Monday, December 8, 2008

here it comes...

We knew it would happen someday. My ennui and confusion about this pregnancy couldn't last every single moment of every single day. There was bound to be a day when I would find myself giggling, grinning ear to ear and marvelling at how blessed we are. Feeling as though I'd downed a bottle of Felix Felicis, today is that day.

Waking up this morning to the mental milestone of 12 weeks was a perfect start. One small step for a pregnant woman, one giant leap for *this* pregnant woman! Although I'm now much further than I was with any previous losses, this week seemed like such a foreign threshold to cross and yet here I am, walking through that door and glowing on the other side.

Glowing, with a healthy (and big!) baby kicking me on the inside. I can't feel it yet, of course, but I could certainly see it this morning at our NT scan. Those long spindly legs kicking, those adorable little fingers at the baby's mouth, that heart - THAT HEART! - thumping away, 4 glorious chambers beating perfectly to sound the most beautiful music a mother can hear.

The most beautiful music a mother can hear...in her own home. My doppler also arrived today and with a little fiddling there it was: woosh woosh woosh. My belly soaking with gel, underwear pulled down around my knees, entirely without grace and yet feeling SO full of grace. Just so full.

Full of life, overflowing with love. My heart beats stronger knowing that today another heart still beats below it. Within it.


(Please re-direct me to this post when complaining about cankles, stretchmarks and hemorrhoids.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

human trampoline

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself The Human Trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying, tumbling in turmoil
I think "whoa, so this is what she means"
She means we're bouncing into Graceland


-Paul Simon, Graceland


Good news: Last Wednesday I woke up officially more pregnant than I'd ever been. My chemical pregnancies ended before the pee dried on the stick and my stickiest pregnancy lasted to just 9w1d. On Wednesday, at 9w2d, I felt relieved that we'd crossed a bridge into unknown pregnancy territory and simultaneously terrified that I didn't know where I'd find myself on the other side of that bridge. Would I reach this milestone, only to soon find myself in grief once again over life lost or would I really be venturing into the true wilderness of parenthood, finally birthing a baby I'd dreamt of for so long? My whole life felt laid out in front of me that morning, as opposed to the previous 9 weeks, when I felt I was tethered to my past.

Bad news: That same morning, at 9w2d, I went to use the bathroom in the morning and glanced (as I have for the duration of this and every pregnancy) at the toilet paper, looking for but not expecting to see blood. My toilet paper searches while still a constant have become much less determined, much more flippant. 5 trips to the bathroom every day for 5 weeks and not a single spot of blood, it's only normal to lighten up a bit...but not enough, apparently. Because last Wednesday, more pregnant than ever before, I found myself bleeding. Nothing to write home about (nothing to even write on blog about), but present nonetheless: little speckles of dark reddish-brown blood. I laughed out loud and actually said "you've got to be kidding me" as I sat, ass exposed on the cold hard seat, and decided whether to panic.

Good news: I didn't panic. I realized that it was such a small amount, such a minor event that it didn't warrant a full blown terror. I debated whether to tell my husband, whether to explore the issue any further, and considered flushing the toilet, walking away and forgetting I'd ever seen anything. But I couldn't do that. I knew that rather than forget, my unwillingness to acknowledge the scare would lead to a scary week ahead as I waited for my OB appointment. So I decided to come clean with my husband - calmly, rationally - and hoped that he too would decide not to panic.

Bad news: He didn't panic, but I could tell he couldn't brush it off either. We forced ourselves into a lighthearted discussion as to how best to handle it. I'd been released to an OB exactly 3 weeks prior, but was miserable in his care. We'd decided not to return to him and I'd booked an appointment with a new doctor for 10w2d. But since I hadn't seen her yet either, I didn't know where to turn for reassurance.

Good news: I have the greatest RE in the city (and I feel like I can comment, considering I've seen 4 of them over the course of our treatments). A woman who always made me feel cared about and listened to in every respect. And although I hadn't been her "responsibility" for 3 weeks she offered to sneak me in for a quick ultrasound, just to reassure me that everything was ok.

Bad news: Have you ever noticed that even when one is decidedly not panicked, knowing that a definitive answer is forthcoming can deliver fear faster than Dominos delivers pizza? Cool, collected Amber was lost when faced with an ultrasound - hopeful that the spotting was as insignificant as I believed, but fearful that I had again begun the beginning of the end.

Good news: The probe inserted and adjusted to find the sac, a baby appeared on the screen. Still, but with heart beating strong and fast (178bpm). The doctor and I sat, both relieved, and stared at a beating blob, her with pride in her voice and me with tears in my eyes. I would've been happy at that moment to jump off the table, I didn't want to take another moment of her time and I knew now that for now the baby was safe. But my RE wanted me to feel not only safe, but happy. And spent 10 minutes letting me gaze at the precious little one, noticing arms and legs as I'd seen in my twin pregnancy, but for the first time also a spine. My baby has a spine! And soon I realized that s/he knows how to use it. Next thing I knew s/he was twisting and twirling as much as my insides had done in the hours leading up to this ultrasound. And to know that still 2 hearts beat in my body, to see hands I haven't yet held and feet I haven't yet tickled...to see our baby on the screen wiggling as if to assure me that all is well. Well, are there any words?

Bad news: My husband, trapped at work, didn't get to see any of it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

::crickets::

I have noticed, while reading infertility blogs, that oftentimes once the blogger becomes pregnant the blog becomes stagnant. Once overly verbose writers clam up, posting nothing more than the occasional ultrasound update. I often wondered why pregnant infertiles suddenly go quiet and sometimes deduced that they were too blissfully happy to bother updating us who were still miserable, bitchy and barren. And maybe that's true for some of them.

But having officially become The Pregnant Infertile Who Shuts Her Mouth, I can tell you that in my case it's definitely not a matter of being so consumed with the rays of light shooting forth from my womb, but rather an inability to process my own thoughts and feelings within my own head, muchless in a readable way, sanitized enough to share with the public.

As an infertile you have months, years, to adjust to the life you're living. A woman new to the world of IF blogging is still quite experienced in feeling and thinking in the way of an infertile. Even someone newly diagnosed has likely had a year or more to come to grips with the fact that she is not like everybody else. By the time pen is put to paper, fingers to keyboard, she has likely processed countless failed cycles, a diagnosis, endless friends and their "oops" pregnancies and have begun to identify as one of the barren bunch. Pregnancy, it turns out, is the reverse. After spending 2 1/2 years adjusting to the concept that you are not pregnant (and aren't likely to get pregnant without remarkable acts of god or science) suddenly you're thrust into a new identity. Sure, it's an identity that you've strived for over the course of a lifetime, but it's also one you've fought to accept you might never have. Where the hell are you supposed to go with that?

I have now known about the pregnancy for 5 weeks, but I am no more adjusted to the reality of this reality than I was the day I found out. I am thankful that I haven't come out to most people, because honestly I don't know how to be pregnant. When friends who know ask how I'm feeling I don't know how to respond; I find myself uncomfortable discussing even the most mundane pregnancy details. I've spent so long feeling so raw when hearing the details of others' pregnancies...I just never imagined I would feel the same way myself. And I cannot lose the understanding that my pregnancy details could be excruciating for someone else to hear - someone out there doesn't want to know about my morning sickness the fact that I'm already in maternity pants, worrying instead that they will never have the discussion themselves. And as it turns out, maybe they won't. At least not out loud.

I don't know who this woman is or how she's supposed to feel. I don't know what to say, what life to live. So the days tick by, the counter creeps further towards 40 weeks and I wait. Hoping that someday soon I will know once again who I am...likely just before having to adjust again, this time from pregnant woman to Mother.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the golden thread

On August 28th, 2006 I was standing in front of the dry erase board at work, reading patient charts when suddenly I had this overwhelming rush: "what if I really am pregnant this time?" I felt almost as though my life flashed before my eyes, in that moment I pictured making my grandmother a great-grandmother again, connecting generations of my family's women with another branch of the tree. The intense feeling passed fairly quickly but the imprint of it stayed with me and when 3 days later I learned that yes, I really was pregnant, I wasn't surprised. Foolish though it may seem, I still believe that that moment (at 7dpo) was the moment of implantation. The moment my babies became connected to me.

When I lost them I was devastated. Sadness is pervasive, but almost more than anything I felt lonely. I'd been speaking to my babies since that first day, begging them to stay with me through all the scary bleeding. I'd tell them I loved them, of course, but I also had a simple running dialogue with them. We lived my life together in those 9 weeks and when they were gone, when I could no longer share my every experience with them, I felt like a close companion, a confidant had died. The golden thread connecting them to me had snapped.

I've known I was pregnant for a full month today. I've seen this healthy baby on 3 ultrasounds, watched her (his?) heart beating twice. I feel nauseas much of the time, my breasts are tender and the bloat is immense. (Seriously. It's ridiculous.) But regardless of *knowing* what is going on within my own body, I don't feel it. Not like last time. I talk to this baby on occassion, but it feels forced. I rub my belly often, but mainly due to the water retention, not any maternal feelings. I know there is a baby in there, but I do not know this baby. Not like last time. And I feel sad and guilty about it.

I wonder if my twin pregnancy was a bit of a perfect storm, bringing about the intense connection. I bled from day one (well, 2dpo to be specific) so I spent many hours begging those babies to be strong for me, to hold on while my body did what it could to make them let go. My husband was out of town for a month from 3 days after getting that first positive. Spending so much time alone I'm not surprised I made friends wherever friends could be made: in this case, within my own body. The idea of pregnancy was so new to me, as was the idea of trying. It seemed in some ways magical, mystical rather than a scientific process.

In contrast, with this pregnancy I have, for the first time, had not a single scare. I thank god for the lack of blood, but I'm also without reason to suspect that this little squirt is going anywhere and therefore not likely to beg him (her?) to stick around. My husband is very much present, sometimes leaving me wishing I had some time alone, so I talk out loud to him rather than internally to a person I'm not sure has ears. I've had 3 ultrasounds since learning I was pregnant - but hundreds in the past 2 years while attempting to get pregnant. I've looked at them as a science experiment over the course of many treatments - how can I now expect to switch to a mindset focused on the blissful joys of a newly minted mother-to-be?

Knowing the above, I shouldn't be surprised that I feel distance. But I wonder if it's something more.

I wonder. I wonder if although I feel very few bursts of fear, check my pantyliner for spotting rarely, genuinely believe that this time we will have a baby come June...I wonder if the fear I expected to feel is still there. Still lurking and poisoning my pregnancy. I wonder if my unfelt fear is manifesting itself not in incessant worry and panic, but in a disconnect. Preventing my seemingly hopeful heart from being broken once again when the other shoe drops. I wonder if that golden thread is tied not around the beating heart of my baby, but rather the fear that I may never know this one either. And I wonder when *that* thread will snap.

Friday, October 31, 2008

a little (more) patience

Do you remember when about a week before starting stims I wrote a post called "a little patience"? At the time it was nothing more than a way to work out my nerves, my excitement, my impatience about my upcoming cycle, but once the post was composed and up there for all to see, I realized it was more a meditation - a mantra of what would hopefully be self-fulfilling words. I'm not usually into ideas proposed in The Secret (or the hundreds of other similar self-help books) and I didn't use those writings as a mantra, but I can't deny that every single thing I wrote has come blissfully true so far. Who would've guessed?

So looking back, now realizing the power (or coincidence) of my words, I'm really wishing I would've been more specific. So I now offer the universe a revised timeline of this pregnancy and beyond. Note the changes in italics...

a little (more) patience

I cannot wait until next Thursday when I pop my last birth control pill (hopefully for a very long time). 6 straight weeks of BCPs and I'm ready to get rid of the acne and the bloat.

I cannot wait until the following Monday when I start stims - even if those "stims" will initially be (the confusing and anti-climactic) Clomid. Clomid that will no doubt bring about acne and bloat.

I cannot wait until 4 days later when I start real stims - hamster ovaries and nun pee, straight to my abdomen.

I cannot wait until I hear that our big, plump and numerous follicles are ready to trigger - not because one runaway is threatening to ruin it for everyone, but because they are all mature and ready to make babies.

I cannot wait until I'm bent over the kitchen counter, my husband standing behind me with that inch and a half needle aimed right for my ass.

I cannot wait until I wake up from anesthesia to hear how many beautiful, textbook quality eggs were retrieved. And I can't wait for the long day of napping and gatorade that will follow.

I cannot wait until the phonecall that tells me how many fertilized, how they're growing and that we're definitely doing a 5 day transfer.

I cannot wait until the moment when my husband stands at my side, grasping my hand as we watch on the ultrasound screen as our babies are sent home.

I cannot wait until I am waited on hand and foot. We wouldn't want to upset any precious embryos with chores or cooking. And just to be sure they're feeling safe and sound, their daddy will caress my bruised abdomen and tell them through layers of fat (and bloat) how much he loves them.

I cannot wait until we hear that we had beautiful, healthy blasts make it to freeze. Every last egg we sucked out that didn't get thrust back in will head straight to the icebox. (Or nitrogen box. Whatever.)

I cannot wait until I experience an entire 14 day luteal phase without a single smear of blood, for the first time ever. (Go for the gold, girl! Forget a 14 day luteal phase without spotting - how about an entire 9 month pregnancy!)

I cannot wait until the phone call that changes our life - for the good - and tells us that maybe this time we will finally become parents. Even if it does mean another 2 months of shots in the butt.

I cannot wait until I have the fortitude not to immediately run out and spend $50 on pee sticks *after* already knowing they'll be positive. I am an intelligent woman who understands that I don't need 3 boxes for the "pregnant" thrill. And I know that when you wait until 14dpER to pee, the sticks won't get much darker, so why bother?

I cannot wait until we see our baby(s), bright and healthy, on the ultrasound screen for the first time.

I cannot wait until I schedule the *second* ultrasound, the one where we look for the heartbeat, at a date during which I won't panic that it'll be too early to see that flicker, and then have the doctor tell me, right before the Probulator (tm) goes in that no, it wouldn't be ok to not see a heartbeat at 6w2d.

I cannot wait until I find the perfect OB, one who shares my desire for cautious medicine and treatment and a preference for an insane number of ultrasounds...and yet is supportive of labor being as natural as possible. Oh and an OB who thinks staying on the low-glycemic carb diet through the entire pregnancy as my RE suggested is absolutely insane and begins an IV potato drip immediately.

I cannot wait until I use the doppler on my own belly, in my own home with my husband at my side and hear the woosh-woosh-woosh of life growing inside. (And until I never once have trouble finding that woosh, sending me into a panic which will in turn send me immediately to the aforementioned OB for another one of those ultrasounds.)

I cannot wait until I feel completely comfortable stopping my progesterone supplementation, with no lingering fear or hesitation.

I cannot wait to watch the trimesters fall behind me as my belly grows big and healthy before me.

I cannot wait until we learn if we're having boy(s) or girl(s) and to watch my future change before my very eyes to adjust to this new reality of our growing family.

I cannot wait until I win some sort of minor lottery, giving us exactly the amount of money we need to decorate the nursery exactly as I'd like. Oh, and buy me a four door car (because really, car seats and VW Beetles aren't a good match.)

I cannot wait until I feel flutters, pinches, kicks and rolls from inside, knowing their personalities before anyone else can even imagine who they are. Until my husband, too, can feel them; know them.

I cannot wait until I am the only pregnant woman in history who sleeps comfortably, eats healthily, glows constantly and never waddles, right up until my water breaks (at 40 weeks exactly.)

I cannot wait until I'm struggling in my own labor, learning that things don't always go as planned (but sometimes do). My man will be at my side, comforting, coaching in a way that only he can.

I cannot wait to hear that first scream as a wet, bloody and very confused new person is brought into this big world.

I cannot wait to meet my child(ren), placed squirming and pink on my chest after my husband cuts the cord connecting them to me.

I cannot wait to get home and wonder what in god's name we've done and how we're possibly going to do this. And then we'll do it, day in and day out, better and better as it gets easier (and sometimes harder).

I cannot wait until we breastfeed, finding few difficulties, plenty of milk and that it really *is* true that pregnancy weight just melts right off (thanks every celebrity in People magazine!).

I cannot wait until milestones are reached: they'll smile and roll over and sit and stand.

I cannot wait until I comfortably baby-wear all over town. (Yes, it's a random dream, but one I've had for years.)

I cannot wait to see that my husband not only grows as a father, but as a husband and as a man. And regardless of the difficulties of parenthood we find ourselves closer, working towards a common (and wonderful) goal.


I cannot wait until reaching hands and tiny fingers torture the cats. I can't wait...but the cats can.

I cannot wait until I hear my name - the only name I've ever known in my heart - spoken by my baby. Mommy.

I cannot wait until a year and a half after this baby is born we learn that miraculously my husband's sperm count has skyrocketed and that trying for our second will be simple, quick and involve actual S.E.X.

I cannot wait for first days of daycare, first days of school, first loose teeth, first friends, first fights.

I cannot wait to say things like "because I said so", "because I'm the mom" and "eat your broccoli".

I cannot wait to watch them grow bigger, grow up, grow away from me as they become their own individual selves. Selves who sometimes just need their mom.

I cannot wait to to live all the moments I've been imagining my whole life. And to experience all the experiences that I never could've known were to come.

I cannot wait for any of it. But I will. I'll wait as long as it takes. (And be grateful for all of it.)



***


I sit here today, 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant, having seen one beautiful, healthy heartbeat on Wednesday and officially released to a (high-risk) OB. I'm still surprisingly fearless (or less fearful than I imagined, anyway) and haven't had a single scare. I find myself thinking forward in weeks, never wondering *if* I'll be 7 weeks on Monday, or 8 weeks the Monday after that. (Instead I find myself thinking that *when* I am 7 weeks I might actually break down and buy maternity pants. Yes, I know it's 100% bloat and totally pathetic, but I am sick of having to unbutton my pants any time I'm not actively walking around in public. (Sitting in public is a perfectly acceptable time to unbutton pants, for the record.))

But at the same time I'm finding myself struggling a bit to connect to this little shrimp inside me. I don't yet feel the golden thread connecting us that I felt so so early with my twins. I'm surprised by the disconnect, but not concerned. We're just taking some time to get to know eachother. To settle in.



***




As you may know, Kymberli at "I'm a Smart One" and Chance from "Embracing Happenstance" are embarking on a new journey together. Kym, who suffered infertility before being blessed with her 4 seriously adorable children, has since continued to pay her blessings forward by becoming a surrogate mother. She has already delivered one handsome little meatball of a surro-baby and is now joining Chance (and Apollo) in an attempt to do her part to make another family complete. From Kymberli's blog:

Chance and Apollo have created The Waiting Heart, a symbolic representation of all for which your heart is waiting. Made of solid sterling silver, the heart is hand-engraved by Chance with the word waiting along one side. It is placed on a Wear to Make Aware pomegranate satin cord, representing Infertility's Common Thread. All proceeds will go directly towards helping Chance and Apollo with the surrogacy journey, which we've dubbed Project Happenstance.

For me, giving to someone else has always been a wonderful way to experience the gifts in my own life. I was so glad to be able to help Kymberli, Chance and Apollo in whatever small way I could, knowing that so many out there would do the same for me without a second thought. Head over to Chance's etsy store: The Waiting Heart and do what you can to help bring their wait to an end.

Besides, what a cool necklace!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the world has turned

When I was in 4th grade I made a pact of sorts with my best friend that we would never smoke. My parents weren't smokers - I'd never been in a smoking environment really - but her mom was on a pack a day. Her house smelled strongly of cigarettes (and looking back, other smoked "delicacies") and the culture in her family was simply a smoking culture. We both agreed at that young age that it was a disgusting habit, one we'd never partake in. We remained close friends for years, although our peripheral friends diverged and changed. It was obvious that we were becoming a different species (as often happens in high school) but our friendship endured. Walking home from school together as sophomores we encountered some of her friends. One of them offered her a cigarette (Newport Menthol - I'll never forget) and she took it, lit it, smoked it. It was clear that this wasn't her first time, she held it confidently (or as confidently as a 15 year old can). I didn't say anything, I wasn't one to start a conflict, but I was hurt. Not that she was smoking - it was her body, she could do what she wished with it - but that she'd left this part of her, a part that we'd shared, behind. It felt clear to me then that a line had been drawn. She'd moved on, become someone new, and I'd stayed exactly where I was.

One of my early boyfriends relayed a similar experience while we were dating - he and a friend had always been fun but sober. They'd go to the high school parties and provide much of the entertainment, but while others' were swilling schnapps stolen from an unlocked liquor cabinet, Mike and his friends stuck to Coke. They never made a statement, weren't anti-drinking - they just didn't feel the need. But one day Andy got drunk. There was no dramatic after-school-special style climax, nothing terrible happened. But like Newport Menthols did to me, his friend Andy's first drink revealed a chasm that Mike hadn't seen before. Andy was exploring and maturing while Mike sat behind, stuck in the shell he'd always been. He listened to Weezer's "The World Has Turned" on repeat for awhile, feeling pathetic that a romantic ballad was representing a change in his friendship, a change due to a simple drink or two. But he knew now that they were different.

In the past 2 1/2 years the world has turned many times for me. Friends who got pregnant a few weeks after I did kept their babies, had expanding bellies and showers, gave birth, became mothers and watch their children grow. I don't resent them this change, but I can't deny it either. I have watched girls who'd battled to achieve a lasting pregnancy succeed and come home with babies - their attitudes sometimes changing so quickly, seeming to erase where they'd come from, what they'd gone through to stand where they stand, forgetting what they'd left behind. I've had family, friends, acquaintances and virtual strangers shift our relationships by virtue of their own growth, drawing an unintentional line in the sand between those who try and those who succeed. My world has turned. And turned. And turned.

Today I find myself on the other side of the globe. I am, for now, a success. Someone who caused the shift rather than had it thrust upon them. And although none of my close friends are battling the beast of infertility, there are those who are trying, who I know have cheered my win but wonder where that leaves them. And countless more (you?) who have less invested, who might very well write me off as "One Of Them" as I celebrate my pregnancy, the canyon between us seemingly too grand to jump.

I don't feel guilty for my joy and I don't feel undeserving. I won't apologize for this victory, however lasting it may or may not be. But I don't forget how I felt, just weeks ago, when hearing of another pregnancy. I don't forget the conflicted heart, the bitter and the sweet, the feeling of being, yet again, left behind. I know there are girls for whom the world has turned upon my announcement. And regardless of what I say from this moment on, I promise you I won't forget.

I might be lucky enough to become "One of Them", but I will always be One of You.


***


On a much more fun (and immensely flattering) note, my dearest Busted, one of my most favoritest bloggers, has bestowed me with an award. Hear that, high school math teacher who didn't believe in me? I've been given an award! Pfffffttt!



To claim this most prestigious of prizes I need to answer a meme of sorts, this one with one word answers. And so:

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Where is your significant other? work
3. Your hair color? eggplant
4. Your mother? herself
5. Your father? good
6. Your favorite thing? carbs
7. Your dream last night? strange
8. Your dream/goal? mom
9. The room you're in? living
10. Your hobby? knitting
11. Your fear? loneliness
12. Where do you want to be in six years? home
13. Where were you last night? couch
14. What you're not? energized
15. One of your wish list items? socks
16. Where you grew up? Wisconsin
17. The last thing you did? wrote
18. What are you wearing? scrubs
19. Your T.V.? on
20. Your pet? cats
21. Your computer? overworked
22. Your mood? hopeful
23. Missing someone? always
24. Your car? beetle
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? Anthropologie
27. Your Summer? hot
28. Love someone? always
29. Your favorite color? brown
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? week

And the fun part - time to pass the award on to 7 other bloggers:

1. To Gretchen, for being my official Fairy Godmother (and because maybe she'll have to update her blog now).

2. To G, although I completely understand if she's not up for quirky meme's right now (from One of Them) she needs to know that I heart her and her blog.

3. To TheWorms, for being one of the kindest, most giving people I've never met.

4. To Lifeslurper, whose posts always make me think and sometimes make me wish she could do my thinking for me. She's better at it.

5. To Amy who has been far too quiet lately, and is just too cute for words.

6. To Kymberli, for being a fantastic writer, a great subject for stalking and an even better mom.

7. And I cannot resist giving this award right back to the woman who gave it to me. I heart her and her blog so much, she deserves it twice. The girl crush is so totally mutual. Thank you, Busted.


I have to fess up to something. When I had a mere 3 (ish) posts under my belt but was getting the hang of commenting, my dearest Busted bestowed me with another award: the Kind Blogger Award. I was so touched (and still am!) but was frankly too much of a newbie to know what to do with it. I've always worried that since I never gave my acceptance speech she thought I was too good for her award, and yet months after the fact I felt ridiculous suddenly acknowledging it. But now's as good a time as any, right? So thank you for this too, Busted. YOU are too kind.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

pro-choice

I decided this cycle not to POAS before the big test, so I knew I would be truly surprised by the outcome of my beta, whatever way it went. I imagined that driving to my RE on Monday morning I would be an absolute wreck. I imagined I wouldn't be able to sleep the night before, tossing and turning with nerves and fears. And I expected the wait, once blood had been drawn, to be excruciating.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up Monday morning, fully rested after a night of unbroken sleep. And as I headed 40 minutes to my test I listened to music, sung along and generally relaxed. Coming home I found that I was anxious to hear the results, but not pacing, as I'd expected, like a lion in a cage.

I have had 3 days to absorb the news now (and another lovely beta of 367 - doubling in 49.35 hours). The excitement hasn't entirely set in, although I'm obviously thrilled. But that's not surprising to me - I've spent most of the past 2 1/2 years being decidedly NOT pregnant. I wouldn't expect to adjust to this new reality so quickly. What is surprising is that the fear hasn't set in yet either.

I won't pretend that I am 100% without concerns: that waiting for that second beta I didn't worry about the results, that I don't check and double-check the toilet paper every time, looking for the blood that had become synonymous with pregnancy in my experience. But my fears appear to be that of a normal, average pregnant woman. Not someone with my history (or my astounding ability to panic).

My mother believes that this lack of fear is a "good sign". That is means it was "meant to be". I wish she was right, I wish I believed that good feelings meant good endings. But regardless of the strength of optimism there is no guarantee that the next time I check the T.P. I won't get a nasty surprise. I don't believe my absence of terror, my Zen, is due to an greater understanding of the future. I believe it's due to a choice.

Upon scheduling my first (and exceedingly early) ultrasound, my husband asked how far along I'd be then. And then asked how far along I was when we lost the twins. Cogs were visibly turning in his head, doing the math, trying to find the "safe time". My mother came right out and asked when we'd be "safe", expecting, I think, to hear "at the end of the first trimester" or some other similar cliche. But instead I told her of the girls I know who lost babies at 16, 17 weeks. At 23 weeks. Immediately after a full-term delivery. I told her that there is no such thing as safe, in any part of life. Tragedies occur at every stage of the game, and it doesn't stop upon giving birth. Babies die of SIDS, toddlers die in hot cars, children are run over in their own driveways by their own parents. Devastation is always lurking around the corner and can never be outrun. But what life is lived if it that life is spent waiting for your worst fears to be confirmed?

And so I will not hold my breath, waiting to know that everything is good, that we are "safe".

I have made a choice not to put a timestamp on my happiness. Not to delay my excitement, waiting for the devastation. I know at this point that this is likely the only pregnancy I will ever experience. (Something tells me that $20k isn't going to be any easier to come by when a little one is sucking down the savings.) I've wanted for so long to be pregnant, to experience a life inside my own - how could I pass on that experience, choosing to experience fear instead? I refuse to miss this opportunity and find in 9 months that it passed me by in a terrified haze.

And if in a day or a week or a month the devastation finds me, I will feel it then. But I won't regret this optimism, this hope, this joy that I choose to feel today. I won't regret experiencing my pregnancy over my fear. I won't regret living this life. Not for a moment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

and I say "hello"

October 13, 2006 was the first day of the rest of my life. I'd lived in limbo for 3 days, knowing I'd lost my babies but that they were still inside me. But on October 13 I woke up for the first time alone, having physically said goodbye. There was a new normal now.

And today, October 13th, 2008 is the first day of the rest of my life again. Today I am greeting a new soul (or souls) with open arms into my body, my heart. I begin again a hopeful woman who is blissfully, delightfully, eternally gratefully pregnant.

Pregnant.

Pregnant.

It's been so long since I could say that. But with a beta of 187 at 9dp5dt I can absolutely say that today I am pregnant! I am humbled, I am in awe and I am absolutely ready, with the help of my husband, my doctors, my friends and family, to accept this new beginning. I'm sure the fears will come, but today I feel nothing but gratitude.

It feels so good to look forward, with optimism. It feels so good to say "hello!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

goodbye again.

Two years ago today I learned that my twins, whose perfect hearts I'd seen beating just days prior, had both died.

That was the pivot of my life; the dividing line. Every moment has since been measured in befores and afters. Had you told me then what the after would be like, I don't know that I would've survived. But now I can imagine no other course that my life could've taken. My twins were of me, their loss is part of me and the desperate attempts to extend the love I felt for them to another, living baby is much of who I've become. And I wouldn't give it back.

Today, though, is so much about who I was then. And so I'll share something I wrote in the early morning hours of October 12th, as I waited to go to the hospital for my d&c.


***


I had some very light spotting on Monday, something which has been quite common throughout this pregnancy, but I had just decided that I was putting too much energy into work and wasn't prioritizing as I should. So I decided to stay home and give me and my babies some much deserved rest. The bleeding stopped and everything seemed fine. But Tuesday morning when I went to the bathroom there was a large volume of red blood. The toilet water was pink and on the paper was a quarter sized clot. I knew it wasn't good, but I assumed everything would be ok. A tiny part of me was relieved actually. I didn't have the guts to quit my job (although I believed it was the right thing for my pregnancy) but surely my doctor wouldn't want me doing physical work if I bled like that.

I had started this pregnancy as the most nervous mother-to-be. I was sure I would miscarry at any given moment. That is, until 7w2d when we saw TWO heartbeats instead of one. Even though I went from a regular to a high risk pregnancy in the blink of an eye, suddenly I didn't have any concerns for the health of my babies. I thought my mother's intuition had just been off base - I had known something was different, but it wasn't an impending miscarriage I sensed...I was a mother of identical twins! And I just knew, to the core of my being, that I wouldn't be given this blessing (a scary blessing, but a blessing nonetheless) and have it taken away.

I got to the doctors office on Tuesday and was pleased that although it was very tight and cramped, there were photos of smiling moms and babies all over the walls. My new doctor was in many of the pictures - beaming over children she'd helped to bring into this world. This was the doctor I had wanted. Not the one I'd suffered through for 2 months, with grey walls, grey chairs, grey staff. Not the doctor who loved to drop the "m-word" in every appointment, like she was talking about brushing her teeth. I had finally found the doctor who would deliver my twins. I just had to sort out this little bleeding problem first.

As I sat to tell the nurse practitioner my story she listened with a kind face and understanding. She told me that I'd already gone through so much with this pregnancy. It was so nice to hear that acknowledged, because I sure felt I had. When she performed the internal she told me my cervix looked good and closed and I remained optimistic. It's funny how quickly optimism can drain right out the soles of your feet when faced with an ultrasound.

I knew the moment the ultrasound had begun that it was bad. I couldn't look at the screen - couldn't discover for myself that it was over - but the heartbeats were so easy to see now and I knew that no exclamation of "there they are" was coming. When the nurse started saying she was sorry, when she put her hand on my shoulder, my husband was concerned. He could see our babies on the screen - both of them. He could see their little faces and their hands. Why was his wife moaning and why was the nurse giving condolences? He had forgotten to check for the heartbeats. This brilliant man had somehow decided that if we'd lost them they'd be gone. Melted away into the fuzz of the screen. He wouldn't see his perfect babies lying in my womb if they were dead. But he did.

I moaned and I whimpered, but the tears didn't come. A nurse handed me a pile of tissues I could've suffocated myself in (maybe she wanted to give me the option) but I couldn't do it. Tears welled up in the nurse practitioner's eyes and the assistant nurse openly cried.

The doctor came in to confirm the diagnosis, although she gently told me before hand that there would be no change. Heartbeats don't hide in ultrasounds, and my babies' chests were as plain as day. She said she was sorry. That's all there is to say. My husband asked her to point some things out on the screen - the head, the body, the umbilical cord - but I couldn't look. Just before she finished the ultrasound I realized that this would be my last chance to see my babies and that I needed to take that opportunity, so I looked at the dark little screen. And there, in the clearest image yet (and this was our 5th ultrasound) was one of my babies. Facing right at me. I could see the eyes, I could see the torso, it was so obvious that this was a little person I was looking at...my little person. I don't know if my last vision was of baby A or B, but whichever it was, it looked so perfect. I forced myself to ask the doctor for printouts from the ultrasound. I didn't know what I wanted to do with them, but it only seemed right that their mother should have them. Neither image is nearly as clear as that last shot of my baby. I don't get to see their perfect faces, staring right at me. But they're there and I think they knew I love them.

Being at home is so strange. The bleeding has stopped entirely and I haven't had a single cramp. I feel nauseas much of the time and can't eat, but then, isn't that what pregnancy is like? It's so strange to have no will to go outside and witness society and yet feel lost in my own home. I can't do nothing, but doing something is so overwhelming. So I wait. I watch the hours tick by, napping occasionally and then feeling guilty for it. Pregnant people need naps and I...am not pregnant. I could drink a case of beer, but I sure don't want to. I want to treat myself as a pregnant woman, attribute the nausea to morning sickness, not dread at the procedure that comes today.

I had a dream while I was pregnant. Just one pregnant dream. I dreamt that I didn’t feel like I was in labor, but my doctor kept telling me I was. I had no pain, no contractions, but they told me I was dilated and it was time to push. I didn’t understand, didn’t believe I was giving birth but I pushed anyway. Eventually out popped a green olive with a bright red pimento. The doctor realized he was wrong, that I wasn’t in labor and that a baby would come later. It was a strange dream, but obvious where it came from. I had just read in a pregnancy book that at 9 weeks your baby is the size of an olive. From that point forward (I was 6 weeks at the time) my goal was to get to the olive stage. I wanted my babies to be the size of olives. At 9 weeks, I turned to my husband and said gleefully “they’re olives!”. At 9w1d the bleeding started. And today the doctor will deliver my little olives. All I can hope is that the rest of the dream was right as well – a baby will come later.

Each day has been worse than the last. Yesterday, upon receiving flowers, I realized a little bit more that it's over. Today, when unable to drink or eat all morning in preparation, I realize a bit more still. And tomorrow, I won't be able to cup my belly and talk to those little beings inside. They might not hear me now, but I know they're there and I can tell them how loved they are. Tonight they will be far from my body. Removed by force and placed not into my arms, but into a receptacle marked "waste". There aren't any other options really, they're only 2cm each. It's not appropriate to bury your children in a shoebox in the backyard...but is it appropriate to let some man take them away? They are my babies. They were tiny and helpless and they died, but they had faces and fingers and hearts - can they really just be disposed of? How can I just go to sleep and wake up with them in another room, in a bag, on their way to a disposal facility? What kind of a mother am I if I let that happen?

Am I a mother? At what point are you entered into that club? Do you have to kiss your babies' foreheads? Do you have to rock them to sleep? Did you have to feel a tickle in your belly - movement, a kick - to be a mom? I will go through a birth of sorts. I will be asleep (and so will my babies) and the doctors will take them from me, but they will still pass from my womb, through my cervix and out into the world - is that not giving birth? Can I call myself a mother when all I have to show for it are a few printouts from a scan and two lines on a stick?

I know it's illogical, I know it's not possible, but it seems so cruel to take them from me. I know they've died and I know I'll never hold them in my arms, but can't I hold them in my belly? Can't I keep them with me where I know they'll be safe? My husband and I tried so hard to make those babies and now they're going to be taken away from me? It doesn't seem right. It seems like they need me as much as I need them.

This was not how this was supposed to be. This is not right and it isn't fair. All I wanted was to be a mother. But I guess if being a mother just means loving your children with every ounce of your being, well, then I am a mother. And I will be a mother again.


***


I don't remember feeling hope on that day, but clearly, in that last line I did. Last year, however, on the anniversary I was virtually without optimism, without hope - we'd recently learned of our MFI diagnosis and the further difficulties we'd have to face. Last year this day passed as a painful reminder of what we'd lost and weren't sure we'd ever attain again. And so today I am thankful; thankful that 11 days ago my eggs and my husband's sperm met again. That 6 days ago we transferred the beginnings of life back to the womb that was scraped clean 2 years ago. That today I have hope.

In Jenny McCarthy's new book she mentions that when she wants someone to make the right choice she sometimes prays to their guardian angels to point them down her chosen path. And I knew, in that moment, that if these tiny clumps of cells in my uterus have anyone watching over them, they have their lost siblings. And so I asked my twins to help point these new souls on my chosen path. To me.

Two years later and I still miss my babies. I'm still without toes to tickle and hands to hold. But this day, two years later, I have one thing. I have hope.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

delightfully tacky

As I'm nearing the end of my second IVF cycle (and have suffered through more than 30 2ww in total) I feel as though I'm qualified to give a bit of advice:

If, when showering, you remark on how your stomach really looks pregnant, that the bloat is still so pronounced you could easily be parking in the expectant mothers spots...

If, after putting on scrubs, you notice that your ass has expanded so incredibly during the past few months that you're suffering a visible panty line in SCRUBS...

If, while noticing your visible panty line, you also see that your ass seems to have gotten not just wider but also markedly saggier during the months of drugs and comfort food...

If you find yourself continually picking and popping the zits that march across your jaw line more faithfully than penguins march to the sea and back...

If you're on that godforsaken PCOS diet with a husband tisk tisking over your shoulder every time you even think about picking up a cookie (while he dines on a baked potato, the rat bastard)...

If all of the above is true and you find yourself with a craving for hot wings (and are proud because while fat-tastic naked wings are carb-free and therefore on the PCOS Diet According to Amber) DO NOT under any circumstances walk your giant, seemingly pregnant belly, your fat panty-lined and saggy ass and your pockmarked and mountainous chin into Hooters to satisfy your craving.

All the wings in the world won't fix that hurt. Not when served by tight, taut, tall tits in tank tops.

Monday, October 6, 2008

petri v. me

My heart ran away with my brains this past week.

Everything had been going so wonderfully, so *differently* from IVF #1. More than twice as many mature eggs retrieved, almost 3 times as many fertilized. Great fert reports, day after day after day. A 5 day transfer of 2 beautiful blasts, one of which was already beginning to hatch (and the other on which we performed assisted hatching).

The day prior to transfer we still had 5 morulas and multiple 12 and 10 cell embryos. We did some (admittedly very hopeful) math and figured we were certain to get some snowbabies out of the deal. We were a little surprised to learn on the day of transfer that they only expected one of our remaining blasts to make it into the freezer, but remained blindly optimistic that a few more might pull together and make the big chill.

When they didn't call yesterday with the frostie report I started to get a little nervous. And my fears were confirmed when this morning I learned that none of our original 11 embryos made it to the freeze.

In many ways this is no tragedy. I can't imagine we'd consider an FET with only one embryo anyway, and seeing as we'd paid for 2 fresh cycles in advance, we'd planned on doing another fresh first regardless. And yet, today, after this news, I feel fear and doubt and grief for the first time this cycle.

All I can wonder is how, if the embryos we left behind in the perfectly controlled lab were unable to survive, how will the 2 we have in my tempermental uterus have a fighting chance? We started with 12 and are down to 2. That's not a very good survival rate. I'm finding it difficult to put faith in our questionable DNA and my faulty organs.

I just don't know if they can turn this game around.

Friday, October 3, 2008

battle scars

"All the change anyone ever needs is a good haircut." - a wise ex-boyfriend

Three weeks after I lost my twins (two years ago this month) I decided I needed a change and since I was barely able to drag myself off the couch, a haircut was as far as I could go. I had to ask around for recommendations as I hadn't been anywhere more exotic than SuperCuts in years. But before I knew it I was sat in a chair, looking at my still-tear-stained face in the mirror in front of me as a heavily tattooed man ran his fingers through my long, shapeless hair.

"Do whatever you want. I don't care. I just need a change." I don't think he or the colorist were expecting such a blank slate. They looked, they fluffed, they remarked that my "virgin" undyed hair could be donated to Locks of Love and eventually they settled on a short, asymmetrical bob with caramel highlights.

The colorist, not surprisingly was hugely pregnant. Even after telling her I'd just had a miscarriage she proceeded to talk for our hour about the shock of finding herself pregnant, the pains of carrying such a load, the difficulties of securing maternity insurance once you're already in a maternal mode. She didn't seem to understand that the discussion might not be comfortable for me, but then I didn't give her any such indications. I considered it a test - a dry-run for my re-entry to the real (and often knocked up) world. I passed the exam, but wondered if I was better for it.

When the color was done and I was sat again before Branden, my uber masculine punk-rock stylist, I reiterated that I was his to do whatever. "A change. I just need a change. A really big change." Curious, as anyone would be, he asked what precipitated the cut, to which I simply responded "I was pregnant with twins but now I'm not." I expected to hear platitudes or maybe a simple sorry, any one of the cliches I'd already learned to dread. Or perhaps this macho man would simply grunt and turn away. But he didn't. All he said was "that makes me really sad". And I could tell it did. Of all the responses I received to my devastating news, that one remains firmly ingrained in my mind as one of the kindest, most honest and simple. My loyalty to Branden hasn't waivered since.

When I went for a cut the month before last it was clear that Branden wasn't himself. He confessed that the night before was one of the worst of his life, but didn't initially elaborate. But as my style came together he came clean: the night before his wife confessed infidelity. He couldn't get past it. He was getting a divorce. I was shocked and so so sad - he was such a good man and so clearly devoted to his wife and his role as husband. I tried to support him, to offer him the comfort he'd offered me, but I don't know how I did. I thought of him a lot in the next few weeks, wondering why such decent people sometimes face such indecent situations.

This week I went to see Branden again for a much needed cut and color. It was obvious that we needed to address how things were going for him, so after the initial niceties he opened up. He'd found himself an apartment and a roommate. She'd kept the dogs but he visited them once in awhile. He realized that they'd been growing apart but had just been too hopeful and in love to acknowledge it. It was hard but he was doing ok. And then he said "can you imagine your life without your husband?" I couldn't stop (or rather, I didn't stop) and blurted out "sometimes I try to!" in a snarky tone. It's the kind of thing people say, isn't it? Making light of a situation that is nothing but heavy. In the next hour I made several more similar comments, mindless chatter about the joys of single life. He didn't react, stayed upbeat, but when I left that afternoon I felt terrible. I'd just done to this man what so many had done to me. I'd taken his loss and simplified it, even glamorized it, when I knew how painful it must be.

I'm ashamed of myself, of my reaction to one of the few who reacted kindly to me after my loss. I want to apologize but don't want to dramatize. But mostly I know I need to realize that infertiles aren't the only ones in pain. Miscarriage survivors aren't the only one who deal with insensitive comments by plastering a smile on their face while their heart melts beneath their chest. We're all fighting our internal battles and they're all hard. And if I expect compassion while I'm in my own trenches I must project the same sensitivity when being trusted to tend to others' war wounds.

I've been scarred and beaten so many times by so many thoughtless people. I cannot be one of them. Not again.


*****


In much MUCH happier news, tomorrow morning I will pop a valium and at 7:30am have my feet in the stirrups as our embryos are sent home. They've been doing so well outside my body, I can only hope that my unreliable incubator finally steps up to the task and finishes what the petri dish started. We'll transfer 2 (assuming things go as predicted) big, beautiful blasts and hope against hope that some of the remainders will be headed to the icebox. As of today we've still got 10 of our 11 embies growing - 5 at morula stage, 2 12-cells, and one each at 10, 9 and 8 cells. They've worked so hard already, growing, dividing, growing and I'm proud of them. Now it's my turn to give them a hand. I just hope my ol' ute is up to the task.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

the good, the bad, the ugly

The good:
Of those 12 beautiful little eggs that were retrieved, all 12 were mature and 11 fertilized with ICSI! I cannot tell you how thrilling this is to a couple whose first IVF fert report found us with 9 retrieved, 5 mature and 4 fertilized. And the good keeps getting, um, "gooder". As of today all 11 are still growing and dividing: 1 5-cell, 6 4-cell, 2 3-cell and 2 2-cell! Usually I'm all for unity but in this case, DIVIDE, baby! DIVIDE! Assuming there isn't mass cellular mutiny in the next 12 hours we're looking at a 5 day transfer on Saturday. For the very first time, this afternoon I thought of those photos of expanding blasts that some women show off after transfer - and I imagined them to be mine. It never occurred to me until now that those could be *our* embryos; healthy, dividing, numerous embryos. But I'm starting to hope - to reasonably hope - that they will be.

The bad:
For some reason I expected to feel myself again after ER. I expected the bloat to subside, my energy to soar, my brain cells to flourish. Afterall, with IVF #1 I was pretty much a-ok within 24 hours. But then with IVF #1 my post-retrieval cocktail included: Crinone 1xday. Not much of a cocktail, really. More of a slimey, discharge-y scotch on the rocks, hold the rocks. This cycle, on the other hand, the cocktail includes: PIO, progesterone suppositories, 3 estrogen patches swapped out every 3 days, Zithromax, Methylprednisolone, baby aspirin (cherry flavored - yum!), Metformin and the 7 other pills I take daily. Not so much a "cocktail" as a garbage can punch served at a frat party. And most of the time I feel like I've been drinking said punch. A lot of it.

The ugly:
Me. And not just the bloat and the PIO targets drawn in Sharpie on my ass. No, the ugly is more a state of mind. And unfortunately, this state of mind has been unleashed more on my darling husband than anyone else. I might be sitting peacefully, thinking delightful thoughts about what a caring, kind man I have, but if at that moment he walks into the room my mouth takes over, erupting and shouting about one thing or another. And just like PMS, regardless of my ability to acknowledge my cruelty and to apologize incessantly, I am completely powerless to stop. Thankfully this good, kind man is understanding, even soothing while I rage - always understanding and patient. The bastard.

Monday, September 29, 2008

adding it up

OvCon50 uber-BCPs x 6 weeks = impatient woman

((75 Menopur + 225 Gonal F)x 3 days) + ((150 Menopur + 300 Gonal F) x 8 days) + (Ganirellex x 4 days) = sore abdomen and wild mood swings

5 ultrasounds + 5 blood draws = 13 mature follicles

10,000 units HCG + sub-cutaneous injection = relieved husband, happy ass

1 valium 10mg x back rubs in bed = best night's sleep ever

hospital gown + cap + booties + PIO targets drawn in Sharpie on ass cheeks = sex symbol

good anesthesiologist x not waking mid-surgery = grateful patient

(awesome nurses + fantastic doctor) x modern science = 12 eggs retrieved

(Progesterone + oil) x big f'ing needle = much much whining

2 pound kitten + post-anesthesia nap on the couch = happy, sleepy morning

and

All previous tallies + hope + optimism + luck = a lifetime of love with children of our own

Friday, September 26, 2008

must. eat. brains.

Because that's the only chance I have of having enough brain cells to put together a complete sentence while I'm in this state.

With IVF #1 I had virtually no side effects from stimming. Sure I had weeks of constant, pounding Lupron headaches (and hours of whimpering and whining to go with them) but once I was suppressed and the cycle got rolling I felt pretty darn ok. I'd hear girls complain about bloat, tenderness, mood swings and I thought they were wimps. I was bloated and moody too, but I wasn't begging for my eggs to be sucked out at any cost. But I have come to learn that that's because I never experienced the bloating and moodiness. Not really.

But today, with 15 follicles and 9 nearing maturity and an E2 of 2100(ish) I'm starting to get it. I'm a moody girl in the best of times (my husband is so lucky) but even I don't ordinarily spend an entire evening sobbing because I feel "wrong". And I'm a lazy lazy woman, but even I can usually manage to...I don't know, *do stuff*. And I like to think that I generally have half a brain, often capable of unique and complete thought, but as that last sentence illustrates all blood flow seems to have been re-routed from my brain stem to my ovaries. (No, seriously: in this morning's ultrasound the screen suddenly started pulsing as she focused on my left ovary. As we sat watching blood rush to my ovaries, a rhythmic thumping perfectly in line with my heartbeat, she pointed out a very large artery feeding my ovary: one that's not usually so obvious. I suggested that she try to refrain from nicking it during retrieval and she concurred. Although it would be nice, for once, to have an explanation for the random luteal phase bleeding I expect to experience.)

My next appointment is tomorrow morning, assuming that I can shove off my exhaustion enough to drag myself out of bed. I'll be in the stirrups at 7:30am for (hopefully) one last time, assuming I still have the intelligence to remember which pedal is gas and which is brake. And if things go as expected I will do my first of many intramuscular injections tomorrow evening, as we finally trigger for IVF #2. That is, assuming that I don't retain so much fluid overnight that it overflows from my gut and into my backside; the inch and a half needle unable to penetrate the muscle, never making it past the retained water in my fat, flabby ass.

The time has almost come. I'm ready to be done. I'm fat, sore, tired and stupid. But I'm happy - really very happy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

testing...testing

*tap tap*
Is this thing on?

Modern life is amazing - lights that turn on when switches are flipped, a TV free from improvised rabbit ears and no need to desperately search for rogue wi-fi signals in the backyard. Hurricane's over, folks. Nothing to see here.

We got our power back on Saturday after exactly one week of darkness. I feel so fortunate to have had it restored before the cool front left town, and feel such empathy for those who weren't so lucky. We were without cable and internet until, oh, about 25 minutes ago, and honestly the lack of TV was a nice way to ease back into the everyday. I was a lucky girl when it came to this hurricane. I've got nothing to complain about. I just wish the rest of the area could say the same.

IVF #2 is rolling right along, although more slowly than anticipated. On our first attempt I triggered on my 8th day of stims. Today is day 9 and we've got a good few days left in us. There are subtle signs, however, that the drugs are working. When I burst into tears at the sight of a convoy of electric trucks from Jersey I suspected that the hormones were kicking into gear. When I nearly punched out a family friend who suggested I had missed a couple of get-togethers last year - that was a sign. Taking my husband in a deep embrace as he sung a little song about how much he loves me...and then screaming at him for hugging too hard - thankfully I've got the drugs to blame it on. Toss in the sore belly, now being poked thrice daily, and the bloat which leaves semi-permanent impressions of my jeans on my gut. Yes, things are in full swing.

My follicles are less impressive than my bruises, though; we measured 9 today between 11mm and 17mm. Truly it's about what I expected, but my hopes? Well, they hoped for a bit more. But don't we always? I'm feeling relatively optimistic, though and have no doubt that my cycle is being managed with great expertise and care. I trust my doctor - a new experience for me - and didn't even *ask* for my E2 today. Progress. Definite progress.

My next (and fourth) stim check is Friday morning. I hope to report a sudden surge in glorious follicles, and I hope to do it in a far more interesting post than the one I've offered today. I swear, the fluid from my brain has gone straight to my uterus.

Friday, September 19, 2008

quiet

Growing up we never had much money. My parents were divorced – my dad a mailman and my mom a full-time student and bartender. We lived on quite a strict budget and saved wherever we could: I remember a school year when our household income qualified me for free cartons of milk at lunch – they were a nickel for the rest of my class.

For the lack of resources, however, we were never made to feel poor. Christmas was always a boisterous time with plentiful presents and birthdays were always greeted with large slumber parties. And each summer my mother would be sure that my brother and I had two vacations – she was always determined to provide experiences that would be the grounds for fond, lasting memories. We never went to Disneyland, never even left the state on our two trips. Rather we would spend a week each at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park and River Bend, a posh campground to which a friend held a membership.

My brother and I do have wonderful, everlasting memories of those annual camping trips. We’d shop for piles of junk food in the days prior, stocking up on Olde Tyme sodas (grape, cherry, cream soda) and Little Debbies. We would pack the family’s Dodge Colt so full of camping gear that we (and our one friend each) would be forced to squeeze into any space remaining for the hour-long trip to Yogi Bear’s. On our arrival, after scouring the grounds for the best site (each of us having different priorities: my mom to be close to the bathrooms, me to be near the pool and activity center, my brother hoping to find a spot secluded from the other campers) we would set up our tents and exhale. Over the next week we would do much (swimming, hula hoop contests, and near-miss first kisses) and nothing at all (read books, eat crap, go to bed early and get up with the sun).

This past week has been much like that – the anticipation of the hurricane, stocking up on junk food and non-perishables. The excitement of the storm and the calm in the aftermath. We had days in the same clothes (with no water to wash them) and spent time helping neighbors. We’ve eaten much food of little nutritional value and all cooked over an open flame. I’ve read 4 books, so far, by the thin light of a flashlight. In many ways this week without power (still without power) has been a lot like camping. But in some ways not so much.

I had been instructed on Friday to begin the meds for IVF #2 on Tuesday. We were expecting the storm, but didn’t really comprehend what would be left behind. I thought we’d be out of power until Monday, maybe Tuesday, but never did I imagine the estimates of 2-4 weeks. Once the full news of the outages reached us (over the radio) I just assumed that we’d be canceling the cycle, refilling my BCPs and hurrying up and waiting for another month. You can’t imagine my shock when the message came through: start stims as planned on Tuesday.

It’s a strange position to be in, hearing of so much devastation just 50 miles away (while being thankful for our own good fortune) and still being concerned about advanced reproductive therapy. To sit on the floor in my dark house, mixing vials and giving injections, prepping my ovaries for an elective procedure while others worry about finding gas, ice, food. This is not how I expected this cycle to go – how could I have predicted this? – but I think it’s working in my favor.
Having rare access to the internet means I’ve been unable to obsess about dosing instructions and my E2. I’ve been unable to compare my progress to friends and fellow bloggers. My poor husband has been subjected to my ponderings as to how the cycle is going, unable to provide insight, knowing he is just a sounding board to replace my usual network of overly informed IVFers. But it’s meant that I’ve had to trust my doctor, go with the flow and wait and see. A good thing, no doubt.

But now that I sit with access to the web for a moment, I will no doubt be frantically searching for others with low E2 (92 after 3 days of stims and an estrogen patch) and pathetic follie scan (8, all measuring under 6mm). I will look for stories of girls who reacted more slowly to a higher dose of meds than a previous cycle and will scour for the truth behind the rumor that “a slow stim is always better”. But before I have time to collect enough tales of similar cycles to calm my frayed nerves I will be back home, in our warm, dark house, far from the community of women who understand.

I will take my increased dose of meds (150iu of Menopur and 300 of Gonal F), pick up the flashlight and curl into bed with another mindless book, my thoughts slipping away from my ovaries once again. Until Monday when I am again pulled from the relative primitive life of our “camp” and thrust back into the modern world – another date with the butterfly needle and the vag cam and another missed opportunity to obsess as I ordinarily would. Unless, of course, we have power by then. In which case I’ll be right back here, desperate for you all comfort me and assure me that this cycle is going just fine.

Friday, September 12, 2008

yIKEs


Looks like after 12 years of life in Houston I am about to experience my first hurricane. We've got chips and donuts, canned peaches and gatorade. We squeezed both cars in the garage and dragged in all our patio furniture. We're staying put as advised and hoping for the best. It's odd - watching TV we know what is to come, but it's bright and sunny and hot outside. Everything we're seeing tells us to hunker down, but there's just no need. Yet. Like 6 weeks of birth control before IVF, it's all anti-climactic waiting for now.

I felt guilty when I called the nurse yesterday, asking what the plan was. An enormous hurricane is heading right for us, no doubt people have bigger things on their plate than my vagina. But she was a step ahead of me; already figuring out with to do with her IVFers. Next thing I knew I was on the table, vag-cam firmly in place. The ol' ovaries looked good and so, assuming power has returned, I will start stims on Tuesday. My uterus waits for no storm!

I expect that we'll be just fine (although if winds are as forceful as predicted our roof might not be - I don't have much faith in the two old, dying trees in our backyard). We live pretty far inland. If things go as planned we'll be in the neighborhood bar tomorrow evening, drinking a lukewarm beer by flashlight. I don't doubt that power will be out, probably for days, but the neighbor has a generator and we've already got the ok to store our meds in his fridge. (Priorities, right?) I'll update when I can, but until then I'll be on the hunt for Anderson Cooper. I mean, I might be infertile (and married) but I'm not dead!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

mind over matter

When I was 9 years old I decided to stop being ticklish. My brother used to mock me for having so little self-control when I would collapse in fits of giggles at the slightest touch. My brother spent most of his waking hours making fun of me for one thing or another and I usually didn't take it to heart. But his suggestion that I was weak-willed hit home and I vowed to stop being ticklish. The next time hands reached for me, fingers wiggling under my neck or behind my knees, I breathed deeply and deliberately, forcing myself to remain calm. I didn't twitch or smile until the tickler reached for my feet, at which point I fell into a heap, laughing my little belly laugh. I wasn't deterred, though, and before long I was no longer ticklish. Even those who claimed their nimble fingers could bring laughter from a stone failed. I was not weak-willed. I was powerful. I was in control.

I was an avid cook from a very young age. Many of my culinary experiments were great failures ("fried meringue" anyone?) but I was determined. The only thing I enjoyed more than cooking was eating - my own creations and others'. When my mom would make a whole chicken she would pull that paper bag from the cavity and extract the livers from it. Two tiny pieces of creamy, fatty, deliciousness. As the chicken baked she would fry those livers in a small pan, salt and pepper them, and moments later she and I would each devour one. One little packet for each of us - the best part of the chicken. I was very much a carnivore and would eat any meat product offered to me. Lamb, smelt (little smoked fishes with their heads still attached), even sweetbreads. I loved them all. On New Years Eve when I was 15 years old I decided I needed a resolution. Not some vague utterance about being a better student or a nicer person. Something concrete. So without any premeditation I decided I would become a vegetarian. It wasn't an effort to save animals (although I was already an intense lover of all things furry) or even to be in vogue with my angst-ridden teenaged friends. Rather I decided to give up something I loved wholeheartedly, just to see if I could do it.

I loved to fly when I was young - after my 1st flight (to California with my aunt in 3rd grade) I announced that I was going to become a flight attendant. (I've never been particularly ambitious in my career aspirations and knew even then that pilot was beyond my lazy reach.) I often claimed that the flight was the best part of a vacation - 3 hours of sitting under a blanket while eating miniature food was an excellent way to pass the time. And then, on Wednesday, July 17th, 1996 I sat in my room and watched on TV as the pieces of TWA flight 800 burned on the surface of the ocean. I had a flight booked for a few days later and suddenly I was dreading it. From that moment on I was terrified of flying, needing a sedative just to approach the tarmac. And yet, 6 years ago I drove myself and my (now)husband 40 miles to an open field with a long runway. We watched a video about falling through the air and mimed jumping out of the plane. Within a few hours I was sitting on a tiny, terrifying propeller plane next to the open door as the world got smaller beneath us. I had no desire to sit on that airplane and even less to jump out of it. But I needed to know that I could - that I was bigger than my fears. And I was. Twice.

I don't think of myself as a controlling person. I don't feel as though I manipulate those around me to fit into my own plans. And yet as the stories above illustrate it is clear that I yearn for the knowledge that my future is in my own hands. I know that I am strong and I know that I am capable. I know that I can trust *me* to do whatever it is that needs to be done. And if I fail or make mistakes I am comforted in knowing that the mistakes, too, are my own responsibility. So to hand over that power to someone whose own strength I have not tested is enormously challenging.

As you probably know, because I can't shut up about it, I am scheduled to start stims on Monday. (That is, if my ute can keep it together for 2 more days and quit with the bleeding already. I'm popping 2 BCPs a night - get the message!) I am so excited for this cycle to get underway and will practically be bouncing on the table as the vag-cam checks my sleepy ovaries. But until that moment when I'm told we're good to go, I will continue to stress about my protocol...or lack thereof.

You see, I have never cycled with this RE before. She has my history from our failed IVF (and all the records from the myriad of doctors I've visited on this journey) but her first-hand knowledge of my reproductive organs is minimal. We decided at our initial consult, based on my poor showing for IVF #1 and the drugs I had available to me, that I would do an antagonist protocol. So I did my research, learned why this was an appropriate choice for me and got an idea of what I might expect. I was armed with the knowledge I'd gained and was ready to move forward. Until last week, while signing the consents, when the IVF coordinator dropped the "C" word. No, she didn't call me or my c*nt a c*nt. Rather she pointed at the calendar and said "this is when you'll start taking the Clomid".

What? Clomid? On IVF? When I have a giant box of Gonal-F and Menopur - probably 2 cycles' worth - sitting in my kitchen? Why, why in god's name would I take Clomid? The nurse was sweet and did her best to explain that a Clomid "boost" before the injectibles works well for some poor-responders. Improving quality as well as quantity. But she couldn't tell me why, couldn't tell me how they'd come to this conclusion. Had she suggested any other protocol I probably would've been fine - I've *heard* of all those! But putting me on a med combo that I was not only unfamiliar with, but thus far unsuccessful in attempts to research has sent me into a tailspin. And the later decision that we wouldn't actually determine whether or not to use the Clomid until *after* my baseline on Monday morning has me in a total tizzy.

I don't like my inability to control my fertility, but a lack of control over my body is something I've gotten pretty used to. But this inability to prepare, either with knowledge or advanced planning, is giving me heart palpitations. I want to know what we'll be doing and I want to know why. And I don't want to wait until hours before I pop the pill (or not) to find out! But for the time being I have to keep quiet and keep sane. I need to learn to let go and trust in the professionals I have paid to take care of me. I have to look at her success rates and remember that those 65% of IVF cyclers who became parents last year did not decide their own protocols.

I realized at some point that being ticklish isn't a bad thing. Losing yourself in laughter as your loved ones grin over you is something to be relished. But it's too late for me - I'm no longer ticklish. I also learned that I *could* say no to the meat I craved, and I did for 8 long years. But one day I learned it was ok to say yes, too. And that was the best damn burger I'd ever eaten - up until the one I had the next day, and the next. I have to keep reminding myself that sometimes it's ok to let go, to accept that I'm not always in charge, even of myself.

And I need to learn that maybe I shouldn't jump out of a plane prove to myself that I am in control. I should jump because free-falling is an amazing ride.

Friday, September 5, 2008

a little patience

I cannot wait until next Thursday when I pop my last birth control pill (hopefully for a very long time). 6 straight weeks of BCPs and I'm ready to get rid of the acne and the bloat.

I cannot wait until the following Monday when I start stims - even if those "stims" will inititally be (the confusing and anti-climactic) Clomid. Clomid that will no doubt bring about acne and bloat.

I cannot wait until 4 days later when I start real stims - hamster ovaries and nun pee, straight to my abdomen.

I cannot wait until I hear that our big, plump and numerous follicles are ready to trigger - not because one runaway is threatening to ruin it for everyone, but because they are all mature and ready to make babies.

I cannot wait until I'm bent over the kitchen counter, my husband standing behind me with that inch and a half needle aimed right for my ass.

I cannot wait until I wake up from anesthesia to hear how many beautiful, textbook quality eggs were retreived. And I can't wait for the long day of napping and gatorade that will follow.

I cannot wait until the phonecall that tells me how many fertilized, how they're growing and that we're definitely doing a 5 day transfer.

I cannot wait until the moment when my husband stands at my side, grasping my hand as we watch on the ultrasound screen as our babies are sent home.

I cannot wait until I am waited on hand and foot. We wouldn't want to upset any precious embryos with chores or cooking. And just to be sure they're feeling safe and sound, their daddy will caress my bruised abdomen and tell them through layers of fat (and bloat) how much he loves them.

I cannot wait until I experience an entire 14 day luteal phase without a single smear of blood, for the first time ever.

I cannot wait until the phone call that changes our life - for the good - and tells us that maybe this time we will finally become parents. Even if it does mean another 2 months of shots in the butt.

I cannot wait until we see our baby(s), bright and healthy, on the ultrasound screen for the first time.

I cannot wait until I use the doppler on my own belly, in my own home with my husband at my side and hear the woosh-woosh-woosh of life growing inside.

I cannot wait to watch the trimesters fall behind me as my belly grows big and healthy before me.

I cannot wait until we learn if we're having boy(s) or girl(s) and to watch my future change before my very eyes to adjust to this new reality of our growing family.

I cannot wait until I feel flutters, pinches, kicks and rolls from inside, knowing their personalities before anyone else can even imagine who they are. Until my husband, too, can feel them; know them.

I cannot wait until I'm struggling in my own labor, learning that things don't always go as planned (but sometimes do). My man will be at my side, comforting, coaching in a way that only he can.

I cannot wait to hear that first scream as a wet, bloody and very confused new person is brought into this big world.

I cannot wait to meet my child(ren), placed squirming and pink on my chest after my husband cuts the cord connecting them to me.

I cannot wait to get home and wonder what in god's name we've done and how we're possibly going to do this. And then we'll do it, day in and day out, better and better as it gets easier (and sometimes harder).

I cannot wait until milestones are reached: they'll smile and roll over and sit and stand.

I cannot wait until reaching hands and tiny fingers torture the cats. I can't wait...but the cats can.

I cannot wait until I hear my name - the only name I've ever known in my heart - spoken by my baby. Mommy.

I cannot wait for first days of daycare, first days of school, first loose teeth, first friends, first fights.

I cannot wait to watch them grow bigger, grow up, grow away from me as they become their own individual selves. Selves who sometimes just need their mom.

I cannot wait to to live all the moments I've been imaginging my whole life. And to experience all the experiences that I never could've known were to come.

I cannot wait for any of it. But I will. I'll wait as long as it takes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

children's children

1/3 of American girls become pregnant before the age of 20. Should I repeat that? One-third, one out of three, thirty-three percent, of American girls become pregnant before the age of 20.

Or so says Barbara Walters in response to the announcement of 17 year old Bristol Palin's pregnancy. (Yes, in addition to watching Regis and Kelly, I believe I may have just outed myself as a viewer of The View.) I know that many an infertile's reaction to the announcement of yet another oops! pregnancy is bitterness. Jealousy. We might find ourselves pleading with the universe, begging for an answer as to why they get pregnant and we don't. I have been there. I still do that. But this time that is not my reaction.

As an exceptionally liberal liberal, one who has developed a serious aversion to the pick of Palin for V.P., my immediate reaction might've been glee. Upon sharing the news I could tell my mother expected me to lick my lips at the scandal. My husband, who has been surprised by my violent reaction to Palin's candidacy, assumed I would rant about the hypocrisy of a champion for abstinence-only education finding herself a 44 year old grandmother. But I didn't experience this revelation as a liberal, but rather as a woman. My gut reaction was simple sadness at the official statement that the parents-to-be will be married.

An unintended teenage pregnancy can be, I imagine, a devastating, scary event for the family. And I understand the desire when faced with a personal tragedy to do everything you can to Make Things Better. In some situations that might mean an abortion and in other, more right-wing families they Make Things Better with the sound of shotguns ringing in the air...er, I mean, wedding bells.

I can understand a girl, a child, who thinks that Johnny No-Condom will make a wonderful husband - I mean, he *always* texts when he gets home! - and I can relate to her dreams of an (off-)white wedding and blissful family days to come. But what I cannot understand is the parent who condones these childish delusions. More likely than not, the parents have had their doubts about this boy from the start. They don't like that he beeps from the driveway instead of ringing the doorbell. They aren't sure about all those text-messages - isn't it too soon to be *so* swept up in each other? They probably haven't trusted this boy to bring their daughter home by curfew, but now they trust him to hold her beating heart in his palm? Now they ask him to help raise their grandchild, when days prior they wouldn't have allowed him to pet sit their dog? I understand the need to fix things, but I wonder just how many things, how many hearts, how many people will be broken as a result of this "fix". And I worry that Bristol, like so many other young mothers, will feel herself and her life speeding past her, without her control, on a crash-course with a future she never intended.

Upon blowing out the candles on my 20th birthday cake I exclaimed that I officially would never be a teenage mother. It was a joke, of course. Mostly. I didn't even lose my virginity until I was in college and officially legal and I went on birth control immediately thereafter. At 20 I'd still only slept with one boy and he was so concerned about knocking me up that we often tripled up on protection - pill, condoms and spermicide. But I'd known of so many unwelcome surprises (I *was* an unwelcome surprise!) that I assumed the same fate would befall me.

When my brother, at 21, found himself an unexpected father to a very unexpected pregnancy I couldn't help but try to picture myself in his place. He loved his son, as did his girlfriend, but it was clear that this was not a path they would have chosen for themselves. They fought through those early days together and now work separately to give him a stable(ish) home. They've done their best and it's been enough, but it wasn't what any of them wanted. I look at my nephew today, at almost 11 years old and am proud of the smart, feisty boy he's become, but I cannot for a moment imagine him to be mine.

I might not have chosen the path I currently walk, had I been given the chance. I wouldn't have asked for the waiting, the heartache, the loss. But if I'm honest, I wouldn't have traded it for the alternative. I am glad that I didn't drop my 10 year old off at school this morning. I am thankful that I haven't spent the last decade wondering how I would provide for myself and my child. I would've loved my baby and I would've done my best, but I don't know that my best would've been enough.

Infertility might hold my heart in a vice-like grip, forcing me to grow in ways that I never expected and wasn't prepared for. It's battered and bruised me. Teenage motherhood would have beaten me just as thoroughly, however it's pushes and punches would've fallen not just in my gut, but in my child's. And I'm so thankful that I'm the only one taking the beating.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

repeat

I feel sometimes as though I've been woken from a comfortable slumber by a shimmering man in chains: The Ghost of Pregnancy Past. Throughout the year he wakes me and pulls me from memory to memory, hope to hope, reminding me of a world that could've been. There are times that I willingly accompany him on this journey; witnessing the seemingly unattainable becomes a welcome substitute for the real thing. But much of the time I'd rather stay in bed than relive haunting reminders of life lost.


*


To most people January might be a rebirth, new year, new you. I make the resolutions with everyone else and try to shake off the Christmas decadence, but January has a secondary identity for me. I can't help but think of that 1/1/08 due date I had with my last chemical pregnancy. I don't know what my EDDs would've been with my other chemicals - the positives weren't positive long enough for even the idle daydreams of deliveries to come.

In April I watch my husband as he pushes himself in his last few weeks of training for his annual 150 mile bike ride. I drive him to the start and pick him up at the end, cheering him along in the day in between. But I also recall how I once announced a pregnancy to him on the drive home as he "found" a positive pee stick in my purse. He was exhausted from the ride but couldn't contain how excited he was to be given another chance.

May sees my birthday roll around again, with Mother's Day hot on it's heels (or as in the case of this year, right on top). I "celebrate" Mother's Day as so many of us do, trying to recognize our own mothers while doing our best to stop from drowning in the reminders of our own empty nests. And a few days after Mother's Day, on May 14th, I think of what would've been had my twin pregnancy turned out differently. I watch friends celebrate their children's birthdays and imagine our own celebrations, which would've had the same number of candles on the brightly colored cake. And when May next approaches I imagine I'll remember the bewilderment I felt upon learning that our first IVF attempt had failed spectacularly.

September brings reminders of an entire month in which I was pregnant. Ultrasounds with beating hearts and bleeding scares. October finds us with Trick-or-Treaters knocking on our doors, but the true frights come on the 10th and 12th - the anniversaries of my m/c and d&c. November brings another chemical reminder.

And today, August 31st, is the 2 year anniversary of my first positive test with my twins. It was 10dpo and I was bleeding profusely but my obsession forced me to pee on another stick. After what appeared to be a faint positive I drove all over town, shaking from nerves, and bought test after test. Dollar Tree and FRER, Accu-Clear and CBE. Digitals were purchased but not used until the double lines were dark enough to assure that I wouldn't be faced with the dreaded "NOT PREGNANT". I showed my husband a picture of the first test when he came home from work that evening and asked him if he saw a line. He did, I confessed it was *my* line and he suggested that a bag of "celebratory Cheetos" were in order. I was pregnant.


*


This anniversary combined with the impending IVF cycle is, I think, what brings morose thoughts to my mind these days. Overlapping past feelings of elation and bounty with fears of failure, both immediate and ultimate.

I don't recall how I experienced this anniversary last year - perhaps the date passed without notice. I realize that I am now holding tight to these dates, keeping them closer to my heart than may be safe. And I wonder if it's my grip on them that prevents me from experiencing a full life. I know I cannot live in the past, cannot keep experiencing the same repeating cycle of hope and fear and loss. And yet I can't let go. What if this is my only chance at motherhood - what if those were my only babies? Isn't it normal to want to experience them fully, even if only in stained and painful memories?

Do I hold on to what might've been because I am not a mother? Or am I not a mother because I hold so tightly to what might've been? Or is it my tight grasp on the lost that *makes* me a mother?


*


"I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find." - The Shins

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

3 moments in smug fertility:

1. While walking the hall that lead to my OBs office I would pass a door labeled "Houston IVF". I peered through the lead glass door and made note of the lush couches on which a single woman usually sat. On my way to another ultrasound to see my growing twins I thought to myself "well, at least I'll never have to go there." After all, I might've had a rough pregnancy so far and I wasn't placing any bets that I was going to make it out a mom. But I'd gotten knocked up on our 5th month trying! With twins! Obviously we were fertile. Almost 2 years later I was the woman on that very same lush couch. And this was my second RE. Oh the irony.

2. Shortly after my second chemical pregnancy my husband and I had a hypothetical chat about what lengths we'd go to if we found we were *gasp* infertile. I'd began to suspect that maybe I'd need assistance to keep hold of our next pregnancy and was dipping my toes in the emotional waters of Clomid, progesterone suppositories, etc. Eventually the conversation winded to more invasive procedures - procedures we knew we'd never need. I casually asked him if he'd ever consider donor sperm, immediately reassuring him that obviously we'd never need to go there. (I'd been pregnant 3 times now!) And so self-assured was I in my husband's virility that I cannot for the life of me recall what his answer was. 2 years, countless SAs and a failed IVF w/ICSI later the topic is now far too barbed to broach again.

3. When we found out I was expecting twins I was shocked. I had already had 2 ultrasounds showing a single glowing sac, so to suddenly find 2 pumping hearts was overwhelming. "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh god." I repeated myself endlessly as the ultrasound wand continued to probe. My husband took the news graciously, but I was terrified. Petrified. He felt he'd been rewarded for his struggles in life. I felt I'd been punished. I could see the dreams I'd had of pregnancy, birth and child rearing evaporate before the pulsating screen. The nurse, when mentioning my due date assured me I wouldn't be allowed to go nearly that far. "She'll take them by 36 weeks." And thus my lifelong goal of a natural childbirth was shot. I'd never heard of a mother of twins breastfeeding: another hope dashed. The list went on and on. In those first few hours I couldn't see the gift of twins, just the fears. And so, while getting on the elevator after leaving the appointment, I turned to my husband and said "I wouldn't be too devastated if one of them didn't make it."

Within an hour my fear turned to giddy disbelief. Within 24 I found myself excited about the prospect of mothering multiples. And no later than 48 hours after first seeing those beating hearts I was a mother of twins in my own heart. I loved them both so much, couldn't imagine losing either one of them and repeatedly thanked a god I wasn't certain I believed in for giving them to us. To me. Two souls to love and care for - what a gift.

I've never shared this story, not with anyone. I wonder sometimes if my husband recalls that moment in the elevator. If he thinks less of me for it. If he even remembers. But I will never forget (and likely never forgive) that initial proclamation. "I wouldn't be too devastated if one of them didn't make it." I was smug. I was stupid. I had no comprehension of what devastation could be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

everybody's doing it

Imagine if you will:


You've been eyeing a new Thing-A-Ma-Bob(tm) for 2 and 1/2 years. Whatever you do, you just can't get that Thing-A-Ma-Bob out of your head. Everyone you know seems to have one (some currently have their second(!) on layaway) and they just absolutely adore them. Owners of Thing-A-Ma-Bobs even belong to special clubs and groups in which only Owners are invited. It seems like these things are just everywhere and you want one too!

Most of your friends made their own TAMB's and they turned out perfectly. You've tried for years but it seems you're just not as crafty as your friends and family. Your Thing-A-Ma-Bob just never turns out how it should (no matter how many "helpful" tips other Owners might pass along). But you can't stop thinking about them.

After a while you start to eye others' TAMBs with trepidation, sometimes telling yourself that maybe you don't really want one anyway. But you can't kid yourself. You're so eager to get in on the fun all the other Owners are having. You're getting desperate.

A friend once confided in hushed tones that she wasn't very crafty either, but she "knew a guy" who could help. So you seek him out, hoping that he might be able to finally get you your TAMB. His shop is small and filled with other people, many looking quietly ashamed that they couldn't make their own Thing-A-Ma-Bob either. You keep your head down. You don't talk.

Your name is finally called and you sit down with a man who might finally be able to make you an Owner. You're elated when he tells you that there's no reason you can't get your own TAMB. He gets people new TAMBs all the time. You're feeling good, your hopes are up. But, he warns you, your path to Ownership? It's not going to be easy - as a matter of fact, it might be somewhat painful - and then there's the little detail of cost.

Yes, most people get their Thing-A-Ma-Bob's for free, but since you couldn't make your own it's going to get a little pricey. He tells you he has no choice but to ask you to hand over 12.8% of your annual income and he'll see what he can do about getting your TAMB ordered. He needs the money up front - 12.8% of your pre-tax income! - and although he's "sure it'll all work out", when you read the fine print you learn that only 65% of his clients actually go home with TAMB in hand. And if you're not in that 65%, well, sorry. No guarantees. No refunds. But you can always place another order next month.


Can you imagine what kind of person would hand over that money - that 12.8% of their salary - with only a 65% guarantee of getting what they paid for? What kind of a state-of-mind must that person be in, to make that leap of faith and give up so much without any promise of ANY return?

And we wonder why the Potential Owner is seriously considering a nervous breakdown.