day off, to which I will be forever grateful.

Suddenly, without warning or preparation, ALL of those emotions I had been temporarily freed from came surging back, like a force to be reckoned with. Once again, I felt inadequate, broken, frustrated, and beaten down, and I hated getting on Facebook to see how many people were happily announcing their newest addition. It was this point when I decided to start my Facebook Fast. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I needed time apart from social media, because it was only sinking me deeper.

About a week after we got that news (and 2 days into my Facebook Fast), my sister had her baby. A few days prior, I had finally called back the OB/GYN to get my test results from eight months ago. They told me they would call me that Friday. I got a call that my sister had had her baby, and a few hours later, got a call from the OB/GYN telling me that Eric was actually fine, but that the issue was with me, and that I needed to start taking a medication to improve our chances. Somehow this news was just the trifecta of news. Within a few short weeks: a failed adoption, my sister had her baby, and I found out that very same day that I’m the reason for our difficulty getting pregnant.

Honestly, I think the Facebook Fast saved me from even more heartache and pain. It was so liberating to not constantly see all these people move forward in an area of life I wish so desperately to move forward in. As I stated in the beginning, this is the real reel. This post isn’t meant to end with a happy ending – the ending hasn’t happened yet. Eric and I WILL be parents one day. And I WILL overcome tokophobia one day. The next step is to take this medication and see what happens. Once pregnancy actually happens, I also fully intend to keep an active blog of my journey for anyone else out there who suffers from tokophobia. To all of you out there who desperately want children, but have tokophobia and/or infertility problems: you are not alone.

Note: If anyone wants to talk to me about this, PM me on Facebook and I'd be happy to discuss. (

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Can I Please Slow Down Time for a Month?

I'm beginning to feel like I'm spreading myself a little too thin... 

In September, Eric and I decided that I was going to work toward getting an MBA. So, I signed up for a GMAT prep class (since I haven't touched a math book since 2003) and it has been going great. I've even found a study buddy in the class and she and I get together 1-2 times a week now.

Classes in Provo are Wednesday from 6-9pm and Saturday from 9-12am. But then I got an offer to be part of a bell choir - which I love, and hadn't been a part of since 2004 - but they rehearse on Wednesday from 7-9pm. So, now I go to the Tuesday GMAT class in SLC, and bell choir on Wednesday night...also in SLC. I typically study with my friend on Thursday evenings, leaving only Mondays and Fridays available (Eric works Tues/Thurs/Sat evenings anyway), and something somehow manages to come up every week to fill those nights. 

This week I worked a full regular week and then spent 12 hours on a set today for a commercial... and while I was there, an opportunity opened up for me to work another Saturday day-gig... So I thought, "Well, if I work next Saturday, I can just go to the SLC Thursday version of Saturday's class," but then I realized "wait a minute..." I'll still be in San Francisco. Oh yeah, I leave tomorrow morning at 5am for a business trip in San Francisco and won't be back until Thursday night...already missing one GMAT class, one bell choir rehearsal, and a pre-screening of Hunger Games that my company is hosting. Even though I have a friend who'd gladly share her notes, should I really miss another Saturday class? But, broken down into hourly, that Saturday gig is almost 3 times what I make at my regular day job, so it's very, very, tempting. But now that I think about it, I don't think I'd have enough time once I got back from SF to go prep the equipment (I'd have to borrow some from a friend) and be ready by the morning. 

This past week, Eric and I also found out when our company parties are and they are both on days that I have bell choir performances, so I'm going to have to miss both of the work parties. I take the GMAT on December 14th, and I have bell choir performances the 10th, 13th, and 15th. But even if I didn't have those, my company part is on the 13th, so either way, I'd have something the day before I took the test. Also, the last day of the GMAT prep class is the morning of the 14th... or I could go to the Thursday night SLC one again that week... but I have to take it on the 14th because I leave for D.C. on the 16th!

Ugh!! Are you feeling stressed yet? Because I sure am!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Countdown: Plans

The countdown has begun. Eric leaves in 12 days. 

As silly as it sounds, it seemed like the day would never actually come. And part of me feels silly because he’s only going to be gone for four months – not a year like your average deployment length. It’s just Basic and AIT. But still, the longest we have ever been away from each other has been a few days! It’s going to be an adjustment for sure. Practice for the future, right? *sigh*

Luckily, the first 6 weeks I will be extremely busy. I will be traveling 2 separate times, and working many long days, so that time will hopefully go by quickly. But that crazy schedule ends on June 30th. Then there is all of July, August, and most of September. I did get a roommate for the summer though, so that’s nice. And I have my cat to keep me company. :P 

Everything that I have read about "family separation" says to keep as busy as possible. Don't let yourself ever end up just sitting, etc. So, I plan to keep myself as busy as possible!

One thing that I have always wanted to do, but never actually been able to solidify is volunteer at a children’s ward in a hospital. I don’t know why, but I just feel like it's something I need to do. I got really close to being able to do that when I lived in California, but the hospital required an iron clad agreement to specific days and specific hours that I unfortunately couldn’t commit to with a film/freelance lifestyle. 
There are currently two hospitals within a 5-mile radius of my house right now and perhaps by putting it on here, I will be more likely to actually follow through with it when I get back in July. 

I also really want to volunteer at the Bishop’s storehouse and/or the cannery. I don’t know a thing about how I go about doing that, but I think I would really enjoy volunteering at either place from time to time. I’ll have to look more into that this summer.

It has been a long time since I have written music…a long time since I’ve even had my keyboard out in the open. I think I may try to get back into that again this summer as well. Ooh! Maybe I’ll actually find time to try all those crazy things I’ve found on Pinterest! Haha. Okay, I haven’t actually been on that site in probably a month and a half, but I’ve already acquired plenty of “I want to try this” stuff to keep me busy for quite some time.

Oh and something else I plan to do as well… Our food bill will be cut in half or more this summer! Eric is a bottomless pit and we go through so much food! But with him gone this summer, we will most likely save a ton on regular groceries, but since that amount is in our budget and we have almost zero food storage (we went through most of it last year), I plan to take the excess each month and put it into food storage/emergency preparedness stuff. I’m actually quite excited about that.

The reason for my excitement on something like that is because Eric and I both have this impending feeling that we need to become as self-sufficient as possible as quickly as possible. Do any of you feel that way?? That is a big reason I have gotten so into essential oils and herbal remedies the last year or so. We are constantly told to be prepared, and if I’m around when that day comes that everything hits the fan, I’d like to be rather well-versed in alternative medicinal treatments that I can take care of my family without the assistance of doctors.  

Here I go again with my novels. Maybe that’s why I don’t write very often – they always turn into far more than a little blurb. But I am trying to get back into the habit of frequent entries, so bear with me. Too much info is better than no info at all, right?? :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Army, Jobs, Felines, and Houses

Wow… it has been almost four months since I’ve written. I don’t have any real reason, but I guess it just seems like nothing too terribly noteworthy has happened. Well, I got a job (in January), which is definitely noteworthy, but it’s not filled with crazy stories of adventure.
Oh, and we got a cat. YAY! And Eric officially joined the Army Reserves. Okay fine, so a lot of noteworthy stuff has happened and I’ve just been a lazy bum and haven’t written about it. I think I will become better at writing this summer, since Eric will be gone for Basic and AIT from May 21st to September 18th. L Our first long-term separation.

 Let’s see… Eric was officially sworn on January 27th I believe. I was SO bummed because due to some miscommunication, I wasn’t able to make it to that. I had had a fantastic job interview the day prior and they wanted me to come in that same day. I scheduled it for an earlier time, knowing Eric’s Army stuff would be later, but turns out, it was earlier… and I was in my interview. Dangit! But as bummed as I was, Eric said “don’t worry about it – go to your interview. What if this is the job you’ll actually get?” Good thing I did, too – that was the job that I got!

My first day was on the 30th of January and it has been great. It’s a company called MoneyDesktop and if any of you have heard of, it’s kind of like that… but a million times better. It’s not one that you can just go sign up for like Mint, though... it has to be offered through your financial institution. But it is fantastic. Job aside, their program alone saved our lives! I can FINALLY budget accurately now! I know exactly how much money is going into what category and how much is left, etc. There is also a debt program that uses the snowball effect to help you get out of debt as quickly as possible. The software is absolutely amazing.

The job itself is pretty easygoing. I think some people would get stressed out by it at times, but I MUCH prefer to be overloaded with stuff than sitting on my rump twiddling my thumbs. Those are actually the days I hate – when I am trying desperately to fill the time with something to do. The first month I was there I was absolutely swamped! They had been without an Office Manager for almost 2 months and were behind on a lot of things. The office was also incredibly unorganized, so I spent a LOT of time putting everything in order with my mad organizational skills. I even labeled all of the drawers and cupboards in their supply room and break room!

Turns out, not only am I the Office Manager, but I am also their travel agent, HR assistant, Payroll assistant, and in the beginning I had to take out the trash as well! Luckily, they have since established an official janitorial service. (Phew!) I have become VERY familiar with airport acronyms, the best and worst hotels, etc. I also get handed the very oddball projects that others in the office give me. Oh, and I run errands whenever necessary.

I think he's loving his new home!
Now, about our cat… basically, I love him. He is wonderful. We rescued him from a shelter and he is the sweetest (and weirdest) cat. I’m pretty sure he is convinced that he is part dog. He was so desperate for a friend that even when my sister-in-law brought her toy poodle (Chloe) over, Jasper immediately tried to play with Chloe. No hissing whatsoever – just immediate “play?!” mentality. It actually took Chloe longer to warm up to the idea than Jasper! …weird. He also greets me at the door every day when I come home. And he is my shoulder cat. If anyone picks him up, he will immediately climb to your LEFT (not right) shoulder… and if you try to put him on your right shoulder, 9 times out of 10, he will make sure he gets back to the left one. Haha.

Now, Eric is allergic to cats, so we knew that getting the cat in the first place would be risky. However, Eric really wanted me to have a friend while he was gone this summer, so he let me get a cat. :D Oh, by the way, his name is Jasper. Eric got bronchitis around the same time we got Jasper, so we still aren’t sure if it was because of the cat or not, but I’m happy to say that Eric is almost completely over his bout of bronchitis and now seems to be doing alright with the cat.  (We also bathe him once a week and I brush him several times a week).

In the last few weeks, we have ripped up our carpet and replaced it with the fake wood flooring. No, we don’t own our own house, but our landlord is awesome and has been wanting to update our place for quite some time, so when we bring up suggestions, he usually agrees to them (thanks to Eric’s parents, their history with house renovations, and the fact that they used to live in the ward and thus our landlord knows and trusts us Smiths!). Earlier this year, we ripped out the bottom half of the walls in the living room (it was nasty pale lavender wallpaper that wouldn’t come off), Eric and his dad put in new drywall, mudded it, textured it, and then Eric and I painted it. Once our landlord saw how much better just that looked, he got really excited about putting in the flooring (we had a baby blue carpet from the 70s) to make it look even better.

While they were finishing putting the floor in (we didn’t have to do that part, thankfully!), Eric and I found a sweet looking rug on KSL for $25 and we promptly picked that sucker up. It looks fantastic! I am actually excited to come home now! I actually want to be in the living room! It makes me smile every time I walk in.(I promise to take/post pictures of it next time!!)

Goodness, I really should get back into the habit of more frequent updating – otherwise, my posts turn into miniature novels! I have more to say, but I will leave it at this for now, since it is already novel-length. But in a nutshell, Eric joined the Army, he let me get a cat, I finally found a job, and our house looks a million times better now. Downside: Eric leaves in less than 2 weeks. :(