Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I was inspired to bake this year. I've done Christmas baking in the past, but not for a few years. I think I was inspired by Ashley at Calmly Chaotic who showed us pictures of her delicious looking baked goods. I tried those Hello Dolly bars, which were a big hit with Mr. A, as well as the whole wheat gingerbread cookies. Yum. I also made pistachio-apricot triangles, sugar cookies and espresso chocolate snow caps. Overall, the gingerbread and pistachio-apricot triangles were the ones that turned out the best. Thanks for the inspiration Ashley (and if you don't know her blog, I encourage you to feast your eyes on her lovely posts which are often filled with beautiful pictures (including of her gorgeous girls))

Christmas cookies are so fun to make
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanuka or simply, Happy Holidays. Thank you for your support and friendship this year, dear women.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Vitamin D and adoption are unrelated topics

I continue to sit at work with not much to do. Today, I have scoured etsy for last minute Christmas gifts, I have written emails to friends with whom I have not been in touch in a long time, and I have tried to read a very dry, but very relevant (but very dry) book on Learning Disabilities. I am struck by the contrast from my last job where 11-12 hours each day wasn't enough to get my work done. It's funny how it's so uncomfortable to have things out of balance, in either direction. I suspect I will be very  busy again before I know it.

So, while I have some time to spare, dear reader, let me entertain you with thoughts on disparate topics.

1) Vitamin D: If you have not come across Jay's blog at Stork Stalking, I strongly encourage you to check it out. Through reading her blogs and generous comments on my blog and others' blogs, I have come to appreciate the relevance of vitamin D in health related matters, not the least of which infertility. For a thorough explanation of the impact of vitamin D deficiency in infertility, start with her tab on the science of infertility and continue on by searching for through the vitamin D label. Jay has such a great ability to make complex scientific information accessible, and I feel very grateful for how willing she is to share her knowledge.
After reading some of the info on vitamin D deficiency, I started to supplement with 2000 iu per day. I thought it couldn't hurt. After about 2 months of this, and after my trip to Cuba in the sun, I visited my family doctor and asked her for labs, including vitamin D. Since I have osteopenia, she was all for it and sent me off to get this tested, along with the usual suspects (tsh, CBC, glucose, iron). The only thing that came up as low was, you guessed it, my vitamin D levels. I was advised to supplement with 1000 to 2000 iu per day, but I sometimes go up to 3000. And perhaps I should go higher. I have to say that I am hoping to improve my chances for the next round of treatments by making sure my D is in the happy zone.

2) Adoption: I have not given many updates on our adoption process here, so I thought I'd update you now. We did finish our home study in November and our social worker Gretchen said she would have the report done in January. We did the adoptive parent training intensive back in Sept/Oct. We are technically at the point of being a "family in waiting". Except that I have not signed us up with the agency or any licensee as of yet. I thought about doing that when Gretchen suggested we call up the agency and put our names on the list, but I think it's the wrong time right now. On one hand, I would like to put all our sticks in the fire and just see what happens. But on the other hand, it would mean that if the agency wanted to present us to birth parents, we would have to say no because we are in active treatment. And I think that knowing there are birth parents who could potentially chose us would really mess with my mind. Especially if the subsequent round of DE IVF failed. As awful as it is, I experience regret and guilt often in my life and I would find a way to regret and feel guilty for the fact that we said no to being presented. Can you see the mindfuck implications?

I still experience a conflict inside about the adoption versus the treatment route. I am and have always been very open about adoption as an option for creating our family. And I am and always have been wanting/hoping/praying to be pregnant one day.  

There is a very disentitled part of me that doesn't entirely believe we deserve the gift of pursuing treatment at a US clinic. Fortunately, there is another part of me that knows to take the gift simply because it is being presented to us, and to just be thankful. The disentitled part of me says that I should just accept my medical condition and stop trying to have science perform miracles by making me pregnant. (I know, that's quite a statement to make to a group of infertiles, but that's me, ready to shock at any hour). Move on and...wait for it... just adopt (you know I'm being sarcastic here). I realize that this makes adoption sound like the consolation prize, but that is not my point. My point is that there are babies being born from women who can conceive but cannot parent, and that I can parent but cannot conceive, so I should maybe focus on trying to parent such a baby, instead of insisting on defying the odds through a medical intervention.

But then, the 'what ifs' start bubbling up. I got pregnant last time, what if I were to get pregnant again? What if this time, I didn't have a miscarriage? What if by some miracle, I got the baby to term and we had a child through DE? Well, that would be swell (note the apt use of a euphemism).

And what is the advantage of DE over adoption for us? Well, we're not too concerned about whose genes reside in our child. Of course, we would like to avoid things like Huntington's or other such awful genetic diseases, but frankly, it doesn't make a huge difference for Mr. A or I to have our child share his genes or not. Not at this point in our journey. I know that might sound discrepant from your experiences, but that's where we are at. If the door to using your OE slams in your face, you orient towards other options. We want to be parents; that is our main priority. Then it should not make that big of a difference whether we focus on adoption or DE. The difference for me is that the pregnancy itself is a very important part. I want to be pregnant. I have had numerous dreams of being pregnant, I've always believed I would be pregnant and if there is any possibility that it will happen, I feel like I have to pursue it. I don't think it's better than adoption, I think it's just that all things being equal, I would prefer to start with our child from the very beginning.

And I know the pregnancy may never happen again. The 12 weeks we had last spring may be it. But it feels like I have to give it a good try. It doesn't put adoption off the table for us. We are thinking that a second child would come to us through adoption and it is something we both want.

I worry about this post and whether I've offended anyone in talking about where I'm at with all this. Please know that this was not intended to offend. It's just me working through all of my thoughts in writing. I think it's very tricky to straddle the ART and adoption worlds. People tend to be in one camp or the other (or one camp after the other might be more accurate). Yet, some of you straddle the two beautifully. I'm not there yet. I'm in the messy phase of sorting it all out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

the week after

Got through it fine. The date came and went. And now it's the week after the due date and I am trying to look forward.

We have scheduled our one-day intensive work up at the for Jan 6. We are flying out on the 5th and returning home by train on the 7th, much to Mr. A's delight (with a 45 min layover in Penn Station on Saturday morning, for New Yorkers who would like me to treat them to coffee). Honestly, I hate flying. I can do it wihtout having a panic attack (barely) but it really creates a lot of distress in me. I certainly was opposed to having to fly after an embryo transfer. What chance would that little peanut have with all quantities of cortisol thrown at it? While there will be no embryos transfered on this trip, we can practice the trips in and out as they will look like when we go for the transfer. Familiarity is our friend in this situation.

I am not sure what to expect. I am hopeful that all will go well and that we will like the team, but I must admit that it feels difficult to contemplate trusting another team. We have so much respect for our doctor in Ontario. It does help that the US doc and our doc know each other. My fear is that I will be treated like a number. For example, the whole question of taking lu.pron or another suppressor comes up in my head a lot. You will remember that I successfull argued against taking supre.fact during our first DE IVF cycle. I am concerned that taking a suppressor introduces too much noise in the equation for absolutely no benefit. There is nothing to suppress in my reproductive system. My pituitary gland is not sending down any LH or FSH. My ovaries most often cannot be visulazed on ultrasound. The doctor asked if my FSH was high, which is what any educated person would assume when seeing the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure. But I find that a poor diagnostic approximation for my condition. I have never ovulated. I will never ovulate. My body has never made gonadotropins. I know that's an abheration, but it's the hand I was delt. So when the doc insists on me having to take Lu.pron, not knowing how my body will respond to something it absolutely doesn't require for the procedure to be successful, I think I will have to put up a stink.

It's one thing to put up a stink with people you know, people who have treated you for years, people who already believe you are an educated and competent person. It's another thing to put up a stink with people who don't know you and might think you're a little bit spun. (which I am, really).

Anyway, I just broke my own rule by writing a blog post at work. But truth be told, I am underwhelmed at my new job and I don't have enough to do. So I feel justified.

How did it feel for you when you changed doctors and medical teams along your IF journey? Do you have any advice you think is important for me to know?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the due date

According to one IVF site, my due date was December 6. According to the nurse in our program, it was December 8. Sandwiched in between, I thought I'd submit a post to register the nonevent. A miscarriage. Months that have gone by where I imagined myself at different stages of pregnancy. And now the week, the day(s) where briefly, it was expected that we would welcome a baby into the world.

I visited my beloved therapist today. I talked about a lot of crap, but each time he brought me back to what this is: the due date. I want to avoid it, I said. We all want to get away from our pain, don't we, but you told me when we booked the appointment that it was the day before the due date. You wanted me to remember. 

Yes, beloved therapist. Yes. Remind me. Don't let me run from my pain, from my own experience. It's not much, but it's all mine.

Yes, beloved therapist. I wanted you to hold it for me. It's so hard to hold it by myself.

I feel like I said goodbye to owlet in June. In a way, I do not picture owlet having lived. He didn't. It was final. Unequivocal. I feel like this grim anniversary is not just for the little life that could have been but wasn't. It's also a marker of our failure to become parents.

I feel sad about not being able to honour Sattva's gift. I know it's nothing I did or didn't do. I just wish it could have worked.

I won't stay in this grief forever. We are moving on to the next steps. But I know that I need to pause now and mark this due date before I move on with our story. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


And I'm not talking about my winter sweaters, although those are frequently unfolding as well these days. We had a very short mini blizzard today, much to my delight. I am one of those silly Canadians who actually loves snow. Winter is on its way. Hello, cross country skiing.

There has been some progression since our return from vacation, both on the adoption front and on the fertility treatment front. We have actually completed our home study at this point. Our lovely social worker Gretchen has been to our house twice since our trip and we were able to wrap things up this week. It's just as nerve wracking as some of you have described in your posts to have the adoption counselor come over to the house. It was 2 days after returning from Cuba, and one day after starting my new job. I was frantic, but also reached a point where I had to let it go because there were too many balls in the air at the same time. The house was clean enough.  She noted a few things we need to take care of before a child can come into our home like cover the outlets, deal with the blind cords, secure some of the bookcases to the wall, but otherwise, she didn't write us off on the basis of an unkempt domicile. We like Gretchen very much and feel like we are in good hands with her. The next steps in the adoption process, given that we've completed the home study and done the parent training is to register with the private agency we have chosen, as well as some licensees in the region. We are not quite ready to do that yet, given what is happening on the other front.

Mr. A was anxious about having kids for a while in the fall, but he assured me that this anxiety didn't mean he wanted to call the whole thing off. He was in a slump, something I can relate to since I have found myself in various depths of slumps at different points in my life, and with offending frequency in the last 3 years. I can't say that at the time I was completely reassured. Maybe because I am still in slump territory myself, maybe because it's hard to trust that good things will ever happen, or maybe because that doesn't negate all the work we still have to put in to hope to become parents, but, you know, I didn't jump for joy when he said that. I just took it in quietly and thought "ok, then we'll work on our options."

The funding was a big issue for us, since it is not the kind of money we can tackle ourselves at the moment. Parents on both side have the means to help, but it was a question of stepping on our pride and asking them. On either side, we are the significant hope for bringing grandchildren into the family, as I am an only child and Mr. A has only one sibling who looks like he may not procreate. So, the answer was how much do you need and when do you need it by. That was a relief, a blessing. We have been in touch with the DC practice and even had a phone consult with the doctor on Tuesday morning. We are in the process of booking a time to go down for our one-day visit to the clinic for early January.

There is so much more to write here, but the clock has struck the 12 strokes of mid...(well, it's actually 9:40pm) and I am about to turn into a pumpkin.

Sending warm congrats to Roccie who has just welcomed little baby Jay.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Transitions update

The month of November is now almost over, and I have not posted much at all. As I've said in my last posts, there have been many transitions. A little recap of the past month:
  • I finished my contract in FTT and finished it well. I completed all my reports and said all my goodbyes. It was difficult to leave. I had grown very attached to many people there. I miss them. I also miss the comfort of knowing how to work with different team members, and knowing the procedures. But boy, I really don't miss the part about living there part time and living at home on weekends. 
  • Mr. A and I went to Cuba. It was a restful time, just as I had hoped. By chance, we landed in a terrific resort. It was terrific because it was very small, very new, very beautiful, and very quiet. The loudest part was the bus ride to the resort with patrons of other resorts in the neighborhood. Luckily, we dropped those guys off next door, and carried on with the quiet people to our resort. The week consisted of swimming, lying on a lawn chair, reading, eating, drinking and taking multiple showers in the outdoor shower on our back balcony. We really liked the Cuban people and vowed to return to explore Havana and other parts of the country. The week went by very fast, but in the end, it was what we were looking for. As promised, here are my toes:
    An unlikely pink for a not-very-girly woman
  • We returned on Sunday November 13 and I started my new job on Monday the 14th. Quick turn around indeed. My new colleagues welcomed me warmly. I liked that. So far, it's been a slow start in terms of the work. I also like that, especially after the frenetic pace of the last job. I hope that I will like the work there, but if I don't, it will be time to look for another job in early next fall. 
  • Living at home is wonderful. Minus the morning and evening commute in heavy traffic. I am driving to work towards one of the largest cities in Canada, so there is traffic. Lots of it. Luckily, Neko, my beloved little car is doing very well with all of this driving. And there is the CBC (homologous to NPR) to keep me company. Chicken is still in disbelief that I am here day after day, and most importantly for her, night after night (she likes to basically sleep on me. She tries to sleep on Mr. A when I'm not here, but he won't tolerate that. Me, I'm a big softy). 
The update on fertility treatments/adoption/our marriage deserves a longer post, one that I don't have in me at the moment. Suffice it to say that I was relieved to hear that Mr. A is still completely on board with project: bringing children into our lives.  I have lots of half written posts floating around in my head. I think it's worth my while trying to give them form and post them. But that will have to wait since I have to work on my application to start the process of getting my professional license.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

the goodness in my life

I think a little while back I may have written something about searching for this very thing, the goodness in my life. I may just have thought it and not written, but it's been twirling around up there in my cerebrum.

I got an answer to that rhetorical question over the last week. I had been pouring all of the goodness I had inside me into my work. And my work gave back in a big way. My colleagues went over the top in showing how much they cared about me. They threw me a party, got me flowers, wrote me heartfelt cards, and told me that it just won't be the same without me. The principal of the school attached to our residential program even got me a certificate of merit, which he gives to the kids leaving the program. It moved me very much.

A gift from a beloved colleague

It was hardest to say goodbye to our team psychiatrist who is a beloved clinician at the facility, and has been a benefactor to me. When he heard I was looking for a job last summer, he wrote me a glowing unsolicited reference letter. It meant so much to me, and I re-read the letter at times when I feel my self-confidence waver.

It was also very hard to say goodbye to my friend Violet. She is a clinician on my team who I told about the pregnancy a few days before the ill-fated u/s that told us it was all over. Turns out she is an expert in grief, having lost several siblings in her family and gone through other losses over the last decade. She is the one who sent me home after the biopsy. She is the one who would make me laugh, and also let me cry. She is the one person at work who really understood the state I was in and how much I was holding while performing my duties at work. I will miss her.

And now it's time to pack my suitcase and head to Cuba. I will have drinks in your honour, dear women. I will be thinking of Jennifer who very recently had yet another tragic loss. I will thinking of CGD as she continues to navigate the dark, awful waters of marital strain. I will be thinking of Jess and hoping that an adoption placement materializes in the next week.  I will be thinking of Misfit and Ocho, as they continue together. I will hope that My New Normal experiences a very positive first ultrasound.

I will write when I return, with a picture of my freshly painted toenails in the white sand (you will remember my toenails from Pumpkin's picture of our feet in the Metro in Montréal).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seventy-five percent

Thank you very much for your comments. Each and everyone of your comments meant so much to me. As my posts have become more infrequent, I am surprises to get any comments at all. But I should give you more credit than that. You are some of the finest women I know, and I shouldn't be surprised that you are still there, still offering me life giving support. Thank you.

Tomorrow, I start the last week at my job in FTT. I have 5 more reports to write, and will find a way to get those written and signed. I had about 20 to write at the end of September, so I am 75% there.

75% is the theme, this week. I visited my beloved therapist last Wednesday. I was explaining to him that people ask about my new job and want to know if I'm excited. I disappoint them invariably. I am not excited. Mr. A and I are going on vacation next week to a tropical place. Again, people search for my excitement. I just can't deliver. That's not at all how I feel about the job, about the vacation.

75% of your experiences right now have to do with grief, he said.

Yes, that's right. About 75% of what I have is spent managing my grief. Most of the rest is on wrapping up my current job, and all that that entails. He wondered if maybe there was about 3% leftover to think of my next job. And maybe another 1-2% for the vacation. He's good with math, my therapist.

I am lucky to have a job right now, lucky to be going to another job when this one ends. I am lucky to be able to have the money to go on vacation. I am lucky to have a car, a roof over my head, food on the table. I try to hold on to that.

Just don't ask me to feel excited.

I am looking forward to alternating between doing nothing and reading a book on my week off. We are going to one of those all-inclusive resorts. Not really our usual type of vacation. We would typically go canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, or visit a big city and walk around until our feet hurt and we've gotten a lay of the land. But we're exhausted. So sitting on a beach and having all of our meals and as many drinks as it's going to take to stop feeling so crappy is what the doctor ordered.

Oh, and I guess having all that time just lazing around will give us a chance to talk. For example, about whether he still wants to have children or not. I was hoping we could do that kind of talking before the vacation so we could enjoy ourselves there, but I'm not sure we'll have the time to do that before. Life keeps going at a furious pace. We are at a standstill with that issue. I know that we need to talk, but there doesn't seem to be a good time. Oat suggested writing to him, which is a great idea. It's just that my thoughts have a hard time coming together (...after 10-11 hours of writing reports about small children with very complex mental health problems). I still need to bring it up, so that we can move forward one way or another.

I need to be strong.

I just fear what could potentially come out of such a discussion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Marital Bliss

I'm reconsidering calling this blog 'Hell in a hand basket'

I am annoyed with myself that all I can do on this blog as of late is a) not write or b) complain. 

I feel like a resurgence of this blog is needed. That also goes for my whole life. A resurgence. Is there a 1-800 number for that? Can you share it with me if you have it.

I am down to the last 3 weeks at my job in FTT. It's been a great job, and it's been a completely overwhelming job. I am currently trying to hammer out the last 14 reports I have outstanding, hoping it can all get done in time before I have to hand in my keys. There are a lot of people I like very much at work and I feel sad that I will need to say goodbye. It's also been a good skill building job, a good experience acquiring job and a good resume building job.

There is another job waiting for me at the end of this one. Another mat leave coverage. Ha! The irony. But a job is a job, especially in this economy. It's also a good job where I will gain tons of experience. And, this job is closer to home. I can commute in about 45-55 minutes, and sleep at home each night. I'm relieved to have landed another job. As burnt out as I feel right now, I think being unemployed would be bad news bears.

The initial contact with large DC practice regarding the DE process has been made. Conversations have occurred between Mr. A and I. We haven't gone as far as securing the financing, but in my mind, this is where this ship is heading. In his mind? Well, that's another matter.

Hence the proposed title of my blog. Mr. A has continued with his talk of doubt about having kids. What? WHAT??? Who is this man that has been consistently telling me for the last 7 years that he wants children and wants to raise them with me?

Turns out our friends, Mr. & Mrs. Green, have procreated. Baby Green was born about 6 weeks ago. Mr. Green takes baby Green out for walks at all hours of the day and night, trying to let mama get some sleep (and also trying to create a baby who loves the outdoors just as much as his parents, I suspect). He stops by our house all the time apparently, and chats up Mr. A. Something wonderful happens in all of this, since Mr. A and Mr. G get to deepen their already close friendship. The downside is that Mr. A is appreciating more fully what babies are all about, something he never had the chance to do before. And turns out, he's not so keen on changing diapers, losing sleep, etc. Oh, and the lack of sex! Right, like there is a lot of that going on in our infertile household.

He brought this up a few times now. The last time he did, I leveled with him and said that I was volunteering for all the infant care required to maintain our child alive and happy. That didn't help one bit, as he spent the rest of the day brooding. And he's not at all a brooder, my husband of the sunny disposition.

I don't have a profound analysis of what is going on to offer. I'm just a bit baffled. I hope he comes around. This makes me feel discouraged. Oh wait, I was already discouraged. So, I am at the stage beyond that, whatever it's called.  

This is perhaps why I am not writing very much these days. How many ways can I describe discouragement? How much more is there to say about the fact that I should be going on mat leave instead of covering another woman's job on a mat leave. How much do you want to hear from a bitter woman?

I keep hoping good things start to happen and that I can feel them sink into my heart. I know there are good things happening right now in my very own life, but the joy they produce just bounces off me. I can't feel it. I can't appreciate the goodness of my life. I just keep holding on to the notion that it is there and that I will find my way to it again someday.

For those who still read and for those who still read and comment, I want to say a warm thank you. Your support continues to be very meaningful. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

rock bottom moment

There is a metaphor I really like to use with patients in my work. It spoke to me very much in a time of crisis and it has continued to resonate to this day. It goes something like this:

When you jump into a deep swimming pool and you don't get all the way down to the floor of the pool, and you try to swim up, it's hard to do. Your body had momentum from the jump and reversing the direction to go up is very effortful. When you jump into the pool and get to the floor of the pool, you can push off and get back to the surface without much effort at all. Sometimes reaching the bottom helps you to get the momentum you need to get back up.

Now, don't think that I mean to say this is the actual rock bottom of my infertility and childlessness. I realize that things can get much, much worse from here. If nothing else, my experience thus far has taught me that lesson.

I was just having supper in my car a few minutes ago. Why? I was at work until 7:15pm and then wanted to spend time commenting on blogs and responding to email, so I had to visit the local mermaid-emblemed  coffee chain that provides free internet when you purchase a very expensive drink. Why would I not just do email from home? Well, I had to find another place to board in FTT for the last 7 weeks of my contract, and this place doesn't have internet access at the moment. Gak. So, instead of going home for supper, I got something from the gourmet grocery store adjacent to the coffee shop and ate in my car. Lentil soup and bow-tie pasta salad. And REM singing about the end of the world as I know it.

It's been a hard week. 3 days of 11+ hours at work and some crappy sleeps. That seems like the new normal, but it was on the heels of yet another very crappy weekend. And then Mr. A who could not sleep on Sunday night (it's usually me or Chicken who can't sleep on Sundays). He told me in the morning that he had been up all night thinking about 'life'. In the hour that I was at home on Monday morning (5:45-6:45am), I didn't have it in my to explore what was up. I just gave him a hug and then I had to go. When I called on Monday evening, he told me it was about us having children. He wondered whether we (me) were just too tired for children, whether we (me) were too depressed for children, and whether we (me) were too irritable for children. Oh fuck. Yes we are. But I don't know what the heck more I can do about it right now.

To be fair, he wasn't saying any of this in a blaming way. He was just telling me what he felt worried and anxious about. And he was looking to me to reassure him that things would get better. Based on my belief in impermanence, I do believe things will change. But I can't see a clear picture of how things will get better. I just have to hold out hope that they will. That seemed to help him, somehow. But it left me with a horrible sense of failure. He is right. I am tired, sad and irritable. Pretty much all weekend every weekend. All the chipper I have has to be saved for my patients, their families and my team members. My livelihood depends on it.
This evening, sitting in my car, eating my supper in the dark, I felt like I did not belong anywhere. I can't stand going to where I board. I can't stand being at work anymore for today. I'm too far from my home and I am worried about what is going to happen at home, what is going to happen if Mr. A doesn't want to keep trying to have children because he's not sure about my capacity as a parent. He did call me at work today to check-in and worried that he had made me feel bad with voicing his concerns on Monday. It was reassuring to talk a bit, but what he was raising was a worse case scenario for me. Maybe IF will also rob me of my marriage.*

My rock bottom moment in the car tonight felt similar somehow to another rock bottom moment I had when I was 20. I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital on December 13, and so spent most of the Holidays in hospital. I remember Being the only patient on the unit that Christmas eve, since all the other patients had LOA passes and I didn't. I remember wondering what my life had become that I was sitting on a bed in a psychiatric hospital, listening to Simon and Garfunkel on a Christmas eve. And as awful as that sounds, I remember feeling like it was a new beginning.

It's not that I want to call it at this point. That would be premature. But things felt awful just an hour ago in the car. And at the same time, the memory of Christmas eve in the hospital came back to me very vividly. They say shit happens. New beginnings also probably happen.

*For you Ani DiFranco fans out there, it makes me think of the line in her song Done Wrong: "how could you take almost everything and then come back for the rest"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

yankee eggs?

There is much to be written on this here blog, but only so much juice left on the laptop battery (and the Augusta battery). The training weekend was certainly an interesting process. But I think I have to go reverse chronological on you, dear reader, and talk about Monday's RE appointment first.

Well, after waiting for an hour (again) we finally got to see Dr. RE. And just so we are clear, I don't mind waiting that long to see him because when we do see him, he takes the time to answer our questions in a thorough fashion. I am assuming he does this with all couples, causing to be him behind schedule. I prefer that to a jerk of a doctor who is on time. In a very funny, double-double negative (that makes 4, so that's positive, right?), Dr. RE said my lining was fine. No problemo with the cells in my lining. Also, the estrogen patch seemed to have done the trick in terms of thickness, according to him. He's happy with where we are in terms of lining and we can go ahead with what's next.

What IS next?

The options we were playing with going into the consultation were twofold:
1) Donor Eggs from Sattva
2) Donor Embryos from new Canadian program started last year

We started with number one. We talked about the possibility of taking up Sattva on her generous offer to go through the whole IVF process again. From an emotional standpoint, that is our first choice. We LOVE Sattva, and to have our family join with hers through DE is a dream that we wish could be realized. The miscarriage was awful on so many levels, the death of that dream not the least of them. The obstacle is Sattva's age, which introduces a great deal of statistical uncertainty into our baby making equation. I'm angry that this has to be a factor, but it just is. Sattva is a healthy woman who has given birth to healthy children in the past, but she is close to 38. It still makes her a candidate for pregnancy, but for donating eggs, it seems to be riskier. I think I am too afraid of it failing again.

Then there is the embryo donation program, where an existing adoption agency started a program that matches couples who want to donate their remaining embryos from previous IVF cycles to a couple in need. We are in need! The alluring aspect of this is that the couples have most likely been successful with their embryos before, since they are in a position to donate them. Also, we would have a connection to another family through this process, which is something that appeals to us very much. The cost is similar to the costs we just paid for the DE IVF, but most of it is in consultation and legal fees with the agency. We would have to do the embryo transfer at the donating couple's clinic, which seemed to worry Dr. RE. He felt that many Canadian clinics have set protocols to build a recipient's lining and they don't like to deviate from that protocol. And, as you know, I don't fit into a protocol very well (you will remember the supre.fact episode).  

Dr. RE's was pretty neutral, as he tends to be in his ethical, respectful stance. But then I asked him to help us weigh our options. To our surprise, the good doctor gave us his opinion.

You want to get the job done, he said. Which leads us to option 3:
3) DE IVF in the U.S. with an anonymous donor

It's not a new option. I haven't been living in a bubble here. I read your blogs. I know it's out there, it just never seemed to be for us. I dreamed about it privately, as it seemed it could be this high-probability-of-success-solution. But the costs are so prohibitive. However, Dr. RE's point was well taken. You can keep going with the Canadian system, which is partly funded, for a long while and end up with the outcome you want, but often after much trial and error, not to mention heartaches. The American system is fee-for-service with a greater focus on getting the job done the first time. Hmmm. I would like to get the job done. A take home baby is what we are aiming for here.

He talked about a specific large practice in the DC area with which they have had dealings with in the past. He seemed confident that the clinic in question would follow his protocol for my lining. And the young eggs. Oh, the young eggs. I hear they make good babies. Dr. RE suggested that we have a teleconference with this clinic just to talk about how it would look like. I better have a teleconference with my banker beforehand.

I must admit, the draw towards option number 3 is strong. Mr. A and I need to discuss it at greater length before we launch ourselves into that venture, ridiculous debt and all. But the draw is very strong.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

adoption chronicles

 After our first consultation with the adoption counselor in July, I felt a great deal of anxiety about the expectation that couples should have resolved  their infertility before embarking on the adoption journey. Resolved. What. It doesn't even look like giving birth to a real life baby resolves it at all, how could NOT having a baby and starting the process of adoption bring you any closer? It seemed to be one more thing I could be angry and indignant about. How could the world conspire to prevent us from being parents?

I knew about this. We talked about adoption with the psychologist at our clinic, and he was clear in stating that adoption agencies sure don't like it when couples come to them like they are backed into a corner. This was another thing that made me nervous about starting the adoption process this summer, so soon after the miscarriage, and in such rough shape emotionally.

But the alternative to not starting the adoption process was killing me. Waiting around for the effing biopsy, and mulling over the same donor egg vs donor embryo question over and over again, bombarded with doubts about my biologic capacity to grow a baby inside my uterus, all felt like a passive way of wasting time. And yes,  I know it isn't passive to grieve. BELIEVE me, all that crying and raging, and insulting people in two different languages when I am driving in my car for no reason at all is very active. But active grief does nothing to get you a baby.

We started our home study on Friday, after filling out the mound of paper work and the police clearances and the medicals, et cetera. I get myself fingerprinted tomorrow. The parent training starts this weekend. It's a little funny that the child psychologist has to go hear about attachment for 2 entire weekends, but there are no exemptions: the training is mandatory.

When we met with our social worker/adoption counselor - let's call her Gretchen, shall we - she asked us to talk about our relationship, as well as our struggles with infertility. Like probably 90% of her clients do, I explained that our experiences have been very painful and have challenged our relationship.  We said we were at the point where we needed to diversify our efforts to include adoption. And then a couple of things surprised me. First, I didn't start bawling, which I am prone to do these days every time I have to utter the words infertility and miscarriage. Second, Gretchen shared that the philosophy had changed quite a bit within the adoption world and that she felt it made a lot of sense to start the adoption process even if fertility treatments were still a possibility. It's not that I expected her to say that it was prohibited to do both, but just that we would be considered as too fragile, too eager, not ready enough. She actually praised us for our efforts to go about our process in a systematic way, understanding that time is such an enormous variable.

Was it her praise I was looking for? Not really. I just wanted us to be considered, to be accepted as a couple in waiting.  I just don't want another door to slam shut in our face. We have so few doors left.

Anyway, I can't say that what I am feeling is hope. That would be overstating things by three football fields. I am just putting one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

biopsy completed

The wretched biopsy happened last Friday. There was a small blessing to having it on Friday. As I've awkwardly described on this blog before, I live in Pleasantville, but work and receive fertility treatments in Fertility Treatment Town (FTT). 90 minutes of driving separate the two cities. The biopsy was supposed to occur on Saturday or Sunday, but at the last minute, got scheduled for Friday. This meant that I could just skip out of work 20 minutes before the procedure, make my way to the hospital and be right back at work within an hour or so, instead of driving home on Friday, and driving back and forth for the procedure on the weekend.

The rest, my friends, was pretty much pure awful.

It started on Thursday. I had to go to that hospital, the one where our clinic is located, for a matter unrelated to my fertility. New psychology interns were being welcomed and I was asked to talk to them about my experience as an intern in the program. I noticed that I was very anxious to be back at the hospital. I always get nervous about speaking in public, so I tried to explain away my case of nerves by that simple fact. But admittedly, I was also nervous about seeing a friend of mine who was scheduled to speak with me. I saw him last the night before I learned of the miscarriage and I wasn't sure if he had been told that I was no longer pregnant. I pictured a very awkward "you look great" statement, meant to refer to a pregnancy that is no longer there (and the ensuing embarrassment over the very unfortunate weight gain associated with it). Luckily, he had been told of what happened to me in late March.

I was nervous again on Friday, not surprisingly. I had a meeting at work, and something to write up for a conference I was missing at 11am while I would be busy spreading my legs a few blocks away. I took about 1000mgs of tylen.ol, knowing Dr. RE didn't want me to take That was of little help when the time came for him to tear a chunk of my insides, quite unfortunately. When I finally was called (around noon), I changed and stepped into the procedure room. The nurse settled me in and went to get Dr. RE. Very suddenly, I became overwhelmed by the objects in the procedure room. The u/s machine, the pictures of embryos, the little door to the lab, the computer screen. The last time I was in this procedure room was when we had ultrasound one and ultrasound two. I just started sobbing and as if on cue, the doctor and nurse came in, my sob momentum too strong to make the ugly crying stop. The doc said he would come back later and left me there with the nurse to compose myself.

He did eventually return and my crying stopped long enough to get the procedure over with. It hurt like jaw (I am borrowing shamelessly from Roccie's colourful repertoire of expressions) and continued to be crampy for a good hour, although the pain evolved in a merciful decrescendo (also, thanks to the addition of 600mgs of ibuprofen). I'm not sure what possessed me to return to work after that. I had another sobfest in the car and all the way back to work and again in my office. An hour after I returned - where admittedly, I just hid in my office and prayed no one would call or knock on my door - my friend the speech and language pathologist saw me in the hall. She took one look at me and said I was to go home immediately. She then came into my office and packed my stuff. This lady wasn't going to take no for an answer so I just got the car and drove back to Pleasantville.

That day seems like another nightmare in the series of nightmares I've been having. I've been reflecting on my reaction and of course, being a psychologist, I realize that what got me was the environmental cues. Those are pretty powerful suckers when it comes to triggering memories and emotions. I also had worked very hard to shove down any anxiety or emotions I had about the procedure to the dorsal chambers of my heart so that I could just not deal. Well, had I been this woman's therapist, I would have reminded her that things catch up, no matter how far back the emotions are shoved.

I asked about my lining, since it had seemed to displease him so in the past. He told the nurse 8.65 during the u/s, and then when I asked, gave me a noncommittal response that I think was in the neighborhood of not bad. I have a follow-up appointment on Sept. 19 to find out the results. I am not expecting much out of that, to be honest. I'm putting my money on inconclusive. I guess dismal endometrial cytology would suck royally, but would offer a clear direction in our efforts.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pissing in the ocean: our latest steps to babymaking

I started a mega pumped up cycle last weekend. Those descriptors are to characterize the amount of estrogen I am taking, and certainly not how my spirits feel about it. There won't be an IVF or any other attempts at pregnancy during this cycle, but instead an endometrial biopsy on labor day weekend. Something to look forward to, indeed.

Dr. RE put me on 8mgs of est.race (which includes a nightly vaginal dose resulting in bright green discharge the next day. fun). I am also on an estrogen patch (oes.clim). I change the patch every 3 days and I feel a bit dizzy on the first day of the new application. I wonder if he shouldn't have also prescribed estrogen eye drops, an estrogen nose spray and estrogen bath salts, just to make sure we had all the routes of entry covered.

What's the point of all this? Dr. RE wants to look at the cells of my endometrium to see if they look normal and to rule out serious lining issues before we try another expensive, time consuming, emotionally draining and third-party involving method of having a baby.

Like all of you, I am a very good patient. I am a doctor's dream. I am compliant; I ask good questions, but not too many; I don't pester the clinic; I understand directions readily and follow them to the letter; I avoid investing my medical team with powers they do not possess; I am polite and friendly. This buys you squat in the babymaking department. But this is the mode I find myself in right now. I'm not questioning it and not thinking about it beyond the immediate pill-taking and patch-sticking. I am apprehensive about the biopsy. I had a cervical biopsy many years ago and it hurt like hell.

A negative outcome of the endometrial biopsy is the end of road in terms of ever trying to have a baby through pregnancy. Thus, the end of the road might be near. There is also the other outcome: an inconclusive one, an outcome where we go ahead and contemplate another donor egg or donor embryo cycle, knowing all too well that the chances of success are far from favourable.

This is what led us to get on with the adoption process right away. We had a consultation with an adoption counselor in July and discussed our options. We already knew that our preference was for private domestic adoption, but the consultation confirmed it. We heard hard things during the consult: only about 80 newborns a year get placed with adoptive families in this province through domestic adoption. The average time it takes for couples to be chosen is 2 years. I would have liked to know the standard deviation, but I didn't want to appear like too much of a geek. I might have also been afraid of the answer. Mr. A with his deep well of optimism thinks that we will be chosen right away because we are so awesome. Ha! I'm not so sure about that, but it's nice that one of us is optimistic. 

I realize that efforts made towards having a baby are not in vain, but it just fucking feels like they are. Still, I worked on a farm for long enough to know that if you don't plant any seeds, you will not get any lettuce or tomatoes. So these seeds need to be planted, no matter how crummy my spirits feel these days. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Session one

He said: "This doesn't have to look like anything"

I said ok.

I cried. That's what I do in his office, ever reassured to see 2 boxes of tissues in his office upon my arrival.

I told him I am a bitter, angry woman.

I do my yoga practice (sometimes) and omit the closing prayer. I am inconsolable, uninspired, and have lost faith. I just keep getting up and doing what I have to do and going back to bed.

He said: "This doesn't have to look like anything"

He means my grief.

I am not reaching out to friends. I respond when they call on me. I'll even meet them for breakfast, but I don't have much to give. I don't initiate.

I am concerned about losing my friends. And I can't make myself do more to connect. I am remote. To them, to myself. 

I am tired, exhausted from working, and from holding it all together.

This doesn't have to look like anything.

My grief, he means.

There is no right way or wrong way to do this, he means.

There is just this moment. And the next. I wake up and do the laundry. I drink water. It's Sunday and I'm supposed to call my father. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't call. I feed Chicken, change her water. Start hand washing my cobalt top to wear at work this week. Roll out the yoga mat. Take off Dona Farhi's book off the shelf and do a backbending practice. Mr. August is at our friend's birthday brunch. She is not only having a birthday but also having a baby any minute now. Their place will be packed with happy people. I notice my mind getting busy with the problem of my absence at that party. And then I let it go. I'm not there. I'm here. In this moment. This doesn't have to look like anything. Yoga ends in savasana. I go down to change the laundry. I make coffee. I eat brunch.

In the next moment, I am lost. What comes next on a Sunday? On this Sunday? There is cleaning, walking, making supper, talking on the phone, reading The Globe and Mail. What order do they go in?  

Oh yes, I remember now. This doesn't have to look like anything. I can just make it up, jerry-rig it together with chicken wire, and call it a day, call it a grieving period. I can just do my best. My best, he says, will be good enough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

infertile shrink humour

Called my lovely therapist back today, after not seeing him since November. Maybe he'll help me find some words.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cake-eating Aries

I've always enjoyed reading real life astrology 
by Rob Brezsny. This week, Brezsny tells me this:

"ARIES (March 21-April 19): I dreamed you were 
in a cake store. Every delicious kind of cake you 
could imagine was there: carrot cake, 
strawberry cheesecake, gooey butter cake, rich 
chocolate cake with four layers of cherries 
and whipped cream,birthday cakes that must have
been baked in paradise. Sadly, there was a problem: 
You weren't allowed to buy anything, even though 
you had enough money. A big sign on the wall said, 
simply, "Absolutely no cakes available for Aries." 
What do you think my dream means? More importantly, 
what are you going to do about the 
situation? I suggest that in my next dream, you 
get a friend to buy a cake for you. Either that, 
or go to a different cake store. One way or another, 
the astrological omens say it's high time for you get 
the cake you want."
(Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter) 
I found it apt, somehow.

No cake for me. Now what?

The endometrial biopsy will happen at the beginning of September. We will at least know if we can try again for a pregnancy, whether with donor eggs or donor embryos.

We've started the adoption process. 

I can't keep standing in that store being told I can't have any cake.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Got nothing

That's what I feel like most of the time. I've got nothing to say. I realize that this conflicts with the regular updating of a blog. Accept my apologies. It is a dark, wordless land where I live.

As you can tell from the tone of my last post, I've been struggling in the wake of our miscarriage. And then Misfit Mrs. had miscarriage #7. That somehow just finished me. This game has never been about what's fair, but somehow that was just too insulting. I think if anyone had spoken a word about the effing Universe and its ways, I would have bitten their head off completely. Yes, the normally caring and good-natured Augusta has grown into an angry and bitter woman.

I get it. It's part of the package deal - and we've apparently signed up for the all-inclusive dream cruise. Infertiles have to put up with a lot of shit; hope, anxiety, crushing disappointments, grief, loss of social connections, feelings of personal failure, etc. I am getting to experience a lot of what the dream cruise has to offer at the moment.

The only time I feel ok is when I am working. At work, I play a child psychologist. I'm a pleasant, well-liked member of a clinical team, who smiles a lot and gives the impression of deep personal satisfaction. I think I might get nominated for a Genie award this year (for my International readers, this is the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars).

On weekends, I stop acting. Weekends are hard. 

One good thing that happened since I last posted is that I met Pumpkin during the Canada day long weekend. I went to visit my family in Montreal and there she was, having herself a little holiday with Mr. Pumpkin, so we decided to meet. And wow!  is she ever wonderful! You already know that from reading her blog, but I got to experience it firsthand. For both Mr. August and I, our time with the Pumpkins was the highlight of our trip. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the job search

I am applying for jobs. My current contract ends at the beginning of November, and instead of going off on mat leave as I hoped, I am scrambling to find gainful employment. I wrote cover letters today. Here is one that I won't be sending. (Warning: it is quite pathetic, but I just had to get it out of my system)

Dear future employer,
I am responding to the notice placed on your website for the job of Psychologist with XYZ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team at your Prestigious hospital. I am certain that you will find my experiences and qualification would be a great asset to the team.

I have been working my ass off at my current job, being bogged down with doing all that was necessary to finally graduate from my PhD program. My research advisor, god love him, has narcissistic personality disorder and it took a lot of my energy to deal with him in a way that would permit me to get to my defense. But I did it, all the while working this crazy ass job that is so far from where I live that I can't reside with my husband 5 days out of 7. Oh, did I also mention that while I was trying to defend and work at this job, I was also going through IVF with donor eggs. I defended during my 2ww and then found out I was pregnant. And then I started feeling very nauseous and very tired all the time. But I was happy because I was finally pregnant.

You may be curious as to why I haven't yet published my dissertation research or why I haven't completed the application for my registration with my professional college. I think the easiest answer would be to say that I am lazy. I defended at the end of March and we are now at the end of June. Sure, I had a miscarriage at the end of May and have felt broken beyond repair ever since, but I could have used all that time much more wisely than staring at the walls or feeling sorry for myself.

You will excuse my lack of enthusiasm for the job advertised. As amazing as it sounds, it hardly compares to experiencing the birth of my own child and spending the first year of my child's life caring for him or her.

My laziness and lack of enthusiasm aside, I desperately need a good job such as the one advertised on your website. My husband is a farmer and makes very little money. We are anticipating further very expensive fertility treatments and/or expensive private adoption and I need to shoulder a good deal of that financial responsibility. You should note that fertility treatments involve incessant appointments and lots of missing work at the most inopportune times. Just one more reason why you would want to have me on your team.

Finally, I am emotionally ravaged by my husband and I's failure to become parents. I am not sure I have anything left to give emotionally, but I may not need that much if all I'm going to do is manualized CBT. For anything more than that in terms of providing therapy, my emotional fragility may prevent patients from feeling a sense of hope that their lives will change with entering treatment.

My supervisors have always noted that I am an excellent team player. I also have oral and written competency in both of Canada's official languages. Perhaps these are redemptive factors in my candidacy and will convince you to offer me an interview.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss in person my specific qualifications pertaining to this role. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Augusta, Ph.D.
Yet another depressed and anxious infertile

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Did my lining kill our fetus?

I was ready to write a cheerful post on the tail of convocation last Tuesday, but our appointment with Dr. RE on Thursday has overshadowed that brief glimmer of light. I can't say it was bad news, but it wasn't good news either.

The day didn't start off too well. I woke up with a start when the alarm sounded. I was having a dream that Chicken had been run over by a car. Then as I was trying to get in the car, carrying a bunch of things in my hands, I dropped my beautiful pottery commuter mug and it smashed to bits (notice a pattern here?). I was in a great mood after that. I couldn't help thinking about the water bottle smashing on the day of extreme bad news. My mind was drawing lines and making predictions about the appointment.

Dr. RE was great as always. He came in and right away expressed his sympathy for our loss. He said that they wanted to call, but knew I was likely in shock and that it was better for me to receive care in Pleasantville rather than in FTT, so he let my family doc. handle it (but he did all my family doc to make sure I was looked after). He reviewed the prom.etrium schedule I was on during the pregnancy, to rule out that we had stopped too early. I was taking the prome.trium up until the morning of the ultrasound (12w1d), so we ruled it out as a contributing factor in the miscarriage.

After some discussion of this and that, he said that he couldn't come to a conclusion in his mind as to whether the m/c happened because of the embryo or because my lining couldn't support the pregnancy. My lining is not, as previously believed, as good as we would like. In fact, he said that my lining had never reached an optimal thickness in the last three years that I've been under his care. The embryo might have been perfectly healthy and viable, but it was my deficient lining that cased it to stop growing.


I think that in my mind, I had created what I was hoping to hear him say at the appointment, and was obscuring what I was afraid to hear. His actual assessment was somewhere in the middle. He didn't say: "Hey, that was a fluke of bad luck. Let's get back on that horse and try again next month". What he said is getting us steps closer to: "there isn't much to do with your body in terms of growing a fetus, so you should just cross that out as an option."

Dr. RE suggested that we try a more aggressive lining building strategy over the summer by having me take estr.ace orally, vaginally and through a patch (are there any other possible routes of entry for the estrogen to come in? I can bathe in it or sniff the darn thing just to be sure). He will then do two endometrial biopsies: one during the follicular phase and one during the luteal phase of the cycle. This needs to be done over two different cycles because once he's biopsied the endometrium during the follicular phase, he won't be able to get valid results for the luteal phase in the same cycle. So, hopefully, by the end of the summer, we should know more about next steps.

Dr. RE also said that Sattva's response was not as good as he had hoped, especially since non of the embryos made it to freezing.  He did say there could be modifications made to her protocol (i.e. more drugs) to see if it would produce more eggs, but he didn't say too much more about that. I tried to discuss whether he thought we should accept Sattva's offer or start the process for embryo donation, but he wanted to defer that conversation until we knew more about my lining. He acknowledged that even if my lining continues to be sub-optimally responsive, we may still chose to try egg donation (because women get and stay pregnant with less-than-ideal linings). Would I really do that though? I don't think so. That would be my cue to stop persisting down this path.

It's always been hard to believe that my body would or could do this pregnancy thing. I am losing faith that it ever will. These are dark days for me. Mr. A is keeping an open mind, and waiting to hear the results. Thankfully, he has enough optimism for two.

I leave you with a picture of my graduation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

owlet's seedling

I have been so devastated by Egghunt's news. She finally got a BFP after a FET, and found out last week that it was an ectopic pregnancy. She had to have one of her tubes removed. Please go give Egghunt a hug at Searching for our Golden Egg. It just seems so unfair.


We managed to find some time at the end of the day yesterday for our tree planting ceremony. I use ceremony loosely, as it was a very brief event attended by only 2 people and roughly 3 or 4 million unceremonious mosquitoes.

Mr. A and I went to the farmer's market in the morning, as we often do on Saturdays. I've been going there with a very heavy heart for years, and a heavier heart still since the miscarriage. There are a multitude of babies, young children, and happy new parents who stroll around at the farmer's market. This is wonderful, and we too would like to stroll around with our baby, except that we've had no luck making that happen. So we walk around with only our shopping bags instead.

I had a fat gift certificate for a spa in town and treated Sattva and I to a manicure and pedicure in the afternoon. It was nice to spend time with her. And very fitting on the day of the tree planting.

When I returned home, I knew it was time to do the tree planting. We couldn't put it off any longer. The seedling needed to be in the ground, and we needed to bring some sort of emotional punctuation mark to this sad event, even if it was only a coma. I think we both went reluctantly.

The spot we chose was, as I said in my last post, at the back of the property, where Mr. A proposed to me in May 2009. It took us about 30 minutes to walk back there, stopping to get mulch on the way. The bugs were atrocious, except when we walked across a breezy field. We didn't say much to each other on the way. I just said, "I hope we never have to do this again". We got to the back field and Mr. A chose a spot at the edge of the forest for the seedling to be planted. It didn't need a very big hole, but Mr. A dug it a bit deeper because we had mementos to put in: the pee sticks that revealed such happy news, a little card we'd received from a friend who was excited we were pregnant, a little note I wrote to owlet, and a tiny metal angel a co-worker gave me with this purpose in mind. Mr. A covered the hole and mulched it well.

Mr. A planting the hazelnut seedling

The bugs were so voracious (but not vociferous, Pumpkin), that it prevented us from lingering there too long. I thought about how that was nature's way of telling us to move on, and not stay in this deep sorrow too long. There are lives to be lived, and perhaps someday, children to be raised.

As I stepped out of the wood's edge where we planted owlet's seedling and began collecting things we had left on the ground, I heard a barred owl give a few hoots. One doesn't often hear owls during the day, but I'm pretty sure that's what I heard (although I am not discounting the possibility of auditory hallucination). While I know it's probably complete bullshit, I took comfort in believing that it was nature's welcome to owlet and a reminder to us that we are not alone in our grief.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Slow return to work

I returned to work on Monday. I wasn't too thrilled about it, but knew it had to be done. Monday was a pretty hard day overall, but I must say that my colleagues were amazing. Most people gave me space, but still managed to let me know they were glad I was back. As I suspected, the toughest moment was when I saw my clinical supervisor. He is the kindest man. He gave me a hug and I sobbed. He just knew how hard we worked for this pregnancy and how devastating this is for me. Another colleague who I had just told I was pregnant a few days before the m/c, came by my office and looked at me in askance. She gave me a hug when I told her, which is always a bit surprising when someone's role in your life has been 'colleague'. Her care was so genuine, though, and I welcomed it. At lunch time, she came by my office and asked if I wanted to go for a walk in the park. I appreciated the gesture so much.

People at work are incredible all around. Staff on the my residential unit expressed concern about my health and all said they were happy I was back. None of them pried to know what had happened. My manager continues to be incredibly supportive. I talked to her on Tuesday afternoon, and she reminded me that my job was to take care of myself right now, and that her job was to support me in doing that. This whole situation would be made so much more stressful if my boss was a jerk. Instead, I have one of the most supportive person advocating for me.

I am "working" from home today. I've put the word working in brackets because it's nearing 1 pm and I haven't actually worked. I got back to work tomorrow for 2 days and then will be home for the weekend.  I'll work again on Monday, and then it's convocation on Tuesday. Again, I am glad that my work week will be broken up. My first full 5-day week will be the week of June 20. I am thankful for the gradual return to work.

Mr. A and I are planning a tree planting ceremony to say goodbye to our owlet. Friends of ours gave us a hazelnut seedling and we will burry other little mementos with it as we plant it. We're going to plant it where Mr. A proposed to me. He farms land owned by Jesuits in North Pleasantville. Back in 2009, he planted oat seeds in one of his fields to form the letters "Will you marry me?"4-5 weeks later, he took me on a walk around his fields and asked me to look at what was growing there. It was a great proposal and the start of a great adventure together. The spot is at the back of the property. We will plant the hazelnut at the edge of the forest and hope that unlike owlet, it grows up to be tall. We're planning to do that on the weekend.

Otherwise, I am one bitter and angry woman. Hopefully, this state is temporary, but I am struggling with those ugly feelings right now. It's hard to tolerate those feelings in myself, but I am reminding myself frequently that those feelings are normal. Bitter and angry is not who I want to be. It is not where I want to spend my precious energy. But I know that trying to "control" my feelings is a moot exercise. They are what they are. All I have to do is just acknowledge them and let them be, and take care of myself in the midst of these strong feelings. On my long drive home last night, I was listening to a story on the CBC (radio station comparable to NPR for my American readers). There is this big awful story that's been in the news for a few years now about a disgraced pediatric pathologist who got dozens of people locked up for killing their children. He testified against all these poor parents, saying that their child had died of suffocation or being shaken, when in fact, most children had not died at the hands of their parents. This poor mom got her murder conviction dropped yesterday after spending 14 years in jail for the murder of her son. He died of an epileptic seizure, but this doctor said she had suffocated him and she got put away. Her other children were removed from her care and adopted into other families. I was listening to this mom talking to reporters and wondered how the injustice of it all was not crushing her completely. Her entire life was destroyed by a quack. The way she spoke though, I could tell that rage over the injustice was not consuming her. She sounded grateful that the murder charge had been dropped and looked forward to living her life out of jail, hoping that her other children would some day want to make contact with her.

It made me look at myself and my own feelings of rage over the injustice. I guess I can stay stuck in decrying the fact that it's not fair that nothing I've done so far has permitted me to have a child, or I can acknowledge that and find out what's going to help me have a child. Because I was driving when I was thinking of this, I came up with a driving metaphor. The injustice is like cars in the oncoming traffic having their high beams on. You can't look at them directly or you'll be blinded and won't see well enough to drive straight. You have to focus on something else ahead of you and let their blinding light fall into your peripheral vision, where the rods in your cornea can absorb it (they're all about contrast), while you save your cones (responsible for visual acuity) for the important work. I need to keep my anger over the injustice of what's happening fall to my peripheral vision, because I need to look out for more important things. Like, what our next steps will be. Like finding a job for when my contract ends.

Ok, that was a cheesy metaphor, but thanks for bearing with me.

Thanks for your very kind comments on my last post. I get so much from your care and kindness.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pinot noir in hand

I composed a post yesterday and then just like that, Sa.fari ate it. I was trying to delete a word and all of a sudden it deleted 6 paragraphs. After that I didn't have the humph to start over.

The week has come and gone, and I will be going back to work on Monday. I am feeling apprehensive about it, but I've made plans to work from home on one of the days next week so that I can come back and be with Mr. A. I'm not sure what I will tell people who ask what happened, what was wrong, am I better, etc. I can tell them that I am physically better. That would be true. I can tell them that I was ill. That wouldn't be entirely true. I can tell them to mind their own fucking business. That doesn't sound like me. Any good scripts you have, please send my way. As you can see, the well is dry of inspiration for a good story.

I am sitting here drinking Pinot Noir. It's nice to be able to drink wine, but I would give up wine for the rest of my entire existence if it meant I could have a child. Bargaining. That's a stage of grief, says Kubler-Ross.

I have been doing ok, I think. I cry each day, and I have moments of feeling complete desperation, but otherwise I am holding on. I focused a lot on self-care this week: long walks, reading a novel, watching the first season of Ma.d Me.n, baking and cooking, spending time with beloved friends, and spending some quality time with Mr. A. I wish I could send you all some of my pear, pecan, and dark chocolate muffins.

What's been the hardest are the nights and mornings. I wake up each night and can't fall back asleep. With my 'middle of the night irrational mind', I can't seem to hold on to the belief that we will ever be parents. In the dark hours, I am choked by the panic that I will not have children, that all this work is in vain, that nothing we can do will change this utterly shitty luck. I do fall back asleep and then have trouble getting out of bed once morning arrives. And when I do get up, I'm pretty unsteady for a few hours. By the afternoon, I can usually start looking into options for our next steps. If friends call me in the morning, the get the weepy Augusta; if they call in the afternoon, I can hold a conversation without sobs.

I had lunch with Sattva on Tuesday. I bought her lunch and she started to cry. She said it felt like she didn't deserve lunch, which is where I joined her in the crying. She deserves oceans and mountains of gratitude, and all I have for her is this puny lunch. She reminded me that we were sitting exactly where we sat a year ago having lunch and discussing the ramifications of going ahead with the egg donation. She said she didn't regret it. She said "let's try again". Sattva being Sattva, she of course wants to try again. That took the wind out of my pipes. How can she even think of going through that again? She said that looking back, it wasn't too bad and that overall, what she took from it was this sense of doing something good. She reminded me that because we've done all the preliminary steps, it wouldn't take too long to try again. Mr. August and I had always thought that we would not want her to go through the IVF procedure more than once. I must admit we are seriously taking in her offer. I think the dream of having a child with her help and seeing our families join through the egg donation is still very strong within us. We have an appointment with Dr. RE on June 16 and we will get his opinion on whether that's a good idea or not.

It's pretty daunting to think about the other options, although I have thought through them carefully and will not reject any of them at this point (except adoption through the Children's Aid Society, which is something I can talk to you about through email but won't post on here). Embryo adoption, surrogacy, or private local adoption. What is daunting is simply the money and the wait time, otherwise, I feel capable of going to the ends of the earth to get our child. I realize all the options are gambles, and guarantees are not granted in this game.

A few friends have asked me this week how come I still hold hope after what has happened. I did not have answers when they asked, but it made me think about it more. I was walking downtown earlier today and it occurred to me that the reason I still have hope is you. You women have gone through hell in the form of multiple miscarriages, umpteen IUIs and IVFs and surgeries, years of trying and failing, years of keeping hope alive somehow. I have 2 failed IUIs, a diagnosis of ovarian failure, and a miscarriage and that's all. Your hope and your tenacity has inspired me. I've decided to keep fighting this merciless IF monster. I've figured out who my heroes are, and I will work to emulate them. Thank you, dear women.

Friday, May 27, 2011

home and empty

First, I need to thank all of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers, who have reached out by leaving me a comment, or by calling, or sending me emails. I want to thank Rebecca and Jess who posted about our situation and sent many of their readers over to my blog, and who also left very supportive comments. Thank you to all old and new readers who left a comment of support. I thank Misfit, Bunny, Adele, Roccie, Pumpkin, and LisainSK who reached out by email. It was really helpful to talk with Misfit and Adele about the m/c options and help make up my mind. I thank Oat who posted an update yesterday in the comments section when blogger was being uncooperative, and for her immense support now and always. I also thank all my beloved IRL friends who read this blog and grieve with us at this time. As much as grief is trying to occupy 100% of the space in my heart, gratitude cannot help but grow in there at the same time. I am not sure how I would have gotten through the last 48 hours without all of you.

After several earlier phone calls with my doctor on Wednesday, we talked in the evening about what options were available for evacuating the pregnancy (doesn't that sound horrible). She told me that the u/s report showed that little owlet stopped growing at 9w0d. It had already been three weeks. In retrospect, I see that the decrease in nausea wasn't coincidental, but in fact a sign that things were not going as they should. She gave me the option of taking misoprostol at home for 2 consecutive days, bleeding out over the weekend, and having an u/s on Monday to see whether everything was gone. Let me say that this option never appealed to me. It sounded protracted and emotionally draining. The other option, a D&C under general anesthetic, is the one I chose. I told my doc at 9:30 am yesterday morning that it was my preferred option, and by 10:30 am, she called back to say that my surgery was at 3:30 pm that day. My doctor has had a stillbirth (and thankfully, 2 other successful pregnancies which resulted in beautiful boys), and she said that the doctor who took care of her during the stillbirth was the one who would be operating on me. She said she was lovely.

We arrived at the hospital with heavy hearts. I was looking forward to visiting that hospital in December for the birth, but instead we were going in to put an end to this pregnancy. The person who registered me at arrival was pregnant. It felt a little cruel, dear Universe, but I quickly decided it wasn't personal. I got registered and admitted quickly. The nursing staff was exceptionally kind. We were there at 1:30pm, but my surgery didn't happen until 4:15 pm. We had a visit from our doctor in that wait, who was indeed lovely. She came in and right away shared her sympathy for our grief. I guess my doc had told her our story, and I was glad for it. She felt that it was a very good sign that my body had taken on the pregnancy and that we should try again.

The procedure was quick, I think. It's good to be asleep for these things, if you ask me. I am so glad we made the decision to go with the D&C. I woke up in the recovery room, not sure if it had happened. When the nurse told me it was done, I started to sob. "I'm not pregnant anymore". But that didn't last too long. There was some physical pain to contend with, some morphine to be administered. I was finally wheeled back to the day surgery area at 6:35, where I was reunited with Mr. A. I was ready to go back earlier, but they had brought an elderly lady to the recovery who was in very rough shape. Both nurses were tending to her. I felt so bad for the elderly lady. I could hear the nurses and the doctor talk and she clearly was palliative with what sounded like lung cancer. It was another hour and a half before they let me go home. I got to drink and eat some cookies. Again, the nurse was extraordinarily kind. She was giving me hugs by the time I left. We got home a bit after 8 pm.

It feels steadying to have events to describe. Somehow, I feel like the worst is yet to come. I know how to be in survival mode. I've had a lot of practice at that. But when it's time to go back to work, and start thinking about thriving again, I fear I won't be adequate. I fear the dark grips of depression wanting to close in on me once again. How many more years of depression? How many?

For now, we are just regrouping. I had a pretty bad sleep. I was up from 3 am to 6 am. My body was confused with the lack of eating from yesterday, and was ready to eat again. So I spent those hours reading, eating a bagel, and sitting outside for 45 minutes listening to the birds in the early morning.

Today, a few of our dear friends have stopped by to offer us their love and support. It feels good to have so many loving friends around us, in real life and in cyber space.  

Thank you. I can't say it enough. Thank you, dear friends.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's over.

(oh, how I have dreaded ever having to write this post. But here we are).

Little owlet did not make it. He stopped growing at some point between our 8 week u/s and now.

I went for the u/s this morning and when I asked if there was a fetus in there, the response was "I'm not seeing what I should be seeing at 12 weeks". We then did a transvaginal u/s and no words were coming out of the technician's mouth. Only my sobs to fill the room.

Of course, technicians can't tell you anything, because they are not doctors. He said my doctor would be calling later today or tomorrow.

On my way out, I dropped my glass water bottle. It smashed into hundreds of pieces. There were 2 men from housekeeping standing 10 feet from me. They didn't acknowledge me when I walked towards them. When I asked if there was something I could do to help clean up, one of they shoved a broom in my hands and left. I picked up all the pieces and went home.

I did not return to work but went back to Pleasantville instead. Mr. A and I have just been sobbing all afternoon.

My doctor called several times. She is very kind. Even gave me her home number in one of her messages. I did get to talk to her, and she confirmed that this is a miscarriage. She needs to get the u/s report to know what the next steps will be. I guess it will go one of three ways, all of which sound horrid. The worst is yet to come.

I'm not sure how we're going to tell Sattva. We might need to wait until tomorrow. We both are train wrecks at the moment.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The cure for T1 grumps

Is coffee.

I woke up on Saturday morning, and felt like the constipation was more than I could continue to bear. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Mr. A and I went to the farmer's market, our typical Saturday morning activity, and for the first time since October, I had a cup of caffeinated coffee. Did I ever mention that I LOVE COFFEE? It tasted so bloody good, it must have been illegal. The sun was shining (it's been raining for weeks in Ontario), it was the beginning of a three-day weekend, I was wearing a red skirt with sandals, I had a coffee in hand, my honey at my side, and life was grand. I honestly couldn't remember the last time I felt this good. We sat outside with our coffees and breakfast sandwiches. It was wonderful to feel good again.

I visited Dr. Ninja later that day. I asked whether he thought the 15mgs of iron in my prenatal vitamins could be related to the intestinal misery I've been experiencing. Yes. He did think it was worth trying to replace it with a different multivitamin. He freaked me out a little bit with his concerns re: the impact of constipation on the fetus (squishes the fetus and increases toxicity in the body). But I did reason with myself that many pregnant women experience this symptom and go on to deliver healthy babies. Two days later, I am happy to report that the iron might have been the culprit, as things seem to be improving.

I am not back to drinking coffee, but that little taste certainly made me lusty.

To follow-up on my last post, it appears I will be getting an u/s much sooner than anticipated. I wasn't going to go through with the IPS (integrated prenatal screening - which includes a blood test and the NT scan) because we have already ruled out having amniocentesis. We thought that the information the test would provide us would not be of great use because of our reluctance to do the amnio. My doctor was also unsure of whether the testing norms would mean anything for someone who is pregnant as a result of egg donation. She called me back last week to say that the test was valid for those who went through egg donation. In the end, it was the u/s that got me. The chance to have an u/s soon was too alluring. Of course, my doctor said it wasn't a good reason to get the test done, but I don't care. We are about to start telling people of the pregnancy, and I would like to have it on fact that there is a living fetus in there. So I'm having the scan on Wednesday morning. Hoping all is well in there.  


Thursday, May 19, 2011

First trimester grumps

There is a theme in my life right now. That theme is that am behind on everything. Even my blog postings. I apologize for the e-silence, ladies. I am just tired and a bit, well, behind in everything.

Luckily, or hopefully I should say, I am not behind on growing a fetus. But I have to take that one on faith because I don't know what is going on in there. Augusta was all happy to graduate from the fertility clinic at week 8. Yet at week 11, she is wishing like hell she could drop by for a quick ultrasound. My next visit to my family doctor, where I will theoretically be able to hear this owlet's heartbeat, is on June 17.  This is about 100 years in first trimester time. Wish me patience.

My nausea has abated a bit. Quite a bit, actually (alarm bells ringing). I still feel queasy and disgusted by the sight of some foods (volume of alarm bells turns down). The exhaustion continues, and I continue to fight through my days at work, hoping I am not coming across as entirely incompetent because truly, it feels like the lights are on but nobody's home.

My mood has been low lately. I realize that I am allowed to feel however the hell I feel, but it's hard to accept feeling low when I've been hoping, dreaming, begging every god and goddess to be pregnant for years. And now it's here....and I'm cranky. How to resolve the dissonance? I'm hoping a crossing of the line into T2 will help in that department.

I realize there are factors at play in my low mood. The first trimester really does suck the living daylights out of a woman's energy. And my great job is still great, except that to do it well, I would require the energy I had when I was 26, or at least when I was 36 and not yet pregnant. I am seriously dragging my ass at work, and I don't like that. The way I used to resolve the overload of work was to put in serious overtime all week. I'd just put in 10 or 11 hour days regularly and managed not to get too far behind. Now I don't have the stamina to do all this (unpaid) overtime, so I am falling further and further behind.  I have so many darn reports to write that I can't even come up with a plan of how to get them done. In the mean time, these kids schools, and parents, and community agencies are waiting for my pronouncements (in paper format) on these children's mental health.

I have also been missing Mr. A and Chicken a whole lot. And missing being home. This week, I decided to drive back home on Wednesday night so the week wouldn't seem so interminable. That helped a little in the missing home part, but not so much in the fatigue department. Chicken is not too keen on letting me sleep, since really, I could be petting her instead. A complete cuddle monster.

I think that's all the complaining I have in me for the moment. Thanks for reading and not throwing rotten tomatoes (well maybe you are, but that is going to be nasty to clean off of the keyboard). In the happier news department, I've booked a few fun weekends in July to get away. We are going to Montreal, where I'm from, on the Canada day long weekend and spending time up north at my mom's country house. I also look forward to visiting my dad during that trip. I haven't seen him in a year (which is terrible). We are heading back to Niagara-on-the-lake, this time, with some good friends of ours who will be a month away from welcoming their first child. I'm really looking forward to that.

And in the good news department, I just spoke to my beloved friend Dragonfly (also known as A) live from her hospital room. She was due to have a baby girl on May 31, but she delivered early this morning. I am so excited for her and her husband. I will have to go visit this beautiful girl as soon as possible (and sadly, the 10 hour drive makes that trip tricky to arrange (see the part about my stressful job above). I am hoping to head there in early September, before I get too big. I can also visit Oat when I go, which will be marvelous.

Those are my thoughts for now, lovelies. I am terribly behind on my commenting (see first paragraph) and I hope to make some retroactive progress over this weekend. It's a long weekend in Canada. YEAH!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 weeks

I reached the double digits today. My first thought as my feet touched the ground off the bed this morning was: made it to 10 weeks! I went for a celebratory walk with the chirping birds and there was a spring in my step. The spring doesn't ever make it past 9:30am, but still, it was nice to feel energetic for 3 hours this morning.

Today is also the day that I reduce my intake of prom.etrium from 200mg three times per day to 200mg twice per day. I admit to being a little nervous about the decrease and hoping the little owlet is ok in there with less progesterone.

I went to the grocery store today. The theme was green: green grapes, spinach tortilla wraps and green peas. Don't ask. I saw a pregnant woman at the grocery store. The old habit is to look away, but I let my eyes linger today. I looked at her and thought "that will be me".

My fatigue continues and despite the extra B vitamins Dr. Ninja prescribed, I am dragging myself around all day. I can't say my work schedule does much to make me feel less tired. I was able to find 15 minutes to gobble up some soup at lunch, but it's been nuts.

Off to rest, my lovelies. So excited that Bunny's baby is here. Welcome to the world, sweet girl. Also excited about Lisa and Cassie who recently had baby boys. Happy Spring! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

first prenatal appointment

I had my first prenatal appointment with my family physician today. I had not seen my family physician since last summer, when I cried on her exam table after she asked how the fertility treatments were going. My demeanor at today's appointment was different. She was very excited for Mr. A and I and visibly disappointed to have to refer me to an OB in FTT (fertility treatment town - where I will be working until November). It's nice to be loved! She spent quite a bit of time with me doing a physical and talking about the screening tests and the next steps. She said that normally, she follows pregnant women until week 24 and then refers to an OB. When I told her that Dr. RE suggested an OB was probably best sooner than later, she got on it right away. I still have an appointment to see her in 1 month, but if the OB's office calls before that, I will just cancel my appointment with her and start with the OB. I somehow don't think I'll get to see an OB within the next month (this is Canada folks: free health care = awesome, and free health care = waiting). 

My doctor had a doppler but said right off the bat that it wasn't very sensitive. She usually only hears heartbeats of 11 week old fetuses and up. She heard one of 10 weeks recently (I'm at 9w2d), so she was willing to try, but at the condition that I wouldn't get anxious if we didn't hear anything. She poked around for a long time, but alas, it couldn't be detected. Yes, I could get anxious about that if I let myself, but that would be ridiculous (please also remind me of this in your comments). The instrument isn't sensitive enough to pick up the heartbeat of such a young fetus.

I found it interesting that they made me pee in a bottle today. Oh look, there is hcg in my urine! I guess they were being thorough. The nurse took my blood pressure (a-ok) and weighed me. I weighed a pound more than the last time I weighed myself (2 weeks ago) and pretty much the same as pre-transfer. I think the extra pound was all constipation. That is the new symptom this week, along with heartburn. Poor digestive tract. It's really struggling.

It was great to walk out of the doctor's office. I was back in Pleasantville, which is where I like to be. The sun was shining, something we haven't really seen in weeks. And I had just spent an hour talking my pregnancy. What. my. pregnancy. Yes. I had been thinking of Bunny all day, since this is the day that Bun Bun is coming to the light of day, and I suddenly felt my heart fill with substantial hope. This happens. People have fertility treatments and get pregnant and have babies. This really happens. Maybe it's even happening to me.