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


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.



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 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 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.