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.