"Grief turns out to be a place none of know until we reach it."
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Good riddance, 2009
"Grief turns out to be a place none of know until we reach it."
Friday, November 13, 2009
Where things stand today...
After two years of trying to conceive a baby, I visited a Reproductive Endocrinologist in Atlanta, where I was living at the time. She believed I was suffering from endometriosis and scheduled a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to make sure. Within a week of my diagnosis, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I flew out to California to bring my mother back to Atlanta with me so I could take care of her. At her urging, I underwent the laparoscopy, and was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis. My RE told my husband Alex and me we had less than a 5% of conceiving without in vitro fertilization. Because my mother hoped to live long enough to see me become pregnant, my husband and I decided to start the fertility treatment. My mom died before we could begin with IVF, but we decided to forge ahead in her memory. I became pregnant after my first round of IVF, only to miscarry weeks later. Alex and I then moved to San Diego. We still have one embryo left in the freezer in Atlanta, but we are filling out adoption applications now.
Friday, October 23, 2009
This Will Be an Everlasting Love, Blah Blah Blah
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sorting through the past
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Newest Mermaid
Sunday, September 6, 2009
La Quinta, Super 8, and Holiday Inn
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
You're so pretty
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The phone rang, and my caller ID identified the caller as my clinic. I answered, looking forward to hearing the words "everything looks great." But instead, my nurse Nancy said, "Unfortunately, I don't have good news for you." My numbers had plummeted. I was told I would miscarry in a few days. "So it's over?" I asked, crying. "It's over," Nancy said.
I have been bleeding, very heavily and with extremely painful cramps, for three days. Every time I look at the pad and see a clot, I wonder if that was my baby.
The week I knew I was pregnant was the happiest of my life.
Friday, August 14, 2009
To tell...or not to tell?
I almost immediately felt protective of the news. But so many people knew we were doing a cycle of IVF, because my husband had to tell his boss to get time off. Also, both my sisters and their families knew, as did a handful of my closest friends. They all knew Wednesday was the day we would learn if I was pregnant. But it felt weird for SO many people to know I was pregnant, considering how early it is. In fact, one of my husband's (pregnant) coworkers chided him, saying, "You're not supposed to tell people until the second trimester."
I know that's the conventional wisdom. But I think that's something my grief counselor would have a problem with. She would say it's a way of having control over something (miscarrying) that you really don't have control over. Besides, this may be the only time in my life I can say the words, "I'm pregnant."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The longest day
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Day 5 blastocyst transfer
There's a chance all five could be dead when they open the incubator tomorrow. But it's my believe that if they'd transferred two into my uterus on Day 3 they probably wouldn't have made it, either, and I can't stand the thought of thinking I'm pregnant for two weeks (again) and then finding out I'm not (yet again.)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The day after egg retrieval
Monday, July 27, 2009
Day eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen
I'm feeling some of the side effects today of that shot: major bloating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety. Of course, most of those symptoms probably also have to do with the fact I'm having my egg retrieval tomorrow morning. I'm worried about feeling sick when I come out of anesthesia. I'm also more nervous about how many eggs they'll find, and the quality of those eggs. The last time I came out of anesthesia (after my laparoscopy) my husband had bad news...I had stage four endometriosis. I hope he has better news for me this time around.
I'm thinking a lot of my mother today. By thinking of her, I feel closer to her.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
This is how I look now. But without the smile on my face.
I spent most of the day napping. I didn't even bother to put on a bra.
I didn't have to go into the clinic today for blood work or an ultrasound, which was a plus. But I have to go in tomorrow.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
During my check up this morning, the ultrasound showed that I now have four follicles maturing at a good rate, at least that's what I think the nurse was telling me. I get so nervous when I'm there that a lot of what is said goes in one ear and out the other. The nurse called me later to say my estradiol level is also where it should be. I don't have to come in to the clinic again until Tuesday. Woo-hoo!
My belly is as large as it's ever been. Even larger than right after I had my laparoscopy, and my stomach was filled with carbon dioxide. I'm wearing pants and shorts with drawstrings, and large shirts that won't accentuate my swollen belly.
Not complaining, though. I'm just thrilled that, so far (and knock wood) my body is responding properly to the hormones.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I'm relieved the first shot is over. For me, the unknown is more frightening than any reality could ever be.
Tomorrow, I have an appointment at the clinic for a blood draw and an ultrasound. I also have to do two injections tomorrow morning, and one at night. Scary, but exciting. And empowering. I feel like I am literally taking a problem that has plagued my husband and me for two years in my own hands, and doing something about it. Very, very empowering.
Monday, July 13, 2009
No Country for Infertile Women
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Drugs, drugs, drugs!
It's kind of a relief. I was worried that my period would start before the drugs could arrive. But now I feel covered, and should be able to start my first IVF cycle without too much trouble.
The weird thing is, the only place I have for everything to fit is on top of the bureau in the guest bedroom. It's the very bedroom where my mother slept when she stayed with us. And the bureau is where I kept all of my mother's medications and nutrition: the syringes, the methadone, the percocet, the pill crusher, the hydrogen peroxide, the Ensure. It's strange to see medications that may help life begin in the very same spot as the medications my mother used at the end of her life.
Monday, July 6, 2009
The $12000 baby
Now, my husband and I didn't try to get pregnant this month. But we didn't not try, either. I've been told I can't get pregnant the old-fashioned way, and if I do, it will probably be ectopic. Yet that hasn't stopped me from hoping against hope that I'm pregnant now and won't have to put myself through IVF.
So I looked up some stats online, and it really would be a miracle if I were. Meaning, it's really, really unlikely. I need to not expect it or even act like it's a possibility, because it's really not.
It's kind of a freeing thought, because then on my first day I can be excited to start a process that might end in pregnancy, instead of being disappointed (yet again) that I failed to conceive.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Some light reading
I'm doing better now, slowing returning to the life I had before my mother got sick. But I worry that the strong hormones I'll be injecting myself with will let all those terrible feelings of loss take over again.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Back to our regularly scheduled program
So, I went to my doctor yesterday for "sounding" and a lesson on injections. The sounding was kind of like a pelvic exam, but quicker and weirder. A doctor came in to the exam room, saddled me up in the stir-ups, and practiced putting a catheter through my cervix and into my uterus, sort of a dry run for the embryo transfer. The docs wanted to make sure there were no impediments to getting the catheter in, and luckily there were not. It did not hurt.
The injection lesson was quick and a bit confusing. I guess I have the option of doing the pre-egg retrieval shots in my thigh or belly. I talked with a friend of my sister's who had IVF five years ago, and she strongly suggested "pinching an inch" of my belly and jabbing there. Seems doable. She said it really doesn't hurt there. This is a time when it pays to have what the commercials call that "annoying belly fat." More fat means less pain.
As for the post-retrieval progesterone shots, my husband will have to do those. They go in the tushy, and those do smart. But I really don't have a choice. This is what I've decided to do, so it's time to suck it up.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I told her everything I wanted her to hear. How much I loved her. How she molded me into someone who was fearless to try something new, even just once. How much I knew she loved me.
I just wish I had the opportunity to tell it to her again, and again, and again.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
January 17, 1938 - June 3, 2009
by Emily Dickinson
The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted opon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –
Monday, June 1, 2009
She had loved them Double
The last book my mother finished reading before she slipped into her coma is called The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. Mom thought it was a strange book, not the normal mysteries or literary classics she's used to tackling. But at one point she took a pen to the book, and circled a passage. She told me to read it. Not now. But later. So I read it last night.
The passage refers to the death of the grandmother (Ammu) of a child named Rahel. Rahel watches Ammu get cremated.
"The steel door of the incinerator went up and the muted hum of the eternal fire became a red roaring. The heat lunched out at them like a famished beast. Then Rahel's Ammu was fed to it. Her hair, her skin, her smile. Her voice. The way she used Kipling to love her children before putting them to bed: We be of one blood, though and I. Her goodnight kiss. The way she held their faces steady with one hand (squashed-cheeked, fish-mouthed) while she parted and combed their hair with the other. The way she held knickers out for Rahel to climb into. Left leg, right leg. All this was fed to the beast, and it was satisfied.
She was their Ammu and their Baba and she had loved them Double."
Friday, May 29, 2009
The Death Rattle
Here's an excerpt from an August 2005 article by Robin Marantz Henig in the New York Times:
"The death rattle is what's so unnerving. People who sit beside someone who is close to death, someone in a stage the experts call ''active dying,'' might hear a sound that's not quite a snore, not quite a gurgle, not quite a rasp. It doesn't hurt; it probably isn't something the dying person is even aware of. But it sounds terrible.
''Once the so-called death rattle starts,'' says Charles G. Meys, a hospice nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, ''that's usually an indication that the person is not coming back.''
The sound, made with each intake of breath, is merely air moving across phlegm. ''Healthy people can cough it up or spit it out or swallow it,'' Meys says, but a dying person is just not strong enough, so the secretions collect in the upper airways. ''And as they breathe in and out, it makes that sound -- that sound that we have learned to fear.'' To those watching, the person seems to be gasping for breath, asking to be saved.
Meys tells family members that he can offer atropine to dry up the airways and soften the death rattle, and most of them ask for it. ''But it's not for the dying person,'' he says. ''It's for the family.''
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
When she was still lucid and aware of her surroundings, my mom loved to hear my niece Regan sing a song called "Connected" to her. Four-year-old Regan makes the song her own, with lots of "oh, yeahs" and a special dance to go along with it. And now, even when Mom seems so very far away, just humming that tune can bring a smile to her face.
I decided to look up the lyrics to this song, which is actually from some Barbie DVD. But I got a chill reading the lyrics, because they're exactly how I feel about my mom now, and how I'll feel about her always.
I feel connected, protected, it’s like you’re sitting right with me all the time.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Never say never
In this very blog I have, on several occasions, claimed I would never do IVF. The thought creeps me out, I said. And then I had my laparoscopy.
Doctors grade endometriosis on a scale of one to four, one being slight, and four being severe. Turns out, I'm a four. I had polyps, and ovarian cyst, and loads of scar tissue. One of my fallopian tubes had been deformed by the disease. The doctor told my husband after my surgery, whilst I was still in my anesthesia haze, that I had a less than five-percent chance of getting pregnant naturally. But, she said, I was a very good candidate for IVF. And giving birth would actually help me recover from my endometriosis.
At first I resisted, hating the thought of putting my body through so much, with no guarantee of a positive outcome. But it's something my husband wants. Really, REALLY wants. And so because we are partners, I have agreed to try at least one cycle.
Tomorrow we go in for a consult with my doctor to discuss exactly what a journey through IVF-land would entail. Yikes.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Life, meet Wrench
Oddly, this has been a sneaky blessing. I am closer to my mother now than I have been in decades. Things that used to drive me crazy about her no longer bother me. And I'm gaining confidence in my ability to be a mother. I find I have patience and stamina that I didn't think I was capable of.
My surgery is still scheduled for Thursday. My MIL is coming to town to help with Mom while I'm recovering. I'm sure many madcap high jinks will ensue...
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
A definition of minor surgery
Thursday, April 16, 2009
From Zero to Sixty
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But an article I've just read has given me pause:
Not because it sounds like it doesn't work. But because it involves "internal massage." That just doesn't pass the heebie-geebie factor for me. That might make me immature, but unless it has a 90% percent success rate (it doesn't,) I don't want someone reaching inside my lady business unless it's a doctor.
There are other massage avenues. I was once told by a massage therapist that I desperately need cranial-sacral treatment. I never followed up. Apparently I have blocked passageways (?) in my head and neck. Maybe it's something I should look into.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Close your eyes and think of England
Well, it was even worse this time around. My mother-in-law was in town for Passover. My bodily fluids led me to believe I was about to ovulate, as did one of those horrible ovulation predictor kits. We had no choice. Once MIL decided it was time to hit the hay, we followed suit. Again, we turned the trusty air purifier to its loudest setting. I gave my husband the same sage advice Victorian women would give their daughters before their wedding nights: "Close your eyes and think of England."
The next morning, I saw that my temperature had risen. I don't know if that means I ovulated, or if there's another reason my body temp is up. I do know that my husband may have to fly to Norfolk, Virginia this weekend for work, and it's a $700 round trip so I can't accompany him. Looks like we may have another month of non-success. I can't look at it as failure, because of the adoption option. I want to be a mother, whether or not that includes a pregnancy.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Time is not on my side
Dr. Dorothy Mitchell-Leef is a partner of Reproductive Biology Associates, which specializes in the area of in vitro fertilization. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and is an associate clinical professor at Emory University School of Medicine and specializes in the diagnosis and care of infertility, egg cryopresation and donation, and endometriosis.
This is an article she wrote last month:
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Of course, the initial impulse towards open adoption is fear. Fear that the birth mother, once seeing how adorable and snugly her baby is, will want the child back. Fear that having a regular relationship with his or her birth mother will make our adopted child want to leave our home and live with her. Fear that somehow, our adopted child won't consider us Mom and Dad the way he or she would if the child never met the birth mother.
But if I'm honest with myself, I realize these are all selfish fears. I've got to ask myself, what's in the best interest of our future adopted child? What would I want if I were adopted. I think I'd want to know who my birth mother was as soon as I was told I was adopted. It's just such a huge unknown for a child to handle, and if there were pictures and notes from the woman who gave birth to him or her, perhaps it would be easier to accept in the long run. And there wouldn't be the fantasy of a perfect birth mother out there, waiting to rescue him or her from the daily struggle and troubles of a real, loving, noisy, messy family.
I hope the seminar is as enlightening as I need it to be.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I spent most of yesterday doing online research on adoption. As I was immersed in my cyberspace studies yesterday morning, I had my I-pod playing some tunes to keep me company. There is one song on my list that I have not been able to listen to since I moved from San Diego to Atlanta one year ago. It's called "Either Way" by Wilco. Before I left, it was my four-year-old niece's favorite song. Every time we drove somewhere together, she'd implore "Play Either Way! Play it loud!" And so I would, over and over again. I would look in the rearview mirror, and see her singing along to the words she knew by heart, as if she were performing for an audience. After I left San Diego, it was simply too painful to listen to the song and not have her there to sing along with it.
But yesterday, when the first few guitar licks of the song played, I didn't fast forward it. I just sat there, to see how long I could take it. I made it through the whole song. I think the belief that I might soon have a little person of my own to sing songs with helped ease the pain I have about living so far away from my niece.
Then, about a half-hour later, my cell phone rang. My sister's name appeared, so I eagerly answered. The voice on the other end was my niece's. I think she has called me three times since I moved, because she doesn't like talking on the phone. But she chatted away, as if I were just across town. "I want you to take me to school one day. I wish you lived closer. I love you. Do you have volcanoes where you live?"
Here are some of the lyrics to "Either Way":
Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will roll away
Maybe I won’t be so afraid
I will understand everything has its plan
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
"Sure enough, as if it were meant to be all along, we waited not the usual six months to a year for our first child. Instead he came almost immediately, ahead of the crib and already named. A newborn whose birth mother chose us, he flew into our lives like a tiny tornado, washing away my sins and assuming, as babies do, that I was as perfect and blameless as he was."
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thus, part of me is depressed, realizing I'm getting my period early. The delusional part of me wants to believe it is implantation bleeding, and a symptom of early pregnancy. I also feel nauseated (alas, a side effect of Prometrium) and I have a headache (probably due to allergies.) Unfortunately, I can't take my ibuprofen/Benedryl/caffeine cocktail that would knock the thing out, because I don't have solid proof yet that I'm not pregnant. Oh, how I long for a Benedryl, if only to allow myself to sleep all day so I wouldn't have to feel the sting of disappointment yet again.
On the upside, when my husband saw me crying this morning, he vowed to contact his sister's friend about adoption. And one of my best girlfriends informed me that her close friend recently adopted a baby boy. So, hopefully she'll connect me with her friend, and when Aunt Flo parks her Winnebago in my driveway, it won't be so hard.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I decided I needed a reality check. I took a pregnancy test. Now, it's a week before I'm due to get my period. And the test instructions always say to use first morning pee. But I needed to see a negative pregnancy test, just to remind myself not to get my hopes up.
Then I got very sad, because some part of me believes if I were pregnant, it would somehow show up on a test. Or maybe it's become a Pavlovian response by now: see a negative pregnancy test...become devastated.
I'm feeling better today, trying to keep busy. Counting the days until I can take a test again.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Online pregnancy tests
My younger sister has urged me to stay off of the Internet during this sensitive week. There are too many websites and chat rooms with misinformation and urban legends. According to some of the sites I've visited: you should wait until the day you missed your period to take a pregnancy test, but you could also take it a week before; brown blood is definitely a sign of implantation bleeding, but also a sign of infertility; and you need to "relax" to get pregnant, but you should also take your temperature daily, check your cervical mucus, take a ovulation predictor test five days out of the month, stop drinking, don't get a massage, don't take hot baths, and be sure to shut one eye and hop on your left foot during a full moon.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Baby from another mother
She mentioned a close friend of hers who had just successfully adopted a newborn from Virginia. The process took about a year, a timeline that shocked me. I assumed it took about five years. The parents were in their mid-forties, and only married for a few months, and still were able to adopt a baby. The realization that I, too, could become a mother soon despite my difficulty in conceiving made me feel hopeful for the first time in a long, long time.
In an ideal world, I would give birth to my own child. But I also know, through my years of babysitting and volunteering, that I can love a child that is not mine genetically. I believe there's a little soul out there, waiting to become my child. It may just have to travel through another woman's body before he or she gets to me.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This is the fourth cycle I've been on Prometrium, and it's making me fat. That may sound shallow, but I've spent most of my life as a skinny girl. To see rolls of chub develop around my midsection takes my breath away at times. I know if I become pregnant (knock wood) I would have to adjust to my body growing in strange places, and I'd welcome that. It's just gaining the weight with nothing really to show for it that troubles me. I've started to exercise more, and decrease my drive-thru visits. Hopefully that will firm up the chub a bit.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Five infertility factoids
5 Things You May Not Know About Infertility
Men and women are equally likely to be infertile, and other facts to know about fertility problems
By Michelle Andrews
Posted March 17, 2009
1. Infertility affects roughly 12 percent of people of reproductive age in the United States, or about 7.3 million women and their partners.
2. Infertility is gender blind: It affects men and women in equal numbers. The most common problem in men is low or no sperm count; for women, it's problems with ovulation.
3. Nearly all cases of infertility—85 to 90 percent—can be resolved through traditional medical treatments like drugs or surgery that repairs reproductive organs.
4. In vitro fertilization and similar procedures account for under 3 percent of infertility treatments.
5. The average live delivery rate for IVF in 2005 was nearly 32 percent per egg retrieval, slightly better than the 20 percent odds that a reproductively healthy couple in any given month will get pregnant and carry a baby to term.
Source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Monday, March 16, 2009
That time of the month
This is also the time of the month where I start to wonder if I've conceived. I start to feel psychosomatic pregnancy symptoms, symptoms I couldn't possible feel yet because even if I had conceived, I wouldn't be pregnant yet. I start to play with the idea of how completely wonderful it would be if it FINALLY happened. I imagine how I would tell certain people the news. And then I realize how far ahead of myself I am, and that I need to reign in my overactive imagination until I get a little more evidence.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Is it right?
I guess it's an evolutionary thing. The desire to have a child of my own, to carry on my gene pool (and my husband's) overrides any intellectual argument against having kids. More later.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
But here's the weird part. I also gave my avatar short hair. Right now, I have long hair. Every five years or so, I chop off all my hair, and it makes me feel really good for some reason. Maybe it's something weird like, even if I don't have control over my life, I still have control over my hair? Wacky, I know. But in order to create a self-fulfilling prophecy (or self-fulfilling avatar?) I'm getting my hair cut today. Short. Not just because of the avatar...it was something I was thinking of doing anyway. But it can't hurt, can it?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Oh, but here's a link to some tea info: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/herbaltea.html
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I've become one of Them
I vowed to myself that I would never become one of those people. Someone who got pregnant because nothing else was working out in her life. And frankly, I couldn't imagine any other reason to have a kid. I had spent my high school weekends and college mornings babysitting for other people's kids. It was fun for a while, but ultimately exhausting. I wanted to be someone in my own right, instead of staking my claim to fame on being someone else's mother.
But then Skyler came along. My niece was born in 2004, about six weeks after I met the man who would one day become my husband. The overwhelming, instant love I felt for her as a wiggly, colicky infant has grown exponentially as she's developed into a witty, brave, strong, and compassionate four-year-old. I am never as happy as I am when I'm with her. Those unexpected feelings, along with marriage to a man I knew would make an outstanding father, turned my world upside down. I wanted to become a mother.