I’ve Been Away: Mental health, life, and my sewjo + end of year sewing plans (knock on wood)

Sewing is something I love. But only when I’m feeling good.

Content warning: mental health, infertility, and family loss discussed in this post.

If you follow Sew Busty on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve been struggling with my mental (and physical) health lately. I’ve been experiencing depression, brought on by the death of my grandma, a tumultuous and frustrating fertility journey, and considering the possibility of a career change. All of this happened at the same time, and as someone who thrives on plans and stability, it was just too much change (or even potential change) for me to handle at once.

I lost my sewjo.

But I didn’t just lose my sewjo. I also lost my will to dance — another thing I normally enjoy doing. (I attended my first dance class in four months yesterday.) I lost my interest in cooking — and I love cooking so much that in 2019-20, I took online classes to become certified in plant-based culinary arts. Basically, I lost my energy to do anything other than get through work every day, throw together a quick dinner, and settle in for some TV, all the while distracted by obsessive thoughts about what my life might look like in 6 months, a year, five years.

Struggling to define my career

The job situation was especially hard, I think. If you know me, you know I love what I do. So much of my identity is tied up in my work. My job is in exactly the field I sought to join when I went to grad school, and I use my graduate degrees (and the knowledge I gained through my thesis research) every day.

So when I was recruited for another job — in the same field, at another organization I love — while it was a great honor and an exciting prospect, the thought of leaving my current organization was exhaustingly frightening. I spent 8 weeks grueling over the decision, second guessing myself at every juncture. I can’t even explain how stressful this was, because I struggle to find words to identify why I found it so taxing. I was crying about it almost daily for 8 weeks, though, if that gives you an indication.

And when I ultimately decided to stay at my current organization (with a promotion that included my absolute dream job description), it upset some people whom I respect, and that was incredibly tough. At this point, I’m LOVING my new role, and I’m so glad I decided to stay where I am. I’m at peace with people being upset with me.

Making babies is hard (and expensive)

And then there’s this fertility journey. Let me tell you something: Women’s healthcare fucking sucks.

The doctors basically have no idea why, but my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about a year now to no avail. I’m 29, so age isn’t a factor, and by all accounts, this shouldn’t be this hard.

You know, you spend your whole life trying to avoid pregnancy because they tell you in middle school health class how easy it is to get pregnant. And then you end up in my situation, finally trying to get pregnant, and you have to go to the doctor twice a week for even a hope.

Skip the next three paragraphs (gray background) if you don’t want the nitty-gritty details. The way a uterus-having person’s cycle is supposed to work is this: You have your period. Near the end/just after your period, your estrogen starts rising, ultimately surging. During this time, you grow follicles that will eventually release an egg (or two, in the case of fraternal twins). Your estrogen surge tells your body to then produce luteal hormone (LH), which then surges. This LH surge tells your body to release the egg. This happens, usually, on day 12-15 of your cycle. The LH surge also tells your body to produce progesterone, which aids in implantation and prevents your body from having a period too early.

Some of this happens for me. I have a period, my estrogen rises, and I have an LH surge and ovulation — albeit a bit late, at day 18. But the progesterone doesn’t happen. I get a mini progesterone rise — enough for the doctors to confirm that I am, in fact, ovulating — but not enough to aid implantation or to stave off my period. My period comes ~8 days after I ovulate, which is not enough time for implantation to occur, since implantation takes 8-12 days after ovulation. This short period between ovulation and menstrual cycle is referred to as luteal phase defect.

The thing is, if one’s body is capable of producing estrogen (which mine clearly is), apparently it’s also capable of producing progesterone. I don’t understand the mechanics of that, but this is what my endocrinologist tells me. So the theory for a while was that my body wasn’t recognizing the LH surge and thus wasn’t producing progesterone the way it should have. This was an exciting theory, because it was the beginnings of a diagnosis. But then I had a uterine biopsy (which, yes, almost made me pass out from the pain) that showed that my body does actually react to LH, so we’re really not sure what the hell is going on.

I took a pause while writing this to answer a call from my pharmacy telling me the drug my doctor thinks might help is not covered by insurance. Which brings me to the other part of the baby-making struggle: It’s flipping expensive.

I’m spending something like $1000-1500/month on medical care right now. I’m so thankful that for that promotion and raise I just got, because it’s honestly all going to the fertility clinic.

Slowly starting to feel normal

A couple weeks ago, I got to visit my best friend in Seattle for about a week. It was exactly what I needed. We didn’t do much sightseeing, but instead just spent time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

After that trip, I’m feeling much better. Not 100%, but much better. Well enough to make a bra last weekend, to have another pattern printed and ready to cut, and to have taken a dance class yesterday. I’m starting to feel like me again.

I made the new Porcelynne Jackie sports bra last weekend (stay tuned for a review on the pattern tomorrow!), and this was my first sewing project in a while. It felt good to make a pattern that went together easily. And now I have plans for some more complicated projects. In the next month or so, I’m hoping to make:

Now I just need y’all’s good vibes to make it happen. With luck (and a little bit of self care and therapy), I’ll be on my way back to producing more regular content for Sew Busty again. ❤

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