Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fits and Starts

When you think about it, we are all waiting for something at any given point of our lives. I am waiting on multiple things: on myself to be ready to try again with Dr. Uterus, on my mom's visit this week, to hear from the Golden Retriever rescue organization to see if I passed the phone interview on Friday so that we can graduate to the home visit. Inevitably, though, once the thing that I am waiting for actually comes around, there is always a bit of a let down, as if the anticipation of the thing was far more interesting than the thing itself.

I've come to realize that waiting and anticipating are rather shallow activities. They are passive, like letting life wash over you rather than getting out the door and doing something. There is the temptation to view filling up the time with activities as distraction. I think in fact, that it should be classified as living, not distracting yourself while waiting.

To be sure, there are times when waiting is actually very therapeutic to me. If I get to an appointment early, and can sit there and read trashy magazines, it is almost as calming to me as having a purring cat on my lap. There is something about knowing I can sit there and do nothing without the need to justify that I am doing nothing that makes me super relaxed.

Most of the time, though, waiting is self-defeating for me. I feel as if I have wasted the time waiting and anticipating when I could have been out doing things. On the other hand, I feel that if I had just gone on doing the whole living thing, I would be giving the message that I wasn't that interested in what I was waiting for (never mind that I don't know who would be getting this message).

With infertility, I feel as if I have been waiting for my life to begin - with the birth of a child. I'm only now beginning to realize what many of you are probably yelling at the screen: my life has been going on the whole time and frankly, it's been passing me by as I waited and waited and waited. I have read many blogs about waiting during infertility, this notion that your life is in a holding pattern until this one variable can be worked out. I've done that for three years and I don't feel as if I have much to show for it.

So, for me, what does it mean to start living again? Well, it means making plans without first thinking about whether or not I will be pregnant. It means doing things that I want to do because I don't know when I will have the opportunity in the future. It means getting the dog now rather than after we have kids as Sweetie wants because I want one now. It means just living my life without looking at the calendar.

Like many things, talking (or blogging in this case) is a lot easier than doing. But, I've now put it out there. You lovely ladies (and gents) will hold me to it. You will call me out for twiddling my thumbs or throwing pencils in the ceiling. You will remind me to get off my duff and do something.

So, go, Mrs.X! Get moving!
image: dhammza

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baby, You've Arrived!

I received an email today letting me know that my best friend had her baby on Tuesday. Baby M is a gorgeous beauty of a girl and very healthy. I am thrilled for my friend and her husband, who reported that they are both exhausted. I will no doubt be hearing this one quite often in the coming months and (probably) years. Baby M has wonderful parents who will be loving, kind but still let the kid know who the parents are. What an adventure they have ahead of them.

And still, I would be lying to say that I am not even a little sad. While it is not nearly the level of what it was when she told me that she was pregnant, I can't say that I am completely immune. It makes me miss our babies. I miss that we weren't able to bring them home with us or be utterly exhausted after coming home from the hospital carrying this precious cargo with us.

In the past, I would try to cheer myself up by reminding myself that above all, I believed that I would have a child. Now, I just don't know. What is shocking is that I am perfectly ok with that. I would love to bring home a baby, but I know that it may not be in the cards.

For the time being, I am happy and sad at the same time. I am happy for her that she has this wonderful new being in her life and I am sad for me that I don't. But, I am not sad because I don't know if I ever will.

But, the good news is that I finished the quilt for M on Monday and she was born on Tuesday. Nothing like getting it in under the wire!

In other news, I have posted my first entry on our trip to Paris on my other blog. Check it out!

And, thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments about my last post. I'm very glad that so many of you were able to get something out of it. Isn't that what the blogosphere is for?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Post in Which Mrs. X Puts the 'X' in Existential

Even before our historical soujourn in Paris (did I mention that we saw a pirogue that plied the Seine 3,000 years before the Romans turned up?!), I had been giving a great deal of thought as to what it means to live a full life. How is a full life defined? Who says what is full? Who judges?

For a while now, my definition of a full life required that I have children - preferably my own biological children. I've been clinging to this notion that my one purpose in life is to have children, not because I want them (which I do), but because I'm a woman and therefore it is my purpose. Very Biblical, I know.

I didn't use to think this way. It has only really taken root as our slog through the mire of infertility has gotten longer and harder. In other words, with every passing month, disappointment or loss, it just gets entrenched even further because it is the most fundamental biological function that I haven't been able to fulfill which I must fulfill to prove that I was a woman. Pretty screwed up, eh?

The first clue that this is what is nicely called 'fuzzy logic' is that I don't ascribe it to anyone else. I think other women are a success in their lives if they are happy - no matter what happens to their uterus. My second clue is that I didn't start thinking this way until my first miscarriage, which threw very cold water on my euphoria at finally being able to do that one thing that I was supposed to be able to do. And, more recently, the perspective that I gained in Paris showed me first hand that very few other people truly care whether I give birth to a child and I will probably be more well known if I have an interesting life than if I propogate the species.

Each of these points is slowly chipping away at the wall of expectations that I have built for myself (again nobody else!) but the foundations are still there. Foundations last a long time. We saw the foundations for the medieval Louvre that dated back to the 12th century (personally, I found this way more interesting than the Mona Lisa) and the foundations for the Bastille. Foundations that were laid before my ancestors even got on a boat, and in at least one case, before there even was a New World. Foundations are dug deep and meant to last. They get buried and forgotten.

I need to excavate my foundation, bring into the light, study it and then dismantle it because it is only making me suffer. So far, though, despite all of my rational thought on the subject, I can't shake this idea.

So, I've turned to a radical new place for affirmation that my idea is frankly bull: obituaries. I have always adored reading obituaries. They are truly a person's life resume. They are the record of who you were, what you did and where you went to the rest of the world. Of course your family knows what you did and has special stories about you, but isn't everyone most interested in getting their story out to as many people as possible? For most people, that doesn't happen until they are dead.

What has struck me in recent years reading obituaries is that more often than not, the discussion of the person's life only mentions their children at the very end, usually in the list of survivors. The narrative of their life focuses on them, what they accomplished (other than having children) and what they enjoyed. In short, the focus is on the person's interests, history and accomplishments, but not necessarily that they had children. For most people, you wouldn't think that they had children at all!

You probably wouldn't believe how helpful I have found this, morbid as it may seem, because it provides a great lesson: in the end, it doesn't really matter. When they write my obituary, they will discuss how I met my husband on-line back when it still was not very well known (back in my day, there were no pictures!), I had many interests ranging from history to interior design, I played the flute and the piano and loved classical music, I painted in watercolors and oils, I was passionate about animals and the environment (yes, I am a tree hugger), I took pride in my work and my relationships with those I worked with, I enjoyed traveling and reading.

All of these things are true and absolutely none of them have to do with the fact that (so far) the largest my belly ever got was after an orgy of barbeque. In the end, it doesn't really matter what happens, as long as I can look back and claim (genuinely) that I was happy. And, right now, despite everything, I can say that.
left image: ::: Billie / PartsnPieces :::; right image: caribb

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Somehow I've managed to hold on to some of my post-Paris halcyonic feelings and lack of caring about my past infertility/miscarriage misadventures. This has enabled me to enjoy untold riches: I'm still immune to pregnant women and I've had no trouble working the quilt for my best friend's first baby due next month. I even asked her what the name was going to be! This is huge for me.

Big Red arrived last night and I am - without irony - very happy to have it. The post-miscarriage spot watch is over and I actually have a shot at (gasp!) a normal, non-medicated, interfered with or otherwise manipulated cycle. This makes me want to go buy new shoes and get a pedicure or do something similarly girly and distinctly off limits when someone is trying to get knocked up like going to a waterpark or getting on a rollercoaster! Maybe horseback riding? The possibilities are endless.

And, I have definitely decided to take the month of June off. I'm just not ready to jump back in to the melee. When I do get back in, I want to make sure that I am completely ready and I can't even begin to say that right now. While I am no doubt his favorite patient (what's not to love?), Dr. Uterus can certainly live without my company for a month.

But, I've been rather bemused at myself lately. Who is this girl who uses exclamation points and is chipper about getting her period? Where is our snarky Mrs. X? Did I throw her into the Seine or rig up a guillotine in the Place de la Concorde? None of the above. I just got tired of being negative and whiny. You, dear reader, may not have thought that I was, but I felt it accutely. And, I decided that I was tired of it.

So, I'm trying out the new and improved Mrs. X. She's certainly not all sunshine and baby animals, but she's also not the poster child for Woe Is Me Whine and Cheese. Rather than take bets on how long she'll stick around, I'll just welcome her into the fold and say, stay as long as you like.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Magic Number

I briefly left the desk this afternoon to get the mail and when I returned, there was a voice mail on my phone from Dr. Uterus' office. My HCG is officially 2! Yay! I was shocked since it was 83 just two weeks ago and I was expecting maybe 20s. So, maybe my mellow Paris experience also helped eek out those last little whatevers of HCG from my system. No more Vampira at the lab for me!

Hopefully, Big Red should arrive soon (although no signs right now) and I can try to get back to a normal cycle. Since before we left for Paris, my thinking has been to just relax in June, not start the mock FET cycle and just be. I'm still leaning in that direction and Sweetie is cool with that. We'll see how I feel when Big Red arrives and I have to call in to report the same.

Either way, it is finally over and that feels wonderful.

image: sunface13

Monday, May 19, 2008

What 10 Days in Paris Taught Mrs. X

Bon soir, my dears. As you can tell, I have returned from Paris and I am as mellow as mellow can be. Mr. X and I had a fabulous vacation, full of gorgeous weather, wonderful food, fabulous wine and of course, many adventures. Sure the exchange rate was atrocious and the prices reminded me of New York and London (I swear it was roughly $6.50 for a Coke in a restaurant. Really), but we used these as an excuse to walk everywhere, check out free museums, and linger over dinner.

And, for the first time in longer than I can remember or even quantify, I didn't care about infertility, miscarriages, pregnancy or any of it. I. Was. Free. And it felt damn good.

I can chalk up part of it to the vacation mentality, the knowing that when you wake up in the morning, the most difficult decision of the day is which section of Paris to explore (terrible choice, I know). But, I also think that Paris itself gave me some perspective. Allow me to explain.

On our first full day in Paris, we headed over the to Musee de Cluny which is the museum of the Middle Ages housed in a former abbey built around 1490 - this was before Columbus even reached the Americas, before our little nation was even a blip on the radar screen. Part of the museum's structure is also the former Roman baths built in the 1st - 3rd century. I was literally standing next to stones that were cut over a thousand years ago by hands that are now nothing more than dust. I still think this is so cool.

The people who built these things - the Romans, the Normans, the Gauls, the Visigoths - never probably thought that these buildings would last past their lifetimes and certainly not over a 1000 or 500 years later. They were preoccupied, as we are today, with their lives and making it. In the end, though, the one lasting thing they did that is still tangible is to build these churches, forums, baths, etc. Their legacy, their lasting contribution in the world is measured in stone.

It struck me, then, and again and again during our time in Paris, that my life is so insignificant in the greater scheme of time and the world. It doesn't really matter if I am able to procreate or not - my life won't be judged by that. In fact, in 100 years, it probably won't be judged by anything because no one may have even heard of me. And, probably even more surprising, I am perfectly fine with that.

I also got the distinct impression from the Parisians, both with and without children, were supremely engrossed in one activity and that activity only: enjoying life. Lingering over coffee, people watching at sidewalk cafes, reading in the park. Everywhere I turned were people who weren't constantly checking their Crackberries or hurrying everywhere. It was so refreshing and so different from the life we lead here.

What surprised me even more, though, was how disgruntled the women with children looked. There was one evening as we were heading back to our apartment where we were standing at an intersection waiting for the light to change before we could cross the street. Next to me was a women with a toddler in a stroller. The kid was wailing her head off and looked to have been crying for some time - her face was red and her hair was all toussled. Her mother, though, was just staring into space and I couldn't help but think that what she was thinking probably went along the lines of, "What the hell did I get myself into with this kid?"

Of course, she could have just as well have been mentally composing a shopping list, I'll never know. But the sadness on her face coupled with the fact that this kid was screaming her head off and the lady wasn't even moving led me to think I had pretty much hit the nail on the head.

If I had to sum up what all of this rambling means, I'd say that this trip reinforced what I've been trying to practice for sometime now which is to recognize that having children isn't everything and shouldn't be the sole focus of my life. When you are in the trenches, it's hard to see farther than the next battle in front of you, but, let me tell you, life outside of the battle is pretty sweet too.

Part of our trip to Paris included a complete unplugging from the Internet and TV and I loved it. Yes, you heard that right. I didn't have a TV for 10 days and it was fabulous.

I'm still trying to practice a modified form of this unplugging, so I may not be posting as often for a while. Of course, I could say this and start posting everyday. Anywho, I'm still enjoying the honeymoon from not thinking about infertility as a result of our trip, so I'm not quite ready to delve into my four-letter word project - not to mention the fact that I still haven't finished those damn Atlantic magazines to find the answer to the word question.

Instead, I'll probably entertain with stories of Paris. I doubt I'll hear much grumbling from the masses.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Speaking of Words...

I want to thank everyone who proposed some new four-letter words regarding infertility. I had started off the list with WANT, ENVY, HOPE, FAIR and later added LUCK (which was seconded by Shelli).

Denise added PITY, jp added NEED, ahuva batya (who could use a hug right now if you have a moment) added COST, peesticks added BUMP (as in the dreaded celebrity bump watch), kimbosue added WAIT and TIME, elizabeth added SPOT, EASY and ENDO, shinejil added JUST, paranoid added NOPE, jellybelly added YOGA, gumby added PUKE, and Melanie wisely decided not to provide any seeing as how she could not think of any that were polite and not the real four-letter words. M- how about KILL as in you kill me?

I did think of yet even more: TURN, as in when will it be my turn? and FATE as in the cruel fickle bitch.

Obviously, I have a lot of posts ahead of me. I'll ponder while I'm away luxuriating in Paris, and when I return, the series will start. In the mean time, here's another assignment.

I only recently found The Atlantic, recently considering that it's been around since 1857. I thoroughly enjoy it and find the articles to be well-researched and insightful (well, with the possible exception of Caitlin Flahnigan). The very last page, however, is devoted to nothing short of word smarminess. People write in and request a made up word to describe some strange situation, like I want to double dip at parties, but I know this is bad. A nd then, all of the erudite and well-educated put on their smug thinking caps and come up with some cute catch phrase. Here is the entry from the October 2007 edition (that I am just now finishing):

Oh my, I could have a lot of fun with this. But, I'll let you lovely ladies have the first crack.

When I get back, I'll post what the winners were from here and in the magazine. Be creative!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The New Four-Letter Words (*updated*)

Isn't it uncanny that most truly nasty words in the English language - yes, "those" words - are all four-letter words? With the exception of 'ass', I can't think of one that we use that in its base form isn't just a plain four-letter word. Maybe it's just a co-ink-i-dink, maybe it was planned that way so that someone could generally sweep them all under the category of Those Four Letter Words, maybe it was for expediency so that even the most illiterate could understand and use them. Who the hell (See? Another one!) knows. In any case, I have some new ones that I would like to add to the list. These are the four-letter words associated with infertility:





'Want' is probably one of the first words that children learn (not that I have personal experience with this one - and my mother cannot remember what my first word was, so I can't even use myself as an example. Foiled!) 'Envy' has gotten a bit of a bad rap what with being one of the Seven Deadly Sins and all. 'Fair' is taught in schools as the bellweather of behavior. And 'hope', well, hope is tarted about everywhere from stationary to jewelry and has been reduced to a platitude that makes people feel better.

Each of these words has taken on new meaning in the context of infertility and has a new definition. I had started out just writing a post about why I had this problem with wanting and envying and then I realized that what I was writing was actually multiple posts about the words that we hear and that we use to describe or justify what we're going through. So, over the next several weeks, I will write a post about each word and how it is now a four-letter word when it comes to infertility.

Are there any four-letter words that you would like to add?

*Updated* I thought of another one while reading comments to someone who just suffered a loss: LUCK.
image: mag3737

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Misbehaving Ovary and Other Tales of My Lady Parts

I am currently rather foggy due to the 800mg of Ibuprofen I took about two hours ago after I got home from an emergency dildocam appointment with Dr. Uterus. What fun is this, you ask? Get a glass of wine and pull up a chair.

Last night I had the worst pain I think I have ever had. It was terrible because it was like someone was stabbing my left ovary over and over again. I couldn't sleep because no matter what position I was in, the stabbing would continue. The pain even started to radiate down my thigh! It didn't help that I had two glasses of wine last night and I was reading the super weird, but brilliantly written American Gods so by the time I turned the light out, my head was filled with all kinds of disturbing images. When I did manage to sleep I had super weird dreams.

Needless to say, when I got up, I immediately called Dr. Uterus' service and had myself an appointment made by 8:30. Of course, my Inner DQ was running around in a panic muttering things like "ruptured cyst" and "lose an ovary" and "surgery, surgery!". I called Sweetie who is out of town and discussed contingency plans in case I needed emergency surgery. By the time I made it to Dr. Uterus' office, I just wanted someone to knock me out from the pain, preferably with lots and lots of drugs.

After a surprisingly pain-free date with the dildocam, it appears that my naughty left ovary has, for whatever reason, developed a hemorrhagic cyst. The good news is that while pesky and painful (did I mention painful?), my cyst is not particularly worrisome and will resolve on its own. I have the heating pad clutched to my lower abdomen and the bottle of Ibuprofen within my clutches (although I may have to upgrade to the Vicodin). I just hope the pain subsides before we go to Paris. Mrs. X will be a cranky girl if her ovary is acting out while she is trying to admire the Venus de Milo.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post for confirming that a) boys do not think before they speak sometimes and b) I was not crazy to be really pissed off by what Dr. Uterus said to me. I was so discouraged by that meeting and it was so wonderful to hear that I was perfectly justified feeling this way. Additional props to Paranoid for perfectly describing our collective rage as 'apoplexy'.

Even before my emergency meeting today, I had requested to talk with Dr. Uterus again regarding the mock cycle. I wanted to understand the theory behind it, particularly since so many of you who have done an FET haven't heard of this being done. I couldn't get the cost-benefit analysis. Cost: much pain, lost month and an endometrial biopsy. Benefit: maybe information about what might happen with the actual FET. As you can tell, the costs were outweighing the benefits.

After discussing my cyst, I brought up my concerns regarding the mock cycle. In his view - and this is strictly his view - not doing the mock cycle ahead of time would be bordering on careless. The purpose is to ensure that the particular protocol that is used works on the particular individual such that the endometrium is the right thickness and ready to receive the totscicles. In fact, the gold standard is two mock cycles in a row! Thankfully, he recognizes that this isn't practical and only recommends one. I was still concerned that even with all of this information, the actual FET cycle may still not have the same endometrium results as the mock cycle. He acknowledged that this was a possibility, but it was the best source of information and far better than not doing one at all.

I had also given some thought over the past few days to a possible compromise on the mock cycle. Rather than doing the PIO injections, I would try the new vaginal inserts. He had told us on Tuesday that he has had some patients who have not responded to them, but since it is during the mock cycle, we'll know then rather than during the FET cycle. And, if I don't respond to the vaginal inserts, I will happily poke myself in the ass till kingdom come. He was happy with this compromise and was fully on board.

So, I will do the mock cycle because I know that I will not be able to live with myself if I don't do it and the FET results in a bust. I will always wonder if it didn't work because the protocol failed and we didn't know it because I didn't do the mock cycle. And, with the vaginal inserts, I don't feel as if it is such a huge burden on me for a cycle that is a mock cycle. We would also really be starting to try again at the time that we had discussed, which was July with the mock cycle being in June. The Queen has also given her approval.

I also asked a simple favor from him: I asked him not to tell me any more stories of his other patients. He agreed immediately. He acknowledged that they usually help other patients who feel like they are alone in their struggle - but I told him, I blog, I'm not alone! I am also one of those people who don't particularly benefit from stories of other people's success. He was very gracious and apologized for telling me stories in the past. I immediately absolved him of any guilt since he didn't know that I didn't want to hear them until now.

So, I am finally at peace with our meeting with him and I am on board with our plan for going forward. It feels good, even if my naughty ovary doesn't.