Friday, December 24, 2010

My wishes are modest

I'm feeling terribly no-nonsense at the moment and this will be reflected in my Christmas wishes to you. I know that for some of you, this Christmas is really going to be awesome. And for some, it's going to be so-so or perhaps miserable.

The forecast on mine is so-so with a chance of crappy. Maybe the pinot noir in the car can help it a bit. 

But wherever you are and whatever state of mind you are, here is what I wish for you. May you have moments of being in the present moment and fully inhabiting your life exactly as it is right now. May you be able to taste the joy of being alive, whether that's done in sipping a good wine, receiving a warm hug, laughing with someone you love, or trapping snowflakes on your eyelashes.

My second wish is obvious: May the stork visit all of us who have been waiting on her for far too long. And may those of you who have a date with the stork already scheduled, may she bring you a healthy and content little one.

Merry Christmas, dear women. Joy and peace to you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'm back. I wasn't far, just not in posting distance. Well, I did post some comments, but that's about all I could manage. I am still trying to catch up with comments. Please forgive your slow little owl. 

This new schedule is a bit grueling. The Monday morning drives have so far been 2 for 2 brutal ones, where the 90 minute drive gets stretched to 2-2.5 hours. I'm hoping for the best for tomorrow, but who knows. Snow squalls have been relentless. Here's my typical morning routine. 6:15: wake up, drink water, rub eyes. 6:17: think about morning yoga practice. 6:20, walk to the front window of the guest house where I'm staying and assess the situation. 6:21: Holy moly! There's a ton of snow in the driveway! Screw yoga, I have to shovel this snow. 7:35: Back inside the house, sweaty and with mildly achy back. Yoga would be nice now, but I have to get to work!

The new job is going well. I like the people I work with and the team-based approach is something I really enjoy. It must be said that I had moments of feeling completely overwhelmed this week. The responsibilities I have on our team are not slim and my self-doubts were reminding me far too often that I wouldn't measure up. But my self-doubts haven't cornered the market on truth, so they can voice their opinions, but I don't have to buy what they're selling.

And Christmas. What? Is that really happening this year? I've been dreading it and now it's upon us and I haven't done a thing about it. I don't even have a present for Mr. August.

We got "the package" from the fertility clinic this week, making the egg donation all the more imminent and real. The price tag was a bit hard to see, even if I know how much it is and even if I know that it is far less than treatment in the US. It's just that I haven't worked for money since June and my husband is an organic farmer. You do the math. We can access more money, but it will require asking parents. I was hoping to avoid that situation with my new job, but it looks like they want the ivf paid in full by Feb. 2, which may not give me enough time to amass the sum of money needed and pay for my (hopefully last effing) tuition in January, rent at two places, and manage my current debt. Like many people, money worries make me a bit coockoo, but I don't need to go on about it here. Many of you are in the same boat, I suspect, because no matter where you live, fertility treatments ain't cheap and life doesn't stop because you're infertile and need to pay for treatments.

My quest to welcome visions of a pregnancy (my pregnancy) continues. I went out for brunch with a friend this morning and when she was asking about next year at this time, I said "well, I could be on mat leave". It's not something I would say to someone who doesn't know about our journey, but it was safe with her. I think about December 2011 and allow that this may be the month when we welcome our baby. I'm not entirely comfortable with it, but I'm going with the 'if you can't make it, fake it' principle on this one.

I've decided to let myself hope. If the egg donation fails, it will hurt like hell. But no amount of holding off on hope right now can prevent that pain. It will hurt either way: whether I hope for it now or stop myself from hoping. Yet it's hard to imagine it working if I don't allow for it in my mind and in my body.

 Funny how hope for a pregnancy and baby through egg donation has not taken away the pain of infertility. Not really any of the pain at all. What part of me thought it would, I wonder. I've had two most beloved friends call in the last 2 weeks to announce their pregnancy. I wish it weren't so painful, but it is. They were both stellar, amazing, sensitive and immensely compassionate in how they conveyed the news. Both of them cried because it hurt their feelings to hurt mine. It also broke my heart that their great news couldn't be shared in a more ebullient way. IF gets in the way of so much, and I just resent it for interfering.

It feels hard to reconcile these different stances and the conflict inside feels hard to manage. Hope, pain, hope, pain. Sometimes, in kind of a superstitious way, I start to fear that letting the pain have some space could negate my investment in hope.

Enough ramblings. I hope you have a great week before Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

IF in the media

Remember when I got interviewed for an article and posted my answers here? Well, the article came out yesterday. Here is the link to it below. I'm not sure what I think about it, yet, but I wanted to share anyway.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Synthesizing Blockage

You may not have time for a TED talk right at the moment, but this one is worth it. So when you get home tonight, come back to this post and click on the link above. Sit down, maybe with a cup of deliciously bitter Chinese herb/mushroom tea (ok, I'm speaking for myself here), kick back and take it all in. It's glorious. Dan Gilbert pushes the limits of what we thought about happiness by explaining how we manufacture happiness in our brain cells, even when we think there is no happiness to be found. I viewed this talk 4 years ago and have come back to it many times since, because I find it so compelling.

The Cole's Notes: Dan Gilbert, a flamboyant Harvard social psychologist, describes how we're each built with a psychological immune system. What does that mean? He argues what the Buddhists have known for millennia, that the external conditions of our lives are not what creates happiness in humans. Well, not long term happiness anyway. He says we overestimate the importance of external events in their ability to make us happy, when in fact they don't matter that much. We can create happiness out of shitty circumstances no problem, Gilbert says. Watch the talk to see how he demonstrates this through a series of interesting experiments. He also peppers his talk with astounding anecdotal accounts.

The Kicker: In one of the experiments he discusses towards the end of his talk, Gilbert describes how two groups of students were compared on their ability to synthesize happiness. In both groups,  students took a photography course. After taking a number of pictures on campus, they were taught how to develop the pictures and were allowed to develop 2 large size pictures. Both groups of students were told that they would be allowed to pick one and relinquish the other as proof of participation. Students in one group (reversible group) were told that if they changed their minds over the next 4 days and wanted to switch pictures, that would be totally cool. Students in the other group (non-reversible group) were told that their decision was final. When contacted 3 days and 6 days later, those in the non-reversible group, those whose decision was final, liked their pictures a lot. Those who were still deliberating about exchanging their pictures (reversible group), really weren't happy with their picture.  Gilbert concludes that those in the reversible group were not able to properly synthesize happiness because they were left ruminating about changing their picture.

The IF-Link: I've been reading IF blogs for a while now and I'm always trying to draw patterns in the data I find there. Mea culpa: I can't help it, really. It's not that I see your blogs as data. It's more that I think about your blogs and your lives as those of individuals 80% of the time, and I think about broad trends in the data about 20% of the time. That's just my over-intellectualized defense, trying to make sense out of a world of chaos. Anyway, you can hate me now, but let me make my point. I was reading Jess' blog post today about how something in her just snapped and she no longer wants to be stuck on feeling miserable because she doesn't have a baby. It got me thinking about how much we put on this external event and how much we expect it to bring us happiness. Don't get me wrong: I'm 100% certain that having children will make us all happy. The part that I'm thinking about right now is the unhappiness in the meantime, as Jess so aptly describes.

I feel like the "unhappiness in the meantime" has largely to blame the sense of reversibility many experience in the way treatments are structured. The choice is always all on patients; there are always more complex (and expensive) treatments to solve the problem of infertility; it is rarely final unless: a) the woman achieves pregnancy or b) the couple gets off the ART ride. I mean, is there anyone reading this who have been told by their RE that there was nothing more they could do for you? I'm not bitching about having options here, I'm just making a point that all this choice of further treatments is actually, in Dan Gilbert's words, stopping us from synthesizing happiness. If treatments had finality somehow, we would be able to move on. Psychologically, this would be at our advantage. Yet, since many have gotten pregnant only after several grueling years of fertility treatments and quitting sooner would have obviated that success, it would also represent a disadvantage.

I am not suggesting that we quit trying and I am not putting down any of us for our persistence. I just want to highlight what I think makes women and couples miserable in this process (aside from the obvious lack of infant in their arms). If Infertility was like amputation, we would move on with the business of living our lives without our right arm. But IF is the land of question marks, of reversibility, of maybe one more time or with a different RE. It never lets the dust inside us settle, but instead keeps us actively focused on external outcomes for a chance at happiness.

May we all take utter delight in a small joy today and remember that it's in us to feel, this happiness I speak of. May we all get our babies home, and may we remember to find joy in the meantime.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I made it to work by a decent time on my first day. I even got there before my manager. Turns out that a gigantic snow storm was just getting going in FTT and like a dart, I landed smack dab in the bulls' eye. It started snowing on Sunday morning at some point and ended around 5pm today (Tuesday). The latest estimates puts the snowfall at about 1 meter (3.3 feet), and another 20 centimeters (8 inches) is forecasted to fall overnight. 

My little Neko  has done very well at plowing through the glorious mounds. I have been zooming around town without much difficulty, which is more than I can say for many who drive on their all season tires. Yes: I am a winter tire snob. 

All this snow is making me nostalgic. I've been reminiscing of my childhood in Québec in which snow featured centrally.  My native province is known for its cold weather and abundant snowfall, which typically begin shortly after Halloween and ends mid- to late April (with a few May snow storms on record). There is no point in hating snow if you live in Québec. It's like saying you don't like sand in the Kalahari. You're really in the wrong place.

I took a walk this evening and noticed many snows delights. Snow makes a city much quieter than usual. It absorbs sounds and creates this cottony silence. I can't tell you how much peace my heart derives out of that silence. I saw Christmas lights in trees covered in snow. I saw two kids giggling themselves silly as they slid down the 6 feet high snow mound in the driveway. And then 2 more kids ducking inside their snow fort at the approach of an enemy presence (i.e. me). I felt the biting wind on my cheeks and thought about my long down coat I left in Pleasantville. I walked on the street because sidewalks had not been cleared and would have needed to wade up to mid-thigh. I love the snow so much.

Whereas day 1 at work was very full, day 2 was cut short by this snowmania. Employees got sent home at noon. I wondered briefly if I would accrue brownie points by staying past noon, but it appeared that all lights were turned off and all offices were locked shut. I briefly contemplated staying and getting some important reading done for my new job, but then thought about the important revisions I had to do for my dissertation. I high tailed it out of there. I thought working at Star.bucks would be fun, maybe I could even get a decaf soy latte to crank up the juices, but I banged my nose on the locked door. The whole city was shutting down fast. City buses have now stopped running and will only re-start on Thursday morning.

I say this is a good start for the little owl. A gradual entry into my work duties because of snow was not what I expected, but I accept it happily. Thanks for your encouragements for my Sunday night post. I was a tad anxious and it felt reassuring to read your comments.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quaking Owl

That's me, loosing a few feathers as I write this. 

I'm gathering myself together and trying to pack for tomorrow morning's drive out to FTT (fertility treatment town). I start my  new job there in the morning. Huge amounts of snow have been falling on that city, with much more to come today, this evening and overnight. I'm feeling nervous about the drive, on top of feeling nervous about everything else. Such big shoes to fill in this new position (and such tiny little owl feet to fill them). Argh! It is so uncomfortable when doubt grips you by the ovaries. You'd think with my non-functioning ovaries, I wouldn't feel it, but that's a misconception.

I'm trying to borrow some confidence from my friends who can see me more clearly. They know I can do it and they are very smart people. So, my job is just to trust what others see in me, and stop asking myself to see it at this moment. I may be able to do that later, but apparently not today.

A trip to the gym, packing, book club, more packing, an hour with Mr. August, and then bedtime. Up at 5:30 tomorrow and saying a little prayer for my drive, hoping I make it in one piece.

In other news, I met with my advisor this morning who gave me some revisions to look after. About 1-2 days' worth or work. And then it's off to the committee. We calculated a mid-March defense. This is exactly when I'm anticipating the ET to happen. I'm already imagining my call to me advisor: "Um...March 14 isn't probably going to work, because that's possibly when 2 embryos will be inserted into my ute in hopes that they become babies. Can we do it on the 17th?"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A little sweetness

I was so excited to read that the lovely Ashley over at Calmly Chaotic picked me for a Cherry on Top award. It made me blush! Thank you very much for this award, Ashley. I invite you all to go visit her gorgeous blog for three important reasons: 1) She is passionate about design and posts the most beautiful finds she hunts down in between injections, 2) She is Canadian like me and admit it, you love Canadians, and 3) She is in the midst of her first IVF cycle and had her egg retrieval yesterday. She would gladly receive your comments and encouragements.

And now, I would like to pass this award on to these 5 beautiful bloggers (even if I have the great pleasure of reading more than 5 beautiful blogs)

Egghunt at Still Searching for our Golden Egg 
Rebecca at The Road Less Traveled 
Lady Pumpkin at Planting a Pumpkin Patch
Roccie at Roccie Road
Misfit at Misfit Mrs

(gosh, that was hard to pick just 5. I wanted to pick at least 20. Ok, I know, play by the rules.). Here are the rules: Link back to the person who awarded you, and then pick five blogs to pass on the award too.  Make sure to comment on the awarded blogs so they know they've been picked.

In non-cupcake award-related matters, I wanted to let you know that the cell phone purchase is going down tonight. Yikes! Roccie totally shone a spotlight on my cold sweats. I am a bit nervous, indeed. I'll have to learn how to text! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I am such a freak. My 72-year-old father has a cellphone, and I'm ill at ease at the thought of getting one. What can I tell you?

In other news, Sattva just passed her board exams yesterday. It's a huge, big deal. I am so, SO thrilled for her! I thought you would be happy for her too, since I know many of you have a fondness for our beloved Sattva.

As for me, I must sign off and go worry about my tables, figures and appendices, if I ever want to get to the board exams stage.