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.


shawnandlarissa said...

I love reading your blogs.

Good luck with the new cycle. Something so unconventional can be a little scary and yet, it might just be the thing that does the trick.

Larissa (smilelari)

Emily said...

You are a fantastic writer. You sucked me right in and pulled it all back together beautifully at the end. Bravo!

"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 think this is something we could all do well to remember. Dr. Google's sucess rates must hover around 0% ;)

Thanks for all your bring to this journey! I like having you along...

Echloe said...

That was a beautiful post. I need to remember the same things. I remember one of my doctors calling me "type A" aka a control freak. I think IF is hardest on us who feel they can control everything.

Hopefully free-falling with this new RE will bring you into that 65% success rate. Good Luck!