Saturday, August 30, 2008


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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

death, taxes and parenthood?

"What about Zuma? When we have a baby should we name it Zuma?"

This has been a common refrain in our household since long before we were even married. I hear an unconventional name (or a word that could become an unconventional name: Badger, anyone?) and turn to my husband and suggest that we use it. It's always a joke - obviously, I mean Zuma? We all know I'm not smoking anything that would cause me to think that's a good idea. - but I think subconsciously it's been an attempt to scare the hubby with names so outlandish that my preferred, slightly offbeat monikers will seem tame in comparison. Regardless of our current status we still play this little game on a weekly basis. I haven't even adjusted it to "*if* we have a baby" - not yet willing to vocalize that this whole parenthood thing just might not be in the cards for us. But for awhile now the phrase catches in my throat for a moment. "When we have a baby..." How can I be so sure?


I dreamt last night that I was 40 weeks pregnant and in labor. My stomach bulged unnaturally in front of me and on the right side I could feel individual fingers and toes. I brushed my hands along my belly, feeling odd ridges and bumps of knuckles pushing out through my skin. I remember thinking that it was a strange feeling, not entirely pleasant, but that I was determined to experience it to the fullest as I knew I was so lucky that I was in a position to feel it at all. I'd beaten infertility and recurrent miscarriages and was now finally about to deliver a baby. A doctor entered the room to assist in the home-birth I'd requested. He had me lie on the bed but didn't check to see if I was dilated. Rather he produced a scalpel and began to slice away at my full belly. I calmly asked him to stop, told him that I'd like to at least try for a vaginal birth. He shrugged his shoulders, said "to each his own" and put away the knife. For countless hours I labored, feeling uncomfortable but no real pain. Occassionally I checked myself for dilation (the doctor clearly wasn't interested in doing things the old fashioned way) and learned that I was progressing. After hours of seemingly endless labor I found I was finally fully dilated and my baby's head was flush with the opening of my birth canal. Even upon feeling my own child's hair, wet and matted to the top of her head I wasn't frantic or even excited that I had finally reached this point. Even now I didn't quite believe that the baby would ever arrive. Or arrive alive. I knew I needed to push and push I did, but it did little good. I didn't feel any contractions and couldn't time my pushes appropriately. For hours I continued (often on the floor in an empty room) knowing that it would do no good. My body simply didn't know how to reproduce.

Just as my dream-self had anticipated she never did deliver that baby. I awoke, leaving my dream; leaving her crouched on the ground alone, doing everything she could to birth a baby who had no chance of ever being born.


I've taken nearly three weeks of birth control pills now and will take three weeks' more before beginning stims. For over a week I've had consistent spotting and as of last night a bout of bright red bleeding, spilling over the edges of my pantyliner. I know it's normal to spot while on birth control pills and I'm not genuinely concerned. But I can't help but wonder if my body will ever (EVER) succeed in not bleeding for more than 3 weeks. Pregnancy never held the blood at bay, even when the babies were healthy and hearts beating. Medication eased the spotting some, but full-flow always arrived before the meds stopped. Perhaps PIO will be the key and in this next cycle I will manage to stay dry until after my beta. Maybe. Or more likely I will start to bleed again. Before I've even had the chance to hope.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Sometimes the going gets tough and the tough get going. And sometimes the tough get tired.

Generally speaking, infertility doesn't beat me. It doesn't keep me home and night, wailing about my sad, barren womb. I don't cry at A Baby Story, wishing it was me begging for the epidural after 3 contractions. I usually don't begrudge celebrity pregnancies and am more often than not genuinely happy for friends/family as they announce their impending bundles of joy.

For some infertiles having a baby-based business would be excruciating (and I don't blame them). But I started mine at the year anniversary of the loss of my twins, about a month after learning of the MFI that meant IVF was in our future. I didn't do it to torture myself, but rather because I enjoy knitting baby items, enjoy giving baby items, enjoy seeing the glee on a new mom's face when she receives a handmade keepsake. And it allows me to feel just a little more included in that world; a world that is so distant in so many ways.

I like to touch pregnant bellies. Call the infertility police if you must, but it's true. I hate the movement among the bellied that shrieks about the injustices of the dreaded "bump bump". I can't get one of my own - is it too much to ask you to share yours? I even still like babies; still *love* babies. I especially crave the little ones, the moldable ones, the ones who ask nothing of you but a cuddle or perhaps a light bounce. I would happily sit in a maternity ward with a baby pressed to my body, gently rocking without realizing it. Admittedly there is a baby age at which I become completely inept: they aren't old enough to tell me what they want and I'm not experienced enough to know. But I still enjoy their company.

I'll be fine, happy, outgoing for months. And then, suddenly, when I'm not looking, I'll lose all my healthy balance and perspective and just want to live in a baby-free world for awhile. I'll dread a trip to Target, knowing that the bumps seem to congregate there. I'll wish my business was in knitting chemo caps, not baby hats, as cancer seems less depressing. And I'll wonder how in god's name I'm going to buy one more baby gift for one more pregnant woman for one more shower. I'll wonder how I'll force my feet to cross the threshold into a baby store or the children's section of a bookstore. I wonder how I'll wrap one more present in pretty pastels representative of the genitalia that is to come. I wonder how I'll manage to crawl through the door of another celebration for another woman who cradles her full and twitching belly as I watch the presents mount.

A woman whose early pregnancy I've happily cheered along at every step posted an ultrasound photo today of her beautiful perfect baby. She spoke of the bobbing and weaving her little one did, moving hands and feet and bringing her to tears. She's worked so hard for this pregnancy and lost so much along the way; I delight in these happy moments. But seeing the caption of the photo "9w1d" became too much to bear. 9w1d. A joyous milestone for someone with a happy ultrasound. But a terrible reminder for someone whose pictures at 9w1d weren't moving. A reminder of how beautiful those babies looked, how perfect and pristine and beautiful they were. And how still. How heartbreakingly still.

So today it is all too much. Today I am beaten. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning, a new hope. But tonight I'm just so tired.


I am hesitant in writing a post like this for although this is my space to say what I feel, I know that people who I love and adore will read it and wonder if I'm speaking of them. I'd hate them to think that my excitement for them has been anything but genuine (although if they really know me they'll know that I don't say things if I don't mean them). And so if you're reading and wondering, know that it isn't you. And even if it is you, it's me. But that it doesn't make *me* any less happy for *you*.

Friday, August 15, 2008

trial (transfers) and tribulations

I have a pretty impressive bladder. So impressive, in fact, that I usually pee right when I wake up in the morning and then not again until I get home in the evening. Five days after I started work at an office building (about a million years ago) I found myself with my underwear deep in my crack and no safe place in which to extricate it. So I asked my boss where the restroom was. She simply could not believe that I'd gone an entire week without needing a daytime piss. (What is more amazing is that I'd gone that long without a wicked wedgie.)

Even a woman with a bladder of steel finds some difficulty on the day of the Trial Transfer, though. The words "drink 48 oz. of water in the 2 hours leading up to your appointment" strike fear in the heart of many, myself included. However, I cannot help but try and be an overachieving patient and so I dutifully down my 48 oz. And then some.

I took myself out to my favorite breakfast joint this morning, prior to my transfer appointment. On the way there I drank an entire bottle of Evian, filling myself so much that I was unable to finish my waffle. (Wait, did I say waffle? Me, on the no processed carbs PCOS diet? No. Surely I meant "eggwhite only omelet". Yes. Omelet.) Although I couldn't shove down that "omelet", I did manage to consume large quantities of coffee and a glass of squeezed-before-my-very-eyes orange juice. And not wanting to find myself with a bladder improperly inflated I requested another glass of o.j. for the road.

On the 45 minute drive to the doctor's office I had a sudden realization. I had to pee, yes, but I was also experiencing a certain "unsettled" feeling in a nearby region. Somehow I'd forgotten that coffee can sometimes make me "uncomfortable" and when you add in Metformin, well, terrible tragedies could result. By the time I arrived at the office there was a definite rumbling that I tried my best to ignore. I couldn't use the bathroom - I don't know if you ladies are more talented than I, but if I let loose on one area the other is bound to follow, and I needed that brimming bladder! So I crossed my legs and hoped for the best. If things go well there is a damn good chance that in 10 months time I will find myself crapping on a table in front of a team of doctors. OBs expect that sort of thing and I have no reason to suspect I will be immune. (Although remind me not to drink coffee (decaf, of course) past 36 weeks.) However, I don't think an RE is quite as accustomed to witnessing her patient's bowel movements up close and personal.

A few moments after I undressed and gingerly positioned myself on the table the doctor entered (which was welcome after I waited THREE HOURS with a full bladder for Dr. Who to bless me with her presence during my first Trial Transfer). The nurse accompanying her grabbed the ultrasound probe and while I would ordinarily be grateful for the abdominal u/s, as opposed to the vag cam, having a big flat wand pressed on your belly while you desperately need to pee (and in my case, shit myself) is less than optimal.

But I made it. I even managed to crack a joke about how well the spotlight shining on my crotch highlighted my ridiculously unshaven legs. (They told me they wouldn't have noticed if I didn't mention it, but that now my chart would be branded with a giant "DOES NOT SHAVE" stamp. I told them I didn't mind, I was paying them so I'd come as hairy as I liked. We all had a good chuckle.) After learning that my ute doesn't ask for a secret handshake to enter (I told you I was a whore) and that I am a textbook-easy transfer, I was finally allowed to head to the bathroom. And in just another example of why I love this clinic, they told me that the restroom was just around the corner and that if I was desperate I should just wrap the sheet around me and run down the hall. No one would mind. And they were serious! God, I love this place.

I do. I love this new doctor and her office and her staff. I love the personal attention they offer. Except when that personal attention means waiting outside the door to the tiny (stall-free) restroom so they could show me to the consult room when I was finished. Ordinarily that would be a welcome and thoughtful gesture, but when one plans to violently abuse the bowl and cannot control what sounds or smells might escape...well, a bit of space would have been appreciated. So I sat down and doing my best to contain the beast, I let a trickle run. That was the longest pee in history. I knew that if I forced it at all there would be no control over the nether regions, so I just let gravity do it's work. I swear it was 10 minutes before the last drop hit the water. But I escaped without any further breaches and the nurse dutifully waiting outside was none the wiser. Damn, I'm good.


On a *much* *much* more exciting note than my bathroom escapades, guess who is officially knocked up?! My fairy godmother, Gretchen, had her beta today after IVF #2: 240! Two hundred and forty! At 14 dpo! That girl is so having twins and it couldn't happen to a nicer person. Go congratulate the new mom-to-be!

In other fantastic news, our dear Busted transferred a sibling of the Doodles this morning in her first FET. Send all the implanting/dividing/growing vibes you've got her way!

Let's make Spring '09 beautiful!

Friday, August 8, 2008

the drug den

I think pot should be legal.

That said that I feel like a complete and total fraud even just saying the word "pot". It seems like a total square such as myself shouldn't be allowed drug slang, my vocabulary relegated to include only the word "marijuana". Or perhaps, when feeling particularly outspoken, "the wacky tobacky". Years ago an old friend took up smoking as a full-time hobby (even securing and subsequently losing a job at a bong shop). He had once been as innocent as I still am, but I knew we were no longer on the same playing field when the word "weed" flowed smoothly from his lips. And he didn't look like an impostor saying it.

I have smoked pot exactly once in my life and only in Amsterdam where the indulgence was entirely legal. We were in the beautiful city for four days, at museums and cafes. On our journeys around the town it was impossible not to walk past countless "coffee shops" and I knew at some point I would build up the courage to venture inside. It took until our last day in the city to finally cross a shop's threshold, asking the jovial man behind the counter to peruse the menu for me, as I couldn't begin to decide for myself which variety to order. He seemed thrilled at the possibility to serve a true virgin (in once sense of the word, anyway) and took great care in selecting a small bag of green for me. I was far too intimidated to smoke in public, certain that I would look foolish as I choked and sputtered on the first foreign smoke to ever enter my body. (To this day I have never inhaled even a cigarette.) So bag in hand we set off, back to our hotel room which I'd comically stocked with oranges and Pringles, in preparation for "the munchies". My (now) darling husband had smoked many times before (cigarettes daily and the other on various occasions throughout his youth), but it had been years since he'd fumbled with rolling papers and it took much time and copious cursing to finally construct a pathetic joint. I didn't cough, didn't look particularly stupid as I inhaled deeply and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I didn't get the munchies but did find myself suddenly very ready for some action (unfortunately it seems the drug sometimes has the opposite effect on men). I can say nothing bad about the experience and sometimes look back on it with a longing to replay that night. But I don't. I'm just not a drug do-er.

I do my best not to take medication when I am feeling unwell. Perhaps it was growing up in my father's house, surrounded by natural supplements and homeopathic treatments. I remember him treating a wart on his thumb by taping a fresh slice of garlic to it daily. (Gross in more ways than one, I know, but it's true and it worked.) Sore throats were attended to with hot water, lemon and honey (and occasionally a bit of whiskey), rather than nyquil or halls. Headache remedies consisted of nothing more than quiet, dark and sleep. It was better to let our bodies heal themselves, rather than cover symptoms with pills and liquids. And better still to find the source of the ailment and fix it.

Although I've never strapped a spice to my thumb and occasionally take advil to combat a headache, I still do what I can to avoid medication. I fight through illness without trips to the doctor or copious amounts of antibiotics. I still find quiet to be the best solution to a headache. I hope to someday give birth to a baby using no pain medication (although I will never say never).

And yet, at present I am taking 10 pills, one after another, every single night. And this is the easy part. In a few weeks I will start the shots: fsh produced in the ovaries of genetically modified hamsters, the purified urine of post-menopausal nuns, a synthetic decapeptide with high antagonistic activity against naturally occurring gonadotropin-releasing hormone. And then come the patches, to be followed closely by both progesterone suppositories and progesterone in oil, ensuring that both my crotch *and* my ass get in on the action.

I received a box brimming with this medication on Wednesday, not to mention the needles and syringes I'll use to administer it. I am so thankful to have it, to know that science has been able to compensate for the shortcomings in my and my husband's bodies. I even look forward to the first injection (much like I eagerly anticipated swallowing of the first of many birth control pills on Tuesday). But I would be lying if I said I don't sometimes look at that box and wonder how I got here. How I went from being someone who treats UTIs with cranberries to a woman who willingly (and sometimes gleefully) pushes the plunger on a syringe containing so many foreign hormones and synthetic substitutes, straight into her bloated abdomen.

Clearly I got confused along the way. How could I spend a lifetime passing on pot and ibuprofen only to find myself fiending for a shot of the good stuff: the nun pee?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

comfortably numb

I try not to be a materialistic person. I have no interest in name brands (and would frankly feel like a sucker if I spent hundreds on a purse, just because the label was shiny). Our house is modest and in no one's taste but my own. I drive a 7 year old VW Beetle which I love and will only trade in when necessity dictates - hopefully for my all-time dream car: a VW Passat Wagon. Anyone who sees my clothing must know I don't place a lot of emphasis on appearance. And yet, when I need comforting, I am so drawn to *things*.

I think it might be hereditary. My mom has a shirt she's always called her Wallowing Shirt. It's a (now) paper-thin XXL grey shirt emblazoned with the phrase "Shafton High School Wrestling Team". Whenever she's in need of some serious self-pity she puts on the shirt, climbs into the closet and wallows. She whines and "why me"s for as long as necessary, then crawls out of the closet, folds up the shirt and goes about her business. That shirt was there for her when my dad was blatantly cheating and through her subsequent divorce. She wore it when her second husband convinced her to move 1200 miles from her teenage children and again when that marriage dissolved. She's offered me the shirt on occasion and I've considered taking it, but I seem perfectly capable of wallowing in my own wardrobe.

I don't have an official shirt, but I do wrap myself in my baby blanket ("blankie"), which was sewn for me while I was still in utero. My husband always found this habit odd (even though blankie has slept with us every single night we've been together) until one day when he was doing some wallowing of his own. Curled up on the couch, feeling bitter about the unfairness of it all, I pulled blankie around him, shoved Puffy (my Puffalump - also around since my very early years) in his arms and let him be. Somehow he then understood why sometimes you need a tangible manifestation of grief and self-pity.

When the going gets really tough I pull out the big guns. I drag my king-sized quilt off my bed and huddle under it in front of the TV. It's clearly too enormous to fit comfortably on my sofa, but I can wrap and wrap myself in it. A thinly veiled metaphor for armor worn to shield myself from the world, no doubt. But it gets the job done.

I don't have a problem with finding comfort in these items. They bring me peace and calm, whether I'm needing it desperately at the moment or not. But I've added to my arsenal in recent years, and my new shields are a bit more disturbing.

I was under a general anesthesia when I had the D&C that pulled my twins from me. It was my first hospital visit, my first anesthetic procedure. I knew I would be stripped and put in a hospital gown, but I never imagined that I would trade in even my socks, exchanged for bright teal hospital issue slipper-socks. I wore these cheap acrylic socks through the pre-anesthesia interview, through the blood drawing and the IV* placement. And while the rest of my body was exposed during the procedure, my feet were shielded. Those socks forming a cushion between my limp feet and the cold stirrups.

I wore them home that day, not having the energy or will to switch footwear afterwards. (And I kind of felt like I should get something out of the deal, although admittedly I made a lousy trade in swapping socks for babies.) I wore them that entire day while curled in my quilt cocoon and gratefully numbed with vicodin and valium. The next morning, while still coming to terms with the fact that my babies weren't with me, I reached for my cheap acrylic hospital socks. Maybe for warmth, but more likely for the connection they seemingly held with my twins. I'd taken off my clothing for that procedure; my earrings, my wedding and engagement rings. The only thing that was with me in my final moments with my twins was those socks.

Yesterday, when feeling cozy and quiet as Edouard passed overhead, I donned those same socks. Not because I needed comforting, but because they have become a symbol of calm in my world. And surprisingly I find that the things I listened to/watched in the days and weeks following that loss also bring a sense of calm. The Jeffrey season of Project Runway, which was on constant repeat in the hours after the procedure. "Over My Head" and "How to Save a Life" by The Fray - a band which I ordinarily would've shrugged off - now find themselves on repeat when I need to ground myself and my emotions. Grey's Anatomy, a show which I'd never seen before my miscarriage but watched from start to finish instead of working shortly after, has retained some of it's intended levity. But if I'm feeling lonely and calm it's a go-to show. And bread pudding - the physical (and only) manifestation of my mom's sympathy for me - will never be "just dessert" to me. I still eat it with reckless abandon (when not on the cursed PCOS diet - argh!) but never without recalling those days when it was all I ate.

I understand the concept of grasping for things, finding solace in stuff. I've always fallen prey. But I can't help but wonder how healthy it is to find peace and comfort in that which surrounded me in my most uncomfortable times...

(*When I went to type "IV", my fingers instinctively stuck an F at the end. What does that say about me?)

Friday, August 1, 2008

H.O.V - High Occupancy Vagina

I am a total whore. Seriously. The number of people who have been between my legs in the last two years is astounding. I've spread my legs in at least 6 different buildings (often with 2 or more people getting in on the action) and that doesn't even count my husband. Boys, girls - doesn't matter. I swing both ways. And not a single one of them has bought me dinner. I used to be a serial monogamist. I'd get serious with someone and stick with them and only them for months or years. But something has changed in me these past few years and now I swap partners nearly as often as I change my underwear. I don't even feel guilty about my promiscuity. I mean, if they're not giving me What I Need I'm moving on!

"What I Need" has changed over these years. First I needed to be able to get my feet in the stirrups without hearing the word "miscarriage". Yeah, I knew I was bleeding (although what I didn't know at the time was that in spite of the blood my progesterone was never supplemented or even TESTED) so why was she unwilling to suggest even a reduced work load? I think she figured a miscarriage would be *easier* than bedrest, but we had heartbeats - 2 of them! - so I needed just a hair of optimism. It's funny - she finally shared that optimism (and a flu shot) after a joyous ultrasound...just 3 days before I started bleeding for the final time. Dr. Doom and Gloom didn't even bother to return my call that morning. I didn't hear from her again until a few days before what was meant to be my NT u/s.

The morning of The Big Bleed I was so frustrated with Dr. Doom and Gloom that I called a different OB instead. I'd been planning on switching gynos anyway (I so obviously wasn't getting What I Needed) and when my call about the latest spot of red went unanswered I thought there was no time like the present. I liked how cozy the new waiting room was (although the Muzak blaring left so much to be desired) and was hopeful that I'd watch my belly expand along with the women sitting alongside me. But at my first meeting with Dr. Sunshine and Rainbows I learned it was not to be. She wasn't used to giving bad news and left her nurse practitioner to clean up the mess, but she was generous with valium, vicodin and ambien. At my post-D&C checkup 2 weeks later she told me that everything was great and offered a prescription for an antidepressant to "get past this stuff". Dr. Sunshine and Rainbows wasn't having any sadness, regardless of how much I'd earned it. I turned down the script and remembered not to cry the next time we met.

I didn't cry - even though she was diagnosing a chemical pregnancy (my second). I don't think I *could* cry through my shock. In a confused haze I was hearing her tell me that I would never have another miscarriage. "You only have to do that once," she said. Dr. S&R quickly realized that I'd already proved her wrong (as she'd been the one to break the news on 2 losses already) and corrected herself by saying "well, I mean, after a heartbeat and everything". She then assured me that my spotting (at least 5 days prior to AF) wasn't a problem and literally guaranteed me that I'd be pregnant in 3 months. I wanted to believe her, of course, and she was right about one thing. I was pregnant within 3 months...and unpregnant again just as soon. No, Dr. Sunshine and Rainbows wasn't giving me what I needed. Time to spread 'em for someone else.

I was hitting the big time now. I moved from the easy streets of OBs to the much seedier world of REs, hoping to find What I Need. In walked Dr. Shortcut. She listened, she talked, she expressed concern, but she didn't test - not the recurrent loss panel and not my husband - she didn't see the point. Let's get started and get pregnant. I didn't know any better, so I opened wide for Dr. Shortcut. After round one of Femara failed to stop my spotting she was ready to move on to injectibles. I suggested trying progesterone first, to which she reluctantly agreed. It stopped the spotting but didn't make a baby. She threw in Metformin, not believing I had PCOS but not wanting to dig deeper either. On the next cycle, as a last ditch attempt, I made sweet love to a catheter instead of my husband. And then we knew that Dr. Shortcut might've gotten lost along the way. My hubby's junk was fucked and the 4 cycles of meds were wasted. But we never could've known without thorough testing...

Time to move on. I Needed to skip the shortcuts and find the best. I'd like to call my next paramour Dr. Thorough or Dr. Test(e) but nothing stands out more about the man than the fact that he looked exactly like my brother. So as I listened intently to the results of SO many tests, I couldn't help but wonder if someone who so resembled my brother could really be competent. And when I looked down during the hysteroscopy and saw My Brother peering up at me from between my legs I wondered how long this affair could last. This guy was supposed to be good (and trust me, the bills implied he had to be the best) but this relationship was creepy...and our pockets were quickly emptying.

What I Needed now was someone who would get me pregnant and do it cheaply. I was so thrilled to learn after a battery of tests (including one in which I was incorrectly diagnosed with a bicornuate uterus - a diagnosis which was just as quickly dismissed when I mentioned the other doctors who hadn't agreed) that I was going to be admitted into a FREE IVF study. *This* was What I Needed and so we signed the papers and officially became patients of Dr. Who. I first spread 'em at this office in January and got my final failed beta on May 5. During those 4 months I experienced every procedure known to man and must've had three-quarters of my blood drained. I was in the office multiple times a week, and yet I never saw the doctor. I probably wouldn't recognize her if we passed in the halls. We didn't discuss test results or protocol or schedules. Dr.? Dr. Who? We finally did meet to sign the official consent forms - a brief encounter in an impersonal conference room. She had no questions for me and no time to answer those I had for her. I felt no better acquainted than I had before the meeting, but no mind. I wouldn't see her again until the morning of the embryo transfer anyway. On our third and final meeting she explained that she was sorry that my cycle had failed but they were awfully busy with the study and didn't have time to tailor individual protocols. Dr. Who Does She Think She Is might be a more appropriate name, but as I never got to know her (and never will) she'll always be Dr. Who to me.

I'm getting so desperate for What I Need. A doctor who takes me seriously, who will test me and treat me and respect me. And I think I may have found her. We've only met once, but it was a long, intense meeting. She listened to me instead of trusting the (fudged) paperwork Dr. Who sent along. She was all for using donated meds and wanted to retest my husband's blood before jumping to the "A" word. Her office is small and personal but not fancy. She wants to make changes to diet and exercise in addition to pumping me with drugs. Her (monetary) rates are pretty great and her success rates even better. I don't know that she'll get me What I Need, but I know she's going to do her best and that's all I can ask for. I'll get to know her quirks and faults over these next two months, I'm sure. And it's likely she'll earn a snarky nickname in no time. But for now I'm just going to call her Doctor.

I've been a whore these past 2 years. My feet have been in more stirrups than shoes. But I'm thinking about settling down for awhile...


On another note, in proof that sometimes good things DO happen to good people, Gretchen had her egg retrieval this morning. She went in with ~13 measurable follicles and out popped an amazing THIRTY FOUR eggs! Go wish Gretchen luck with her brood!