Friday, July 4, 2008

Experimental Independence

While I am pretty Rainman-esque in my habits, there are times when I get a whim and run with it. Today's whim: switch to Wordpress. I know there has been some controversy over their "best day ever" policy, but I am frankly in love with their templates. The simplicity, the professional look, the neato pop up thingy on the blogroll. I may decide shortly that this is a short lived experiment, or I may just declare my independence from Blogger forever.

For now, though, you may now find me at: The Young and The Infertile (now with more infertility!) on Wordpress. Ta ta!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Series of Left Behinds

My first indoctrination into the concept of The Rapture was when I started working at my current job. Back then, I was still an office gal and so every morning, I would drive to to office and park the car next to that of our office manager. Her license plate holder always intrigued me: IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED.

I thought it was an odd statement. Up until that point, my only exposure to the concept of 'rapture' was the kind you find in bodice-ripper literature. While nothing is out of the realm of possibility, I had a hard time seeing our very proper office manager announcing to the world that she would abandon all caution when driving in the event of unmitigated pleasure, let alone that she would attempt unmitigated pleasure while driving. I chalked it up to the general rule about the Quiet Types and left it at that. I thought about asking her, but if it was what I thought it was, frankly, I didn't want to know.

Then, I happened to read an article in Newsweek about the Rapture (the capitalization gave me a clue that this was a proper noun rather than an adjective of desire) and it all clicked into place. Of course, the car would be unmanned. She would be up in heaven while the rest of us were left to slog it out down on earth. I thought this was just fascinating. There were so many practical issues - when would it happen? what if you were in the middle of something really really important (like on the can)? what if not all of your family came along? do pets go too? what do you do up there? do you watch everybody else slog it out? who is considered to be a true Christian? is there an appeals process if you think you are and you aren't called?

Not surprisingly, there is a very popular series of books about what happens after the Rapture, the Left Behind series. I haven't read them myself, but they are very popular.

I have to admit I've been feeling a bit left behind this week. We are in that excrutiating state of moving forward with very little momentum since it is a mock cycle. No hope for pregnancy What. So. Ever. Nada. Zip. Zero. I'm popping my nightly Estace but I can't quite convince myself of the progress that it represents. Our actual FET seems ages away in August.

We are also increasinly being left in the reproductive dust of our friends. A couple we knew and hung out with in the town where we used to live just had their second child, their first child having been conceived right after we started trying. So, three years on, we have the dubious distinction of two miscarriages and they have two kids. And, of course my best friend now has a 1-month old baby girl. Our other friends' baby just turned 1 in May. We are officially down to two other couples that we know who don't have children.

With each new child, we lose common ground with our friends as they ascend to that new place where we can't follow.

With every child, we are left farther and farther behind.

I know we are not in a race, but how long will it take before we are all on equal footing again?

image: buddhakiwi

Monday, June 23, 2008


Despite my outwardly blase appearance toward 'trying' this month - me trying to get pregnant? Not! Watch me as I down my martini while riding a roller coaster, then soak in a hot tub for an inordinate amount of time, follow it up with pure caffeine pills and finally, hang on for dear life on a ride with a thoroughbred race horse - inwardly, I was secretly hoping for the ultimate surprise: a conception that required nothing more than two people, some wine and a bed. Things were really promising too, since last year after my miscarriage, I had the period that would not end and ultimately got a progesterone shot in the ass to re-set the ole system. This time, it was a picture perfect cycle.

So, on Sunday morning when I noticed some spotting, I knew that once again I was thwarted and we would be back on Dr. Uterus's roster of Unfortunate Infertile Couples.

A few days earlier, when I was still holding out a teensy bit of hope, I saw a woman walking in front of my house with her two year old. I had seen her before and the beginnings of a tell-tale bulge, but I had chosen to think that her t-shirt was just bunched in an odd way. This time around, though, it was obvious that she had The Bump, and I decided in my infinite wisdom that she had acquired The Bump in the way that most people do - in the privacy of their homes, without drama or fanfare and most certainly without needles, drugs or other paraphernalia. And that depressed me. Who was I to think that we would be able to do that - even now, more than three years since we started down the road to expand our family? What a silly infertile girl you are, thinking that you could get knocked up like everyone else. Don't you know that you're Special (and not in a good way)?

Such is the internal monologue of an Infertile Girl.

Once again, I am coming to terms with the fact that I will most likely not be able to conceive on my own, for whatever reason, and that assisted reproductive technology is my ticket to the Baby Game. I used to find this incredibly unfair. Now I've progressed to mildly unfair. Progress! Two-plus years of having the same thought over and over again will tend to smooth it out, rought out the edges and leave a smaller (and hopefully less painful) nugget than when you started.

Being that it is CD 1 today, I called Nurse To a T (Dr. Uterus's right-hand lady) and scheduled the mock cycle for the FET in August. I tried not to think about the fact that we also started trying again last year in August after the last miscarriage and it was a bust. I'm trying not to believe that I am only fertile in February since that is the month when I have gotten pregnant two years in a row now. I start the Estrace tomorrow (that's a new one for me) and will do the PIO injections starting in July. I had originally decided to go with the capsules (Endometrin?) but two things mitigated against it - expense and we won't have the results of an endometrial biopsy for almost two weeks, during which time I will be starting up for the real-deal FET. If the Endometrin didn't work, that would be a terrible time to find out. So, it's back to the butt shots for me.

And, just for sh*ts and giggles, I'll pick up an HPT to make certain, before I start pumping my body full of estrogen, that there really is no alien invasion. I'm not expecting a last minute reprieve, but it's a lot easier to pee on the stick when you don't think you're pregnant than when you do - which is probably why I hardly ever indulge.

Never a dull moment, here at the Young and the Infertile. Will she? Won't she? Tune in to find out!

image: jillhudgins

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Advice to the Young at Heart*

* Total props to whomever can figure out where this is from. No cheating!

People, I can't tell you how many posts I have started and then stopped this week (well, ok, it was three, but who's counting?). I have lots to say, the written diarrhea is backing up, but I can't quite find the right words to express it. I have lots of ideas written down - but none seem inspiring. Where is my muse? Does infertility even have a muse? If it did, I would imagine that it would be Melpomene, she of tragedy. Thalia could be the pinch hitter if good ole Mel was hitting the town one night, desperate for a little levity after the woes of the infertile world.

Maybe I should take the cue of the Greeks and write of cautionary tales and other mythology (although I thought it was so freaking hysterical that they recently reported that the vast majority of ancient Egyptian scrolls discovered in 1896 were torrid romance novels full of porn. 2,000 year old porn, people!). Or perhaps, since it is the season of graduation, I should write my speech as the graduating speaker - which will likely never happen, but if the woman who spoke at my college graduation could actually be invited, there's hope for me yet.

Ah, yes, I think I will indulge in a little navel gazing, but instead of addressing acne-ridden teenagers who are aching to go get trashed before the ink on their diplomas dries, I will speak directly to the me that ten years ago this year graduated from college. Lord knows I could have used some words of wisdom. Here goes:

Dear Ms. X,

You have now been out of college for a month and frankly, you're a bit of a mess. No forward momentum to propel you to the next adventure, no plan for the future. Knowing what I know now, here's some advice for getting through then.

Seek engagement (no, not a marriage proposal). I know how much you loved college - the friends, the sense of being and fitting in that you never achieved in high school, and I know how hard it is for you to say goodbye to those things. I don't think it would be possible to recreate the experience that you had in college (and in some respects, you probably don't want to), but remember how wonderful it felt to be engaged, learning, constantly introduced to new ideas and new people. You now have to seek those things out for they will not come as easily.

Lighten Up. I do remember very well how much you thought of yourself and how seriously you took things. I'll just say two words: lighten up. Nothing you experienced in your 22 years in any way compares to the shit storm you will run into later in life. Failure to start lightening up will result in a nasty five-year hangover down the road.

Be compassionate. Remember that no one's life is a bed of roses and nine times out of ten, the person who is making your life difficult has a lot of difficulty themselves. The one out of ten person is probably just an asshole and not worthy of further thought.

Be gracious. You know the Golden Rule, but it bears repeating. Treat others as you would have them treat you - even if they don't hold up their end of the bargain! Not only do you get to ride the moral high ground, you have done a good deed that has lightened someone else's burden.

And, most importantly, be mindful. You have your whole life in front of you. Now is not the time to rush it.

Smooches, Your Older, Wiser Self.

ps - those birth control pills that you were taking for endometriosis? Totally not needed. Throw those bad boys out (but still use a condom!). Use the money you would have spent to buy stock in Apple. You could pay for numerous IF treatments off of the earnings. Just a thought.

What would you, dear reader, tell your younger self?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Say Hello to My Little Friend

When I was about 10 or 11, I decided that I wanted a cat. I have no memory of what possessed me, but chances are it was that I decided this was just what I thought I needed. Up until then, we'd had no pets since my parents both worked and I was at school most the day. My father couldn't bear having a dog knowing that it would be alone all day and he was not partial to cats (oh, how times have changed on that one! He now has this t-shirt. Seriously).

I needled, wheedled, begged, whined, pleaded - everything to get a cat. When they finally gave in, I said no thanks. Why? Well, in addition to being a Grade A manipulator, I realized, even then, that what I really wanted was to know that I could do it. I could get them to agree. Once I realized that that was the goal, I had won. It wasn't about the cat at all - it might as well have been a bike. Needless to say, I didn't have a cat (or any pet) until I was married. That time, I truly wanted a cat.

I have to wonder, though, if my sometimes physically painful desire to have a child is just a more grown up manifestation of the same thing. Do I want it this badly because so far I haven't been able to do it? Has the whole process become another challenge to overcome with the final victory not having a child to parent for the rest of my years, but just producing a living baby? Is this my Petulant Inner Five-Year-Old (who is kissing cousins with My Inner Drama Queen) throwing a hissy fit because I was told "no?

I will be the first to admit that I have gotten most everything that I wanted and those times that I didn't usually were directly related to something I did or didn't do. In other words, not since I was a kid have I been denied something I wanted without my usually having something to do with that denial. (Perfect example: I *would* have graduated from grad school cum laude if I had paid more attention in one stupid class that I took my very last semester and gotten a better grade.)

Yet, I also can't remember feeling this much physical gut-punching pain as I do when I hear that someone I know is pregnant or has a baby. It is literally like a punch in the stomach. And, surprisingly, what is so painful to me is not the idea of having this child, it is the loss of the more pedestrian things that go along with being pregnant - getting to wear maternity clothes, picking out cribs, painting nurseries, picking names. And most of all, it's having Pregnancy Innocence. I lost that one the first round out of the gate, never to be seen again.

After the initial gut reaction, my inner 5-year-old immediately stamps her little foot, crosses her little arms, and through a pouty little mouth yells, "That's not fair! That's what I want! I want to count the little toes! I want to look at cribs! I want to pick out nursery colors! I want, want, want!" I want everything that goes with being pregnant, including having the healthy child at the end. Most of all, I want to feel as if I have a legitimate chance to make it to the finish line.

Although, again, is this just my desire to complete that which I have not been able to? The best way to get me motivated is to tell me I can't do something. Works like a charm every time. But, what was accomplished? This is not the same as getting into a better class at school. This is a child, more of a lifetime commitment than anything I have undertaken. Am I seriously treating it as a challenge like a marathon or a goal to accomplish in and of itself? I have this terrible fear that we are successful and that baby is placed in my arms and all I can say is, "What now?"

I suspect, as with all things, that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I had similar concerns when we got Fluffy and the Bad One five years ago. I was very honest with Sweetie that I was afraid that I would lose interest once they were no longer kittens. After all, they were adorable kittens doing what kittens do so how could I possibly find them interesting when they were older, more sedate kitties? What I didn't count on was that they would wrap me around their little paws just as easily as if they were swatting a string. I, of course, have loved them from the day we brought them home and in fact, love them more now that they have gotten their "kitten years" behind them. Just goes to show what I know.

Maybe it is best to have compartmental goals - 1) get pregnant, 2) stay pregnant 3) worry about actually raising child when we get there. Small bites, small steps, small goals, all lead to a big mountain. For this process is in part a marathon, with each phase being another leg of the journey.

I will leave you with a quote from Lance Armstrong in that epic story of success in the face of absolute failure, Dodgeball:

"Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?"

Truer words have never been spoken.
image: readerwalker

Friday, June 13, 2008

Maybe I'm Not as Erudite as I Thought I Was

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you this announcement:

Are you freaking kidding me? I use SAT words people! Ambivalent! Orthodontics! Copious! Affirmation! Misadventure! Manipulated! I write for a living! I pontificate! I hypothesize! I use freaking multisyllabic words (including multisyllabic)!

Obviously, my pride has been ruffled, my feathers strewn.

What's even more amazing is that I took this little test a while ago and my blog's level was undergraduate. Now, I've been demoted to junior high status. Like, OMG. Maybe I should start watching the OC and High School Musical.

Do you agree with this dear reader? Can this possibly be correct?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mind the Gap

I have a gap in between my two front teeth. It's not particularly noticeable (unless you are me, who notices it all. the. time). It used to be a much larger gap, but thanks to the magic - and pain - of orthodontics, it is now a dainty little thing at the bottom of the teeth that leaves curious bite patterns in apples.
image: flyzipper

I am 32 and Mr. X just turned 35. There is a gap of three years in our ages.

There is a cavernous gap in between my ears where, supposedly, my brain is supposed to be. I think it goes AWOL alot.

There is a yawning gap between me and my first cousins, due in large part to the extreme dislike my father has for their father, his brother. I don't really know my aunt and uncle.

By far my biggest gap, though, is the gap between what I expect will happen to me and what actually does happen to me. It is also the hardest gap to get over. There is no magic jump, no equation, no mathematical formula, or easy numerical explanation. It is a gap.

I know that I need to somehow bridge that gap, find the neutral ground, the median, the way forward through the center. The easy way, of course, is to stop having expectations. That's pretty hard to actually put into action. We are surrounded by reminders of what we should expect - the weather is predicted for us down to - literally - the nth degree, store ads tell us that we should expect to give presents to our fathers on Father's Day (and of course, contribute to the economic well-being of the nation), we even say that a woman is 'expecting' when she's pregnant. Expectations are all around us - both external and internal.

To be able to just abandon those one day is a Herculean feat and one that I don't think I am up for. So, now that I have eliminated the first option, what's next? First, it is to recognize that there is a gap - there will always be a gap between what we expect and what we get. Sometimes the gap will be teeny, other times it will be ginormous. Somehow knowing that there is going to be this gap makes it a little easier to accept it.

Then, well, still try to work on letting go of expectations. I can let go of expecting rain and getting none. It may be much harder to let go expecting that I will be able to carry a pregnancy the whole way through. But, I'll try.

That way, it will be one of the best surprises of my life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Voices Carry

A few months ago, I gave up reading newspapers online. Instead, I opted just to get the headlines for two delivered to my Google Reader: The New York Times and the Washington Post. I needed a filter so that I wouldn't go through so much stuff that just upset me. For the most part, it's worked out really well. Until today, that is.

I was flipping through the Google Reader and saw that Lori had posted, and although I had lots of work to do, I clicked on over (she always cracks me up and who doesn't need a laugh in the morning?). Funny story about SATC (yes, Charlotte, some girls do get pregnant after they decide to adopt, but most don't!) and then, wham, I saw it. A story about infertility in the New York Times featuring PJ! I couldn't click fast enough.

I can't explain why it was that in reading about infertility, and PJ's experiences in particular, in print made so much of an impact on me. It was if we, as a community, had gone viral, legit, out and proud, whatever you want to call it. I listened to the six voices of women with infertility and I found myself nodding at each one - yep, thought that, that too, oh yea! that one! There was a validation there that I didn't even know I was looking for. The idea that six women were willing to talk about this in public and let it all hang out for the lack of a better term, gave me a certain sense of optimism that some day, more people will understand how hard this.

My optimism was curbed almost immediately by the insensitive-bordering-on-outright-dumb comments that some people posted in response. I shared some of them with Mr. X and he just shook his head, and like the good Libertarian that he is, declared that they were entitled to their opinion. I was less sanguine.

Still, our voices carry. I had forgotten how far they can go. Hopefully, more people will see how hard this all is even if they themselves are not afflicted and recognize that all we ask is to have the same right as everyone else to have a child.

[Mrs. X exits her soapbox. Film at 11.] image: circulating

(Note to my friends who have not dealt personally with infertility but who read this blog: this post was not about you!)

In other news, I must be a popular girl. I have been tagged not once, not twice, not even three times - but four times! And, they're not even the same meme. I've already used up most of my existential energy this evening, so I will attack the easier of the two tonight: you in six questions courtesy of seriously? and loribeth.

1) What were you doing 10 years ago? Well, I had just graduated from college not even a month before and went home with my parents. I know, big dork, but I knew I wanted to take a year off after college and veg before diving into grad school. So, I was painfully adjusting to living back until the parental roof while trying to find a meaningful (and decent paying) job. Many growing pains ensued.

2) What are 5 things on your to-do list today? Today is almost tomorrow, so I'll list tomorrow's to-do's in no particular order: put an iron choke hold on my work to-do list so that I don't feel so freakin' far behind, pick up Sweetie's dry cleaning, don't forget my dinner date up the street, go to the vet to get more pet food, and try to finish the scrapbook I'm making about how I made the quilt for my best friend's new baby.

3) List some snacks you enjoy: Almonds. I need my protein in the afternoon to keep going!

4) What would you do with a billion dollars?: start a foundation to promote conservation, pet adoption and my other pet causes. Fund scholarships for kids who wouldn't otherwise go to college. Invest the rest and live off of the interest - maybe buy a house in Australia, I love Sydney, but otherwise not change much in my daily routine!

5) List the places you have lived: I have to be kind of vague here so I don't blow my intricately laid cover. But, I'll say that I've only lived in three states in my entire life, in two different time zones.

6) List the jobs you've had: a babysitter, library assistant (book shelver - I loved it), resident assistant in college, membership coordinator at a gym, federal employee, clerk at art supply store, teaching assistant, and now my current job, of which all I will say is that I get paid to play with words.

Whew! For my three, I tag Farmwife, Lesley, and paranoid (who had a great ultrasound today!). Thanks to my peeps, Admin, and pepper - I'll get to your tags soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

From Never! to Absolutely! in A Few Short Years

The house where we lived when I was in middle school and high school was in a new development (well, new back then). We were one of the first families to move in. The house to our right was purchased by a confirmed bachelor - very nice guy, engineer, with a wonderful dog.

His confirmed bachelor days ended pretty soon after he moved in when he got married. Several years later, they welcomed their first child, a boy. A few years after that, they had twins. One day, after I had my own car and drivers license, his wife asked if I could drive her and the twins to the airport - she had to change out a ticket (this was before the Internets, people!). We loaded up the car with me, her, the kids and all of their paraphernalia and headed out.

While she was inside dealing with the ticket, I sat out in the car with the children (this was also pre-9/11 so you could still park your car at the curb of the airport). As an only child, I had limited exposure to little kids when I was older, so I was exceedingly uncomfortable having two screaming infants in my car even for a few minutes. What would I do if they really started crying? How would I explain it to some authority figure as to why I had two screaming children? I could do calculus, but I couldn't do babies. Talk about poster children for birth control!

My neighbor must have seen how uncomfortable I was with two screaming infants, because when we got home again and the children were safely ensconced, she tried to reassure me by saying, rather condescendingly, that "you'll feel differently when you have you're own."

All I could think was, "Fat chance, lady!" I couldn't even see to my high school graduation, let alone having children. I was, to put it mildly, not entirely convinced back then that I would get married, let alone pop out some progeny. Ambivalent didn't even begin to describe what I was feeling (I think "militantly anti-child" was closer to the truth).

See, I was not one of those kids who a) knew they would have kids or b) even wanted them. I hated playing with dolls, playing house or planning my dream wedding. At the same time, I wasn't exactly a tomboy. I was just me: bookish, but quirky, with a love for Chuck Taylors and a wicked CD collection.

By the time I met Sweetie, I still wasn't entirely sold on the idea of having children. I was in my first year of graduate school and trying to keep my head above water. Of course, our talk came around to this topic generally. I tried not to freak him out too much so I just simply said, that I didn't really know if I wanted them. In later years, he claimed that I was adamant about not having children and I explained to him that I wasn't adamant, I just didn't want to scare him off by even bringing up the topic.

The thing is, I didn't decide that I wanted children, until I met the man I wanted to have them with. He was the first man that I had dated who I even could picture myself having children with and who would be a good father. So for me, deciding to have children was less a function of my biological clock than it was a function of totally changing my mind. At the same time, I don't know if all of me has caught up - I still catch myself at restaurants with screaming children being thankful that they aren't mine, or that I can still sleep in if I want to, go out on a moment's notice, etc.

Maybe I will feel differently when it is one of my own.

Thank you to everyone who posted with their thoughts on how to break my funk. Each of them made my day a little brighter. Yesterday was better - I had a great day with my mom and we didn't talk at all about my infertility. It was nice to have a normal conversation. We went to the fabric store to show off the quilt I made, then grabbed some lunch, and headed to my favorite consignment store, finally stopping at a cross-stitch store that I hadn't been to. It was really nice.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Where Did All the Clouds Come From?

These past few days, I have been feeling what can only be described as 'emotionally delicate'. My equanimity of the past few weeks has abandoned me (I sincerely hope only temporarily) and I feel deflated, depressed and battered.
image: visulogik
Where did all of the clouds come from so quickly?

I suspect it started with my best friend's announcement of the birth of her first child last week. I am still thrilled for them, and am genuinely happy that she has a beautiful baby girl. I am also thrilled that I finished the quilt on time. But, - and there is always a but, isn't there? - I could not shake this feeling that she has embarked on a journey that so far, I cannot follow.

She is a mother. And I am not. And this hurts more than I want to admit to you and to myself. I have this profound sense of loss, as if I am re-experiencing my miscarriages all over again, whenever I think of it.

Why does this hurt and hurt so badly? Surprisingly, it is not the Green Envy Monster at all. It is just this deep seated ache, right behind my breastbone, dull and constantly throbbing just under the surface. There is also a little bit of shame mixed in, as if I feel like I have to explain why my body hasn't been able to do this one little thing so far. And the memories of all of the hopes that we had when I was pregnant for the first time. There is the crushing uncertainty of whether we will have that happy moment of carpet bombing our friends and family with pictures of what our love (and untold riches) created. They have all come rushing back - welling up into tears in my eyes and that familiar tweak in my nose just before I sneeze.

The result has been the usual depression - as if my body feels twice its normal weight and I'm being dragged down by gravity, but also copious amounts of tears shed over things that while sad are not really worthy of copious amounts of tears (case in point: I finished the biography of Marie Antoinette and was unconsolable at what she went through at the end). There is also the pressure, as if my head was in a vice, maybe from all of these feelings swirling around in there just trying to get out.

In short, I am a mess. I am a walking Cymbalta ad. I would like nothing better than lie in bed and stare at the wall, but, I don't. I have work to do, deadlines to meet, people to service. My mom is here and I can't bear the thought of ruining her visit with my depression.

I just can't seem to get past this myopia of each minute ticking past that I don't have a warm infant in my arms or a baby in my belly. And, right now, short of overdosing on kittens, I don't know how I'm going to get out of it. All I can see is what I don't have.

But, I will find a way. I always do. Most likely it will be a good cry and some careful sharing with Sweetie. I will also investigate whether my thyroid is somehow involved - my metabolism has been all over the place recently.

What do you, Dr. Reader, suggest I do to get out of this funk?

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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off With His Head!

Well, it would seem that my Inner Drama Queen likes it here in la-la-land and has once again appeared. Maybe it's a Tuesday thing. Maybe it's just that time of year. Or, maybe I'm genuinely losing it and she's taking over a la Jekyll and Hyde.

Suffice it to say that I have found myself wanting to yell, "Off with his head!" several times today. Honestly, no one really deserved it, but She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn't understand the niceties of society that there are in fact very few offenses that would warrant that. (In reality, I'm a staunch death penalty opponent, but she didn't get that message.)

All of this peevishness (I love that word) arises out of our meeting with Dr. Uterus. Surprisingly, very little had to do with the technical details that we discussed. He confirmed our suspicions that it was just again Stroke of Bad Luck, which while eminently unsatisfactory in terms of a concrete answer, is probably the best that we are going to get. We talked about doing pregenetic implantation diagnosis (PGD) on our totscicles and he was quite honest that they have never attempted it on frozen ones, although it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. He also recommended against doing it since it is so untested in frozen ones, which made sense. We talked about what further testing we can do (none) and the protocol for an FET cycle.

The thing is, it was just being in his office that had already started to set me on edge. Our last visit when we were told that our second baby in a row had died is apparently still very fresh emotionally. It all started to come back before we even saw him. I was also annoyed by the poster in the room with the picture of twin babies with the glowing ad copy gushing about how in a few months a couple he helped were preparing for twins! Dear God that was discouraging. He's been helping me for almost TWO FREAKIN' YEARS and I have twins all right! Twin miscarriages!

Now, lest you get the impression that I blame Dr. Uterus, I don't. I know it's not his fault, it's not Dr. Freak Out's fault, it's not even our fault. I know that he's doing everything within his power to help us. I don't deny that or under appreciate that for a second. Our history can really be chalked up to random bad luck. I also know that with those posters he's doing what everyone in America does - he's selling something. But, I found it so offensive today considering that I have done everything that is asked of me and I still have nothing to show for it and his advertisements make it sound so easy, so quick, so simple, so without pain.

The discussion of the FET protocol also annoyed me. He prefers to do a mock cycle first - with an endometrial biopsy for your parting gift at the end! - before doing the actual FET. I did the quick calculations and of course figured out that we're talking about two months - one month in which I have no hope of getting pregnant just to see if my uterus can be tricked into thinking its time for pregnancy and then one month in which the frozen totscicles are thawed and transferred. The thing is, once I decide to get started again, I don't want to go through a mock month. It's a wasted month (even though yes I understand that it is necessary)!

Being the inquisitive little one that I am, I also asked what the mock cycle entailed as far as drugs and monitoring. The good news? No monitoring. The bad news? I would have to shoot myself in the ass again with the goddamn progesterone. WTF!? And this is just during the mock cycle! I would have to do it during the FET and during the 2WW! This really pissed me off. I have no problem doing it when I know that it will help with a possible pregnancy, but I really resent having to do it for a mock cycle. It's like what else is required of me? Walking on hot coals? Climbing Mt. Everest? Finding the cure to cancer?

But, even this was not enough to rouse my Inner DQ to her full fury - and what did rouse her will probably appear to you to be the most inocuous thing. While we were getting ready to leave, Dr. Uterus stated that I have taken on a new position in his practice. I am now the patient who has such rotten luck and bad outcomes that I am next in line for the divine miracle, the run of better luck, whatever. His patient who used to occupy this throne is now 9-weeks pregnant with a "beautiful baby" and his pride and thrill was evident. It was like a sucker punch to me. I know that it was meant as a story of hope - see if she can do it, so can you! - but it just came across to me as this mockery of all that I've been through. I had a pregnancy that he declared beautiful and then it went horribly wrong. To me, it was like going through it all over again.

I know that's not how it was intended and I didn't tell him what I thought. I know he genuinely thought it would make me feel better. I'm just one of those people who those kinds of stories don't. I did share with Sweetie, though, hoping that he would understand, would give me some comfort. Nope. He got frustrated with me and accused me of being envious. (Envy is now a four-letter-word in our household). I agreed with him. I am envious and I don't like that I am, but I am. I feel it and get over it. But, when I looked for comfort and validation, he instead chided me like I was a 5-year old. It ain't easy being green.

Sorry for the length (and the whining and the peevishness), but rarely is a long story made short. Sweetie is going out of town tomorrow and I am grateful for the time to myself to reign in the Queen so that she can't go all half-assed crazy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Twenty Questions

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful thoughts and wishes for getting me out of my funk. I'm feeling much better now that I had a stress-less weekend and was able to have some good conversations with Sweetie (plus lots of snuggling).

We have our appointment with Dr. Uterus tomorrow to discuss what happened with this last miscarriage and we've been dutifully preparing our questions for him.

Here are some of the biggies (with my own commentary, of course):

- What really were the chances of this happening two times in a row?
I'm more and more convinced that this was probably more common than he would have led us to believe. I don' tremember exactly what he said, but I got the impression that it was very unlikely that it would happen twice in a row.

- Do we need to have additional testing on either us to see if we have 'sticky chromosomes' that predispose us to nondisjunction problems (which in turn cause those pesky monosomies)?
While this wouldn't be something we could fix except possibly through donor gametes, at least we'd know.

- What are the chances that PGS on our remaining six totscicles will destroy them?

- How successful is the PGS test in finding chromosomally abnormal embryos and can it be done on 5-day thawed blasts?
If it is only 30% effective, for example, it may not be worth it.

- Do we need to do any immunological testing, even though both miscarriages were chromosomal?

- What are our chances of conceiving naturally?
I want to this know because frankly, there hasn't been a time that we had a legitimate shot at pregnancy while we were trying naturally. The first year we tried, my tubes were blocked. It was like I had my tubes tied. Nothing was getting through. The two times I have gotten pregnant, it was through ART and the months that we were 'off' I was either benched with ovarian cysts or getting over a miscarriage (which does wonders for messing up your cycle). I want to know if we have a legitimate chance even though ART may be a faster process - if it works.

- What are the protocols for doing an FET (which we would likely do next)?

- What is the thaw rate that the IVF lab has for frozen embryos?
Just because we have six on ice, doesn't mean that all six would make it through the thaw which really kills me, but what can you do?

And, before I head back to the padded cell, I'd like to say a little word about statistics. Several of those questions up thar can only be answered with statistics. I have come to eye statistics warily and with much suspicion over these two years. Statistics really aren't that useful to me anymore because they really don't help predict anything with respect to me. I've had lots of things happen that statistically had a very low probability of happening and yet happen they did. So, while they're somewhat helpful, I tend to make decisions now based upon the worst case scenario, not the statistically predicted one.

They also set me up for even more disappointment when something that should have a low statistical chance of happening (like a second monsomy miscarriage in a row) happens. Not only are you grieving that you have lost another pregnancy, but you are angry because statistically, this wasn't supposed to happen (don't even get me started on the statistics of miscarriage after hearing the heartbeat. That to me is the greatest travesty of statistics of them all.)

So, while I've pretty much given up on statistics, they are a necessary evil. I'm also stuck with them since Sweetie, mathematically-minded guy that he is, lives for statistics. I may ask Dr. Uterus, though, not to give us any more specific predictions about the chances of us having another miscarriage. We tend to take what he says as gospel so when it doesn't come to pass, there's another disappointment to handle.

Are there any other questions that we should be asking? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
image: Dom Dada

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's Not the End of the World As We Know It

It may come as a shock to you, dear reader, that I have been known to be on occasion ... well, ... um, a Drama Queen (*snort*). My little Queen gets out and runs around when I'm particularly stressed, or tired, or emotional, or usually, all three. When my Inner DQ gets started, heads will roll, Henny Penny will run around screaming about the sky falling, the Rabbit will be late, dogs and cats will live together and general mass hysteria will be right around the corner. In other words, I will feel as if the cosmic shit will hit the fan at any moment.

It's rare that I get truly riled, but it happens every now and then. I realized on Tuesday that I was getting close to that line. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit of a mess last Tuesday. I was already depressed which in turn made me more susceptible to crapitude should anything the least bit bad come down the pike - which it did and it was a doozy. It didn't help that earlier in the day I had emailed my pregnant best friend laying out my tale of woe and I received a response back that I, - and this is a direct quote, "sound great!". Yep.

So, by the time I found out that we had yet another monosomy which I had been led to believe would be quite unusual, I was fit to be tied and certifiable. I genuinely believed that we had the crappiest luck on the planet, we were doomed to having only furry children, and perhaps strangest of all, that Dr. Uterus was actively jinxing us by continuing to give these sunny pronouncements on high about how it will be better next time. See how whacked out I was?

Wednesday morning rolled around and I rolled around in bed while petting a purring kitty and getting fur everywhere. I knew what I had to do and my choice was solidified through the morning. I had to take a Mental Health Afternoon. And that is exactly what I did. I went shopping at Nordstrom with my Christmas gift card but didn't find anything. I'm so cheap these days that spending $150 on a jacket just seems decadent. I also don't get that Thrill of the Bargain that I do at my favorite consignment store.

I quilted, I worked on the photo album of the quilting process that I will give to my best friend along with the quilt (this being the same friend who thinks I sound great), I started planning the cross-stitch pattern that I want to make (a first!) and I vegged. In my PJs. I also did some good old fashioned emotional thinking and came to a few good conclusions:

1) this is by no means the end of the world. I'm not dead. Sweetie's not dead. Our parents aren't dead and we're going to Paris in a matter of days.
2) it probably isn't as unusual to have two monosomies back to back as Dr. Uterus would have us believe.
3) we have options for the totscicles that we have left, such as PGS (as Denise so rightly pointed out)
4) we can see if there are any screenings for either of us to determine if our chromosomes are pre-disposed to nondisjunction (which is the cause of these abnormalities); and
5) again, this is not the end of the world. The Sky is Not Falling.

Once I had that good talk with my Inner DQ about these revelations, she quieted down. I think she has gone back into hiberation for a while. At least I hope so. I would hate to wake up one morning with Pinkey in my hands hitting curled-up hedgehogs through croquet hoops.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice

For some reason, I recently have kept running into Ben Franklin's definition of insanity. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Oh, Ben (or Albert Einstein, depending upon which website you reference) how right you were.
image: Shivayanamahohm
If by trying to get pregnant, over and over again, and then getting pregnant and miscarrying over and over again we can be said to be insane, then today's karyotype result for this second miscarriage seals the deal: it was yet another monosomy. Two random chromosomal miscarriages in a row. If I had this luck in the lottery, I would be a rich woman.

We have an appointment with Dr. Uterus to discuss the results next Tuesday. I am particularly annoyed that he had told us numerous times before that it was highly unlikely that we would have another monosomy. I think he needs to just stop giving us predictions because each of them have not turned out in our favor. Sweetie will be with me, so he can keep me from being a harpie while trying to get answers out of our very nice RE who's optimism keeps smacking me upside the head.

I'm just afraid that I know the answer that Dr. Uterus will give us: it was completely random, there's nothing we can do about it and nothing we can do to prevent it in the future. I don't know how many more times I can stand having a miscarriage, let alone one for a random chromosomal event that isn't supposed to happen every time I get pregnant. How does lightening strike in the same place over and over again. Is it insane or are we for standing in the same location?

I haven't been able to find any real statistics on how common (or uncommon) it is to have it twice in a row. I know that it is the most common of all chromosomal abnormalities, but that alone is no longer particularly helpful. Has anyone had two monosomy miscarriages in a row or know someone who has?

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I thought I was doing pretty well last week. I had reached the point where my trip somewhere wasn't ruined by the sight of a lady with the tell-tale bulge. I was calm, serene - but the dam had to burst sometime.

Things started to unravel Friday afternoon. I hadn't slept well all week, I was working extremely hard on a project at work that is easily the most important of my career (no pressure!) that also happened to be extremely challenging, all while trying to make the most of my 'down time' at night with self-improvement and overall creativity. Needless to say, by the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted - mentally and physically. I suspect that this set me up for being unable to handle all of the crap that was thrown at me.
First, on Friday I realized that come the beginning of next month, it will have been Three Long Years since we officially threw out the birth control and began planning who was going to take our new little urchin to day care. No matter how I looked at it, I could not see the positives - all I could see was that three years later, it's still just me, the guy and the furry beasts. Sure I can get pregnant! Sure my tubes are clear! So far, it hasn't done me a damn bit of good. I found this utterly depressing.

Friday night we went out with some friends to a local festival. Upon arriving, what is the first thing I see? Very pregnant ladies. Two of them, in fact. Couple that will all of the homeless kitties we saw in the park, and I was in a sad state.

Saturday, we go out to lunch and pick the restaurant mainly based on the fact that it has outdoor dining since it was a gorgeous day. This time, the hostess was pregnant and there was a very pregnant (and extmremely chic) lady there as well. Oh, and the hair salon has a very pregnant stylist (not mine) who had to walk back and forth in front of me. Am I destined to have this thrown in my face? I was officially getting discouraged and depressed.

Today, we went to the grocery store - the new one up the street that I hate with a passion reserved usually for the worst of the worst - and wouldn't you know it? Our checker was pregnant. And, I passed a woman talking to another woman about how she started to show immediately. Plus, one infant, and several six-ten month olds. I think I have officially reached my breaking point.

Talk about hitting you when you're down - I was already feeling depressed this weekend and then I just keep being reminded of the two babies I have lost and the fact that I can't even make it to the bulging stage. I want to be as big as a house! I don't want to be able to see my feet, I want to complain that I look like a whale because all of it means that I'm pregnant with a sentient being who kicks and sleeps and belches, all in my tummy - who will arrive with my eyes and his nose and look like all of the ancestors that we've ever had.

I know that there is an ebb and tide of grief - just like there are hills and valleys in life. I know that last week was the ebbing and this weekend was the tide. It just hurts so much, but there is no detour, no way around it. And, better out than in.

I still wish, though, that I could reach that point where it didn't bother me. I suspect, though, that it's like most things - some days you can and some days you can't. These just happened to be "can't" days.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Great Expectations

Over the years, I have learned to scale back my expectations of what life has in store for me. When you are younger, of course, you expect that you will have the life that your friends or your parents have. You don't expect to have problems or grief or disappointment - at least not until you are old (which back then in my mind was 40).

I have also learned how to handle other people's expectations for my life. There isn't a person that I tell that we don't have children that I would wager wonders to themselves, why not? Luckily, very few are so deprived of manners to actually ask that question. I smile and know what they're thinking, but frankly don't care enough about their opinion to actually do or say anything. Let them think what they may - it is usually far more interesting than the truth.

And then there are those pernicious amorphous expectations that are exuded from society that we almost unconsciously take upon ourselves. For example, Sweetie's employer is building a day care center for its employees. We first heard about it about a year ago when they sent out a survey to employees to guage interest. Sweetie enthusiastically filled it out, indicating that we did indeed have plans to use the day care center. Typically, news of the progress of the day care center would filter down to us around the time that I was pregnant, so that we would begin to plan how we would utilize it. And, then, we would be smacked upside the head for having the temerity to actually make plans and would get a D&C for our hubris.

Now, the day care center is under construction and at first, I had that same feeling that I had to have a child and quickly to be able to use the day care center. After all, weren't they building it because we said we would use it? Luckily, I stepped back and realized that it didn't really matter if we used it or not. It was nice that it was there, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if we weren't able to use it now, soon or even ever. After all, it's just a building.

image: swamibu

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Dark Anniversary

I was in the shower this morning when I remembered the date: April 16. Today, one year ago, I learned that our first pregnancy had ended while we were on vacation. I had gone to Dr. Uterus' office looking forward to seeing how much the little one had grown, hearing the heartbeat again - and maybe, just maybe, being released from his care and into the hands of an OB for the rest of the journey.

Instead, I got a stab of panic when he found that the baby was measuring small for the time frame. It was supposed to be my 11-week check-up and the baby was measuring at 9w2d. Then, I got abject terror when he couldn't find a heartbeat. Then, I got numbness when he said those two little words: "I'm sorry." It was a terrible, terrible day.

I know that today is not that day, but even a year hasn't dimmed the memory, the pain or the heartache. It is all still there, just under the surface.

image: Ashimjara

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vampira Tales

Thanks to everyone for your lovely wishes on our anniversary and Big Red finally showing up. Only in this alternate universe of infertility would I be happy that my period showed up the day before my wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful dinner and talked about all of the wonderful times we have had together. Then we went home like the old married people we are and went to sleep at 10:30pm.

Yesterday, I had another date with Vampira at the blood lab to get my weekly HCG reading. The first time I went to the lab, the person was wonderfully efficient and I hardly felt a thing. The second time, I had Vampira - a different lady who was exceedingly nice (and dear Lord was she cheerful which is not compatible with me at 8am on a Monday) - but it was a terrible stick. My entire arm felt bruised for the rest of the week, and I swear I still had a slight bruise yesterday - a full week later.

Well, yesterday, when I went back for my weekly bloodletting, Vampira was there by herself, which meant I was at her mercy. I had her poke the right arm this time since the left one still hasn't completely healed and wouldn't you know, another terrible stick. I don't know what I'm going to do when I go back next week and she is still the only one there! Can you tell someone to poke you better next time? It seems like that would be like telling someone to brush their teeth differently after they had been brushing for 30 years.

Despite being poked to high heaven by Vampira and looking as if I am offically a junkie, there is good news. The quant is now in the triple, rather than quadruple digits. As of yesterday, it was 886 - a nice 63% drop from last week, in case you were wondering. It is 88% lower than my first post-D&C quant. I know, though, that it will probably take at least a full six weeks (or maybe even longer) like it did last time to get to the magic <5.>

I had the same flash of frustration that I had each prior Monday when I realized this and understood again that the frustration was due to my desire to feel like I was making some kind of progress in getting pregnant (rather than getting unpregnant). But, then I thought of the alternative. What if I was able to get pregnant next month? Frankly, that would suck. I would be wreck and would be pregnant in Paris. So, I will continue on my path to acceptance that a slow drop in the HCG means a long time to heal and actually be ready to try again.

We also haven't gotten the results from the karyotype. I looked back at my records from last year and saw that we had them at about 2.5 weeks after the D&C. It's now been 3 weeks. I mentioned it to the nurse and she is going to check. I'm not giving much thought as to what the results might show. This is one area where my predictions totally suck, so I'm just not going to waste my time.

Off to bed, and hopefully, tomorrow morning, I will not wake up freezing with a cat hogging the covers. This actually happened this morning. I haven't decided if I should forgive him.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you this important announcement:

"Mrs. X has FINALLY gotten her period. Film at 11."

Yes, finally, I have been cursed and I haven't been this happy about it since I was in college.
Thanks to everyone who chimed in on my friend John*. You are all absolutely right (as you were last time) that I should block his sorry ass to kingdom come. But, I have a confession: I am secretly hoping that he sees the errors of his ways and sends me a heartfelt email begging for forgiveness. This is probably as likely as a) hell freezing over; b) me winning the lottery; and, c) me winning Miss America - all at the same time. But, so far, it's what has held me back from blocking his email.

And, in the event he does send me another super-insensitive email after I asked him not to, I want to tell him point blank that I'm blocking him and why.
____________________________________________________________________ image: Sunfox
In other news, five years ago today, I went from being single to married. Yep, Sweetie and I tied the knot today five years ago in a beautiful ceremony with about 75 people. I'd post pics, but that would totally blow my cover. So, instead, I'll quote some language from the lovely note my mom sent us (which the Bad One just bit - little bastard!) which I think sums it up perfectly:

"Congratulations on the occasion of your 5th wedding anniversary! We're happy to know that yours is a good, strong marriage with lots of laughter in it. And our best wishes for happiness in the years to come. The first five have been adventuresome. What will the next five be like?"

We also treat our wedding anniversary as the kitties' birthday - since we got them eight weeks after our wedding and they were eight weeks old. So far, the Bad One is celebrating by being an extra nuisance. He has quite a knack for this.

I'm also happy to report that, on this auspicious day, I haven't really thought about how long we've been married and that we don't have children yet. I've just thought about what a wonderful time we've had with each other (and continue to have).

Little steps, always.