Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Post U/S Euphoria

I had my second pregnancy u/s today at 8w1d. Flicker has grown. The heartbeat was 165 bpm, which to me automatically means girl. Matt couldn't come with me, so after the u/s I called and told him it was twins. "ARE YOU KIDDIN ME?" Yep, I'm pulling your leg. Then I laughed like I haven't laughed in forever. Next time he'll come with me for the u/s.

I have been preparing myself for bad news in this ultrasound. Sunday I had spotting. No cramps, no red blood, but spotting. It's not as scary as before, but still scary and nothing I wanted to see. I also have no symptoms. My breasts and nipples are fine, not sore at all. I have no morning sickness, although once in a great while I will feel a little flu-like. I don't feel any different than before, except for this post-scan euphoria. I feel so happy. I feel like renting a blimp and having it broadcast that I'm pregnant. I guess eventually I will be that blimp, so I'd best just be patient.

Tonight is the first night of my biotech class. On Saturday I had my first Negotiations class. In it we had to do two different negotiations. In the first one, the teacher gave us a chocolate gold coin and told us to negotiate over who gets it, and it cannot be split. Some tried pleas of emotion, of being attached to the coin or being very hungry. Others tried deals where one person gets it now and has to repay the other two gold coins in the future. One group decided to donate it so neither of them got it. As for me, at first I took the coin and told my partner that I had possession so it was mine as he couldn't physically take it away from me. This isn't really a good form of negotiating though, so I put it back. He tried a couple of different tactics, basically trying to tell me that the coin was meant for him. I then told him that our interests were even and we should therefore try a more fair approach in which we would both have equal opportunity and willingness to accept the outcome. In other words, we flipped a coin. I lost, but I ended up with kudos from the teacher for thinking creatively. Well, when you're an analyst for a living, you're just dying for an opportunity to use your creative side.

Today is my big presentation, but I'm not in Arizona. I cancelled my flight on Sunday because of the spotting. I also told my boss that I may wait a few weeks before flying back. I just need some time to get past this more dangerous part. She is very caring and was completely fine with it. She's always been like this. Is it no wonder I continued to want to work with her even after I moved a state away?

Update -
I forgot to tell you about the sick game Valerie and I played last night. It's called "What is Worse". She knows this game as her first baby was still born, second healthy, and third has down syndrome with heart defect. We go through worst case scenarios we've experienced or we fear. It goes something like this...
"What is worse...
"...never able to get pregnant, or easily able to get pregnant but having to give birth to a dead baby."
"...going through IVF and getting a negative, or getting a positive to lose it 8 weeks later?" - please note, this was last night, after my spotting on Sunday, she thought it would be worse to get a negative because then you wouldn't know if you even could get pregnant, I wasn't so sure since a miscarriage would be a special kind of hell
"...having a down syndrome daughter die at 4 months during heart surgery or having your second still birth?"
and so on.

Then we start getting silly...
"...having your mother move far away or your father move very close?"
"...having your husband move far away to work or having your mother in law move in?"
"...having your son want to be a macho meathead just like his grandpa or go through sex change surgery to be just like his grandma?"
"...having 5 daughters or having 5 sons?"

Why do we play this game? We get our fears and painful moments on the table, plus make up funny ones that aren't really fears just teasing. I couldn't play this game with anyone else. It would get serious and hurt feelings. With her, she respects my grief, I respect hers. We do it to talk about the bad things without it being a sad conversation, not really comparing our pains. Actually, if we compared pains, I would say hers is worse from the loss of her first child. The hard part is that these things, especially the baby and fertility ones, are real things. They actually happened to her or I or someone else. We are weighing our pain just as so many others have talked about. Truth is, you tend to believe that your own pain or very real possibilities are the worst. It is so much closer to real than something that didn't happen or probably will not happen.

As for her and I, I'm hoping that soon we will run out of bad case scenarios to compare. I think we've had our share.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mr. Pazel

I learned that the correct term is threatened miscarriage, not missed miscarriage. I have smart women reading this who helped me out. I even read my discharge papers and there it was.

As to all who commented to me yesterday, in my best Sally Field's impression and with as much heart I want to say, "You get me. You really get me." Thank you.

Today I found my week-to-week pregnancy book on the dining room table. I was going to put it away, but then remembered how it got there. When I was in the emergency room, Matt called and read to me from it. On his own accord, he had picked up the book and referenced bleeding during pregnancy so he could read to me how it was common and the baby could be fine. (Who knew he could read something on pregnancy?) At the time I didn't believe him since I felt the baby must be doomed, but was impressed that he did that for me. He had generally been not as concerned during the day, but that evening, with a quiet house and time on his hands, he picked up the book and read a little. He said he was reading the section on miscarriage when he called and asked me if I was having cramps too. He said he started getting really concerned when I said yes. See, those pregnancy books can even turn normal people into worry freaks.

Should he have been concerned starting first thing that morning? On some level he was. Generally though, he believes it will all work out. That everything will be okay. We went through all these cycles together, yet he always believed that each one would be IT. I never did. I never believed it and still struggle with this.

Exhibit A - last night:

M -- I don't think you should get your tubes tied after birth.
P ~ Why not? Are you getting a vasectomy? How very generous.
M -- Nooo, it's just that I think we could try for a few months on our own.
P ~ What?
M -- Why not? We could have one for free. And if we don't, what did we lose?
P ~ (my sanity, my emotional calmness, the ability to forget about my cycles and give up the fantasy of a miracle baby, but fine, I'll play) And what happens if it works? We'll have 3? Are you serious?
M -- If it happens...
P ~ (does he never give up?)

P ~ When I called about the bleeding, they asked if we had "intercourse." I laughed outloud.
M -- No kidding.
P ~ It's been what, 2 months? Or does it just feel like that?
M -- What if they don't give us the green light because of the bleeding?
P ~ What do you mean?
M -- What if they say no sex for the whole pregnancy?
P ~ I was on pelvic rest from 28 weeks onward during the last pregnancy.
M -- That would be 9 months this time, plus the time after the birth... That's a year of no sex!
P ~ A year of no sex.
M -- This is serious. Don't laugh.

I guess we all have our limits.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Baby's Okay

I'm an emotional mess, but the baby is fine.

I spent most of yesterday and last night in the emergency room. OB triage told me to go there since I'm still so early. I had tried calling my old RE's office, but when they did return my call it was to tell me that since I didn't go through treatment with them, I should see my OB/GYN or whomever I received treatment from. That was really helpful advice considering both were a state away.

The emergency room is a horrible place, with hurt people, not-hurt-but-whining people, and general chaos. Nothing is done there without a huge wait. I had blood work, an IV, a catheter (awful), and finally the ultrasound. The catheter was because she first filled my bladder for abdominal, then emptied it for the vaginal. The ultrasound tech explained that she couldn't show me the screen, couldn't tell me anything, and couldn't give me any pictures. During the whole thing I was crying because I was so emotionally spent and because I was extremely sore. I've never had a more painful ultrasound. I had been cramping very hard for most of the day. At the end, the tech felt sorry for me and showed me the screen. There was Flicker, still flickering. I only saw for a second, but that's all I needed.

The doctor at the emergency room was so kind. He said his wife just paid the deposit for their IVF, and he was going tomorrow to give a sample to be frozen (because of his uncertain schedule). He really cared, and hugged me when he gave me the news that things looked okay. Although the u/s tech had already shown me the heartbeat, it didn't matter. I cried all over again. It was the end of a very emotional day.

Actually, crying was pretty much what I did all day yesterday. I was so frightened and hurting.

I flew back this morning, and it feels so good to be home. My house, close to my doctors, still pregnant. I just want to sleep all day, but I can't.

My diagnosis was a missed miscarriage. I don't know what an actual miscarriage is like. I've never had one. But having an almost one, is very scary. I imagine the difference between missed miscarriage and actual miscarriage is similar to the difference between infertility and pregnant after infertility. The baby is there or is not. There is hope flickering, or it is out of reach. But, the experience of almost, or of process, is still difficult and not something I will forget. I can't imagine how I will relax now, when I feel like I dodged a bullet but may not be so lucky next time.

To all of you, thank you thank you thank you for caring about me. I'm okay. I've got some cleaning up to do to get my emotional house back in order, but at least it wasn't the worst case scenario. I just can't imagine what's behind that door. Sorry for all the drama. Believe me, I would have rather skipped it myself.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blood

I'm not sure what to do. I'm not really thinking clearly.

I'm currently out of state for work. When I left work yesterday, I left my progesterone supp in my office. I didn't realize it until 10 last night. Since the office is a good hour away, I thought that I would be okay and take it in morning. I woke up this morning to red blood.

I showered and dressed, and raced out of the house with wet hair. I got into my office and put in two, but I'm scared to death. I called the fellow on call at the RE's office. He told me that some bleeding can be normal and told me to come in today. Of course I can't because I'm out of town. He said to call when I'm back in town so I can come in for an ultrasound. He also said I might want to delay my flight tonight until I knew I was better.

So right now I'm in my office. I was laying on the floor, but now I'm sitting up to type this. I don't know what to do. It's 6:33am. My old RE's office is accross the street. I could wait until they open, then call and see if they can get me in for an ultrasound. It's been 4 1/2 years since I left their office, I'm not sure it will be that easy.

The fellow said that I wouldn't need to go to the emergency room unless I soak a pad. I work in the hospital, and it's so tempting to go walk down to OB Triage or the Emergency room, but I know that the bleeding is not serious enough for that.

I think I'm going to go back to my friend's house and spend the day laying down. I can't work. I have so much I need to do today, but I don't care. I'm just so scared.

If I delay my flight tonight, I will have to wait longer to get an ultrasound.

I'm trying to think of what I should do and I'm stuck. I'm not bad enough for the emergency room, yet I feel too scared to just be hanging out. I'm just not thinking clearly.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Bigger Clothes

I went shopping this weekend, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't buy maternity clothes. I don't need them yet, but know that I will. I gave away all my maternity clothes years ago, so I don't have any. Some pants in my closet are getting tight, especially in the evening. My bras are starting to cut in on me with my larger size breasts. I can't imagine this is all baby. I'm sure it has to do with the relaxing of my uterus since this is a second, and relaxing of my diet. I have periods of being extremely hungry, and periods of being bad. Most of the time I try to stay on course but it's not that easy.

About a year or two ago I resolved to reinvent myself. I knew it would be slow change. First I applied to, got accepted, then started grad school. I got a new haircut and bought new clothes. I joined Weight Watchers and lost 20 lbs. I also went back to the RE's office and started treatment again. I've defined success in many different ways besides just physical, but I did work on improving the physical to give me more confidence and make the outer me look more like the inner me.

During the IVF process, I gained back 10 lbs of my lost 20. I didn't care about my diet. I couldn't handle counting points while praying for a miracle and fearing the worst. To call it stressful would be an understatement. Besides finding comfort in food, I gave up most of my physical activity. It was the opposite of all I had done for my health, yet I respect my boundaries and don't beat myself up about it (too much).

So I've got some clothes left over from 20 lbs ago that I can wear in these early months. Yesterday I went out and bought a few more in my old sizes, especially low rise pants hoping I can belly over them for a few months and make them last. I couldn't buy maternity clothes or even go into that department. I don't feel or look pregnant enough to belong. I'm afraid I'll be chased out of there, "Fraud, fraud! You're not really pregnant! We know who you really are. You're infertile!"

Tomorrow I'm flying back to Arizona for work. My friend Vanessa says she'll be unloading a bunch of maternity clothes on me. I'll bring them back, but I'll hide them in my closet, just in case. I don't want to play dress-up. I don't want to tempt fate. While I am secure in myself and my pregnancy today, I assume nothing about tomorrow.

And have I told you that I've named the baby Flicker? After the heartbeat on the ultrasound.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Pirate jokes anyone?

I'm drowning in work. I've got so much, that my weekend will be shot. Unfortunately, the girls night card game I was planning to go to tonight has been cancelled, which was to be an evening for me in the City without hubby or child. I'll survive. I'll probably spend the evening working instead.

One of the things I'm working on is a large annual presentation I coordinate for all the directors, managers, supervisors, etc in our hospital to kick-off the annual budget. Sounds exciting doesn't it? Every year, in addition to all the dry material, I try to put in something funny, if only mildly so to make the presentation more tolerable.

This year, I've got a guest speaker lined up, most of the slides for my boss, COO, and myself completed, but I'm still working on my video clip. This year it is supposed to be in silent movie black and white type. It's about our hospital as a ship. The theme is that our budget is our navigation tool towards getting to our destination, treasure in the form of new equipment, new technologies, etc. The special effects are ridiculously low key, complete with toy boat, clouds on strings, and bathtub sharks. I also have some various crew to defend the ship, and three-stooges pirates who try to take us over. I have a picture of our CEO superimposed on Russel Crowe's body in Master & Commander. I show the picture getting splashed by water during the storm scene, and a little burnt around the edges after the battle with pirates, yet he's still smiling. It's all very goofy, but as this is my 6th year of doing this, the directors expect no less.

The hard part is to divide up my time between getting everything in the system ready for kick-off, get the book ready that we hand out, and getting the serious part of the presentation ready at the same time I'm directing some toy sharks circling a toy boat or reviewing the editing done on the pirate scene. Some parts are more fun than others, but it's all important. The presentation is a week from Tuesday, so time is short until then. In the meantime, I'm trying to think of some good pirate or sailing jokes I could tell the group. Know of any?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bountiful Fruit Trees

I woke up this morning beating myself up for the condition of the house and yard. I used to have someone to come and clean, but she told me so much about her personal problems that I couldn't take it and stopped hiring her. As for the gardner, he tried to maul me in my backyard next to my daughter's play house and tricycle. He explained that since his wife is dying of cancer, they don't have sex anymore, as if I would say "Okay then, come on in." I let my husband fire him so he knew not to try to come around again.

Since then, I've been a little gun shy about getting help. Every morning I wake up and resolve to call someone new, but by the afternoon I'm anxious about letting someone in my home or yard again, put it off, and work on cleaning instead of working like I should.

When we bought our home, the previous owner for two years didn't care for the home. The weeds were waist high. We've since cleaned up, but there's still much to be done.

This morning my doorbell rings, which is very unusual around this house. I'm not one for surprise visitors.

--I'm sorry to bother you. I used to live here. We lived here 20 years. I was wondering if I could visit my fruit trees.
-Of course. Sure.
--We moved to Oregon and we can't grow citrus there. We miss these trees very much. I notice that one orange tree is gone.
-Yes, it died last winter. We put in this rock path and the gardener trimmed it back too much.
--(picking a fruit blossom and sniffing it) If you trim back these rose bushes, they will bloom even more. And you can take out these small ones for the others to have more space. My husband planted me 50 more rose bushes at our new home. Do you love roses?
-Yes, but I'm not a great caretaker. I just deadheaded last week and already I'm behind. (There are about 30 bushes in the front, a few more on the side, and a handful in the back. Who has time for this?)
--Mmmm, you're doing fine. Don't be afraid to cut back things or take them out. Can I see inside the house?
-No, I'm sorry. My dog is in there and she doesn't like visitors. (Plus it's not in condition enough for visitors.) Would you like to see the backyard?
--Yes please.

I took her to the back and gave her several bags to collect fruit.
--Oh, the fig tree! We planted this after we first moved in. My husband misses it so. Do you love figs?
-No, but my mother does. We did trim the tree back as it was taking over the yard.
--It looks very good. Oh how I missed the figs. (Looking over at our dry yard where her rows of vegtable garden used to be.)
-Um yeah. We want to put in grass for our daughter, but we're going to be replacing the retaining wall, so we want to wait until that's done. Otherwise it will get wrecked by the workers.
--That's a very good idea.
-When we cleaned this out of the weeds from the last owner, I found strawberry plants underneath.
--They were imported strawberry plants, from far away, not from California.
-Every year a variety of artichokes grow back and give us more than we could ever eat. We don't give them any love, and they come back anyways.
--(Laughs) My sons planted those artichokes. It's all still so fertile back here. Can I have some lemons too?
-Sure. We have more than we can ever use. We make lemonade and use them in cooking, but both trees are always blooming.
--And do you love the apples?
-Yes. My daughter loves to eat the apples, and I've made apple pie with them (once).
--We used to have huge parties back here with hundreds of people from our church. My husband is 81 and he planted all these trees here because he wanted to live out his life here. I made him move to be near the kids. He will be so happy when I bring him back these fruits. Thank you so much.

We talked for awhile longer. She asked about my daughter and hoped that I would be blessed with a son soon. (I did not tell her I was pregnant!) I told her that the trees are still happy because they remember her love. I told her that I could feel her spirit in the house, and that it always felt happy. She asked of my origin, and I wanted to say Californian but I knew that's not what she meant. I told her Irish/German and she laughed and said she knew it. She said that she's Christian Palestinian which she said means that the Muslim Palestinians don't like her and the Israelis don't like her, so they moved here. All her 4 children and 16 grandchildren were born in America and she'll never leave. As she left, I told her she was welcome back anytime (and hoped to have my house clean by then so I could take her inside.)

I think I'll call someone today to help me get this place back in order. Afterall, we're not the only ones who love it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Heartbeat

We had our first pg ultrasound this morning and all is good. Janie woke up with what we think is a spider bite on her finger, so we kept her home from school and brought her with. We kept her outside the office until my name was called.

There on the screen was a tiny flickering heartbeat in a giant black space. Matt got his face in to see it up close, almost touching the screen with his nose. It was amazing. I was so worried going in there, but I tried to remain upbeat. After getting the good news, you couldn't get the smile off my face.

Matt then said we were free to announce it to everyone and I asked about Janie. Our plan was to tell her later because she wouldn't understand the long wait. But, my concern was that if we told everyone else, she could hear it from someone other than us and I didn't want that to happen. So, in the ultrasound room, Matt held her on his lap and told her that we had something very special to tell her. I told her that inside of me there is a teeny tiny baby. It's not coming out for a long time because it needs to grow, but one day it will be your little brother or sister. First she asked what the baby's name is. Then she asked if it was a boy or a girl.

Maybe telling her is a mistake, maybe it's pressing our luck. I just have to live in the positive, and get away from the fear. Be brave. I've been so scared and sad and depressed for so long, I want to enjoy this. If it all falls apart tomorrow, I will deal with that then. In the meantime, I have no reason not to be happy, so I might as well be.

As for my dog, on Monday the vet diagnosed her with a bladder infection and gave her a shot of antibiotics and some antibiotic pills. Yesterday the lab called and said that they found significant amounts of blood and protein in her urine, as well as some crystals. It could mean kidney stones. If she doesn't get better from the antibiotics, there will be more tests. In the meantime, we're giving her extra love and lots of hot dogs. After Janie's pediatrician visit today, she'll probably get antibiotics too. I think only Matt and the cats have avoided the doctor's office this week, but today is only Wednesday, so there's plenty more time.

Heartbeat

We had our first pg ultrasound this morning and all is good. Janie woke up with what we think is a spider bite on her finger, so we kept her home from school and brought her with. We kept her outside the office until my name was called.

There on the screen was a tiny flickering heartbeat in a giant black space. Matt got his face in to see it up close, almost touching the screen with his nose. It was amazing. I was so worried going in there, but I tried to remain upbeat. After getting the good news, you couldn't get the smile off my face.

Matt then said we were free to announce it to everyone and I asked about Janie. Our plan was to tell her later because she wouldn't understand the long wait. But, my concern was that if we told everyone else, she could hear it from someone other than us and I didn't want that to happen. So, in the ultrasound room, Matt held her on his lap and told her that we had something very special to tell her. I told her that inside of me there is a teeny tiny baby. It's not coming out for a long time because it needs to grow, but one day it will be your little brother or sister. First she asked what the baby's name is. Then she asked if it was a boy or a girl.

Maybe telling her is a mistake, maybe it's pressing our luck. I just have to live in the positive, and get away from the fear. Be brave. I've been so scared and sad and depressed for so long, I want to enjoy this. If it all falls apart tomorrow, I will deal with that then. In the meantime, I have no reason not to be happy, so I might as well be.

As for my dog, on Monday the vet diagnosed her with a bladder infection and gave her a shot of antibiotics and some antibiotic pills. Yesterday the lab called and said that they found significant amounts of blood and protein in her urine, as well as some crystals. It could mean kidney stones. If she doesn't get better from the antibiotics, there will be more tests. In the meantime, we're giving her extra love and lots of hot dogs. After Janie's pediatrician visit today, she'll probably get antibiotics too. I think only Matt and the cats have avoided the doctor's office this week, but today is only Wednesday, so there's plenty more time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Been There

I love GettupGrrl at Chez Miscarriage. I don't know how to do links so I can't do that for you, but she's first on my list of infertile women to the left. Hers is the only one that isn't alphabetical because it is her blog that inspired me to start writing. She writes with such humor and grace on the most painful subjects. While I am bitter, she is still loving, and yet I have a child and she doesn't.

She wrote today on Secondary Infertility, a subject dear to my heart. She understands. She's never been there, has every right to dismiss my hurts and complaints, yet she doesn't. She sends me a honking shout out, and it makes me cry. How can she care so much for my secondary pain, when hers is still so acute? Primary infertility is the worst. The worst. I only know because that's where I started and lived for a few years. You never forget what that's like. I hope every woman with primary infertility can end up with a problem like secondary infertility because it would mean that they did have a child. They would love that problem, and I would love for them to have it.

Unfortunately, when you're going through primary infertility, there's no way you could know that one day you'll be going through it as secondary infertility. If you knew that, then primary infertility wouldn't hurt so bad. It's that fear. I remember.

Yet secondary infertility is not all happiness. I am in a middle land where there is no understanding. I don't want to hurt the primary infertiles, and they don't want to be near me for their own protection as well. While I understand their pain from being there, they don't know that I do. They see my child and assume that I couldn't possibly know. I want to tell them that I care, but I don't want to hurt them with some stupid comment.

Meanwhile the fertiles try to indoctrinate me into their club, but I just don't belong. They worry about birth control, perfect space between children, and getting a good mix of sexes. None of that stuff has meaning to me. I had to quit the Mommy group when they all started getting pregnant again. I still get their Christmas cards with pictures of their children, oldest the same as my daughter and one or two younger ones. It has been almost 4 years since she was born. Their lives have continued. I couldn't empty out the "bottle cabinet" until this weekend. I was afraid that storing the baby bottles elsewhere meant giving up. I feel like I've been standing still this whole time, like a record skipping each month.

I have great sympathy for those going through primary infertility, and do not expect anything back. If I did, then I couldn't really remember what it was like, could I? I don't expect them to understand my pain because I know theirs is worse and all encompassing. I know their fears because I've had them. I know that they would trade problems with me in a second. I also know that it takes an extraordinary woman going through primary infertility to care about someone like me. Everytime I read a comment from a primary infertile on my blog, I am sort of embarrassed that they can care for my little problems when faced with their own. Do they think I'm a whiner? Do they think I'm ungrateful?

Of course I am. I am and I'm not. That's what secondary infertility is all about.

To those primary infertiles out there, I honk back.

BEEEEEEP

Monday, August 16, 2004

Same Old Argument

My dog is sick. I have an appointment for her this afternoon. I found out that the sample my husband collected from her last night is no good because we didn't keep it in the refrigerator. Any wonder why? So this morning I found myself following her around in the yard while holding an empty pickle jar under her behind. Every time she tried to pee, she'd see what I was doing, and try to walk away from me to where it would be a little more private. She'd start to squat, but there I would be again. Eventually, I had to pretend like I wasn't watching, then quickly put the pickle jar under the stream. I knew she wouldn't be able to stop midway. That would take some extraordinary kegel muscles for a dog. Sure enough, her sample has blood clots in it. Now the jar is triple bagged and sitting in my frigerator. I hope I got all the pickle juice remains washed out. They could diagnose her with a kosher UTI.

I've been thinking about the post at Grrl's spot. I missed all the comments espousing how one should or should not complain about pregnancy or pregnancy symptoms. Of course I must give my opinion. If I don't it will just bury itself inside me and spurt out my mouth to the unsuspecting vet this afternoon.

I'm not a particular fan of pregnant women or women who have been pregnant. Sure, there are a few I can tolerate. I was even pregnant once. But, the pain of infertility and fear of never having a child is not something you just forget as soon as you have a second line. It burns into your soul, leaving painful scars that never heal. Actually, they get aggravated every time another unwanted child is born, or a pregnant woman tells me she's tired of being pregnant, or a woman who's had a child complains that being pregnant is not that important.

My own pregnany seemed to fly by. Sure, I was anemic during the whole thing that made me very very tired, but I didn't care. I was simply surprised every day that I woke up and was still pregnant. I couldn't believe for a minute that everything was going to be okay and that I would actually get a child out of it. How could that be? Did the stork get the wrong address and misdirect his package? I was constantly grateful and constantly worried. I knew there were those who had gone through more than my 3 IUIs that I did for my first, and still weren't pregnant. I felt guilt for them, although guilt did nothing since I don't believe in pregnancy dust (having been dusted so many times over so many years without any resulting pregnancy, just constant need for Pledge.) I kept feeling that they could be me or I could be them.

During the 6th month, I almost lost her and it seemed to confirm all my fears. But, everytime she moved or she kicked, or I dressed myself in maternity clothes, I stopped, rubbed my stomach and smiled. Although my pregnancy wasn't "perfect", I knew the alternative was not to be pregnant so I was willing to take whatever it wanted to dish out. I had made that agreement, that I wouldn't complain and never ask for more if only I could have this one thing. A baby. (Also, I did renege and ask for more by trying for a second. I didn't so much lie as love every minute of it that I became addicted to that joy.)

The birth was horrendous. It was the only time that I didn't care anymore. I tried to figure out how I could gather my strength to get out of bed, pick up the chair, throw it through the window so I could jump out. I would have if only the contractions would have relented for a second. I forgot about the baby. It was only about the pain. Later that night, she was born by c-section (see, they could have given me the epidural all along!). I saw her little pissed off face for the first time and I smiled again. I did not forget the pain, nor could I ever. I was just glad it was behind me and I could get back to the heart of the matter.

Was she worth it? Sure, but if I had to go through that birth again I would never have tried to get pregnant again. It's easier for me to say because I had my baby. My reassurance to try again has been that next time I could go straight to c-section.

Does it concern me that I will never have a baby the "real" way or the natural way? No. Heck no! I'm choosing c-section not a VBAC so that I can avoid that horrible pain. You can keep it! Besides, if I had such a desire to have a "natural" baby, I guess I wouldn't have any babies since I need drugs and procedures to conceive. Do I wish I had regular labors with quick epidurals? Sure, why not but I would much rather have the regular conceptions.

It brings back that whole discussion of primary versus secondary infertility. Obviously primary is much, much worse. No argument there. I've been there. I remember. I do. If I couldn't conceive the second time, the alternative was just to keep what I have and spoil her even worse. If I couldn't conceive the first time... I didn't know what was next. Adoption? I don't know. It was a dark. Very, very dark. A fear with no name. It was real, and I narrowly escaped.

So here I am with my two lines. I will probably complain, but my complaints are footnotes to my overwhelming feeling that I narrowly passed again. I am grateful. How many times have I said that word since I peed hot? Not enough. Never enough. I know. When I wasn't pregnant, I knew that pregnant women weren't grateful enough. I knew it from their comments to me on their statements that pregnancy was something to avoid, their inability to give up smoking, their complaints on regular pregnancy symptoms, and just the damn smirk on their face as they walk down the street in their new Pea in the Pod outfit rubbing their bellies and planning their nurseries.

Okay, maybe that last part is still some of my residual bitterness bubbling up. It never goes away you know. I will always assume that every other pregnant woman got there for free, on her own or on accident, in one or two tries, with a beautiful surprise story for how they told their partner. It had nothing to do with dildo-cams or swollen ovaries or injections or handing over their life savings for a lottery ticket. Even my best friend said that if I won, I wouldn't get a million dollars, just be pregnant. Yep, just be pregnant. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Medical Office Woes

It's not just RE offices that I hate.

In late November, at my annual visit with my OB/GYN, my OB found a lump on my left breast. I had a mammogram and ultrasound the next day. The lump on my left didn't show on the mammogram, although it was identified by ultrasound and able to be felt (palpable). The mammogram did show a lump on my right that cannot be felt, but is most likely a lymph node that is out of place. The recommendation for the right was a repeat mammogram in 6 months to make sure it is a lymph node, not growing or changing.

For the left, the lump could not be removed by FNA (fine needle aspiration), and considering that I was wanting to go through fertility treatments and get pregnant, we decided to remove it. I had a lumpectomy on the left in January. All was good.

In July, I received a note from the hospital reminding me to come in for the repeat mammogram for the right. I called my surgeon's office because I needed a physician's note. The nurse told me that they would be sending me a note for a mammogram in August, so to wait until then so that it would longer time from surgery and have both done. I explained that hopefully I would be pregnant then. She said that if I was, they could properly shield me. She then said, "I thought you told us in January that you were going to trying then." Yes, we did, we've had 3 failed IUIs since then, we're now going on to IVF and I'm currently on birth control pills to surpress me. But thanks for the reminder.

So today I got a note in the mail from the surgeon's office to come in for my follow-up visit. I called and set it up, but noted there was no physician's note for the mammogram. Wouldn't they want me to have that before the visit? This nurse (different than before) looked at my file and said that it says that I'm to have my next one in December. I go through all the stuff on the difference between the issue with my right versus my left and how the right still needed a 6 month follow-up. She didn't get it. She told me she'd talk to the surgeon and get back to me on whether or not I do. I told her that if she didn't think I did, despite what the radiologist's report said on the right, I would go back to my OB and have her write the order.

Do I love this surgeon? Yes, she is very kind and wonderful. Is her office staff clueless? Most definately. Why oh why do they hire these people? They give them the power to affect your health, but not the information to go with it. Why is it so hard to understand that I have two breasts that can have different needs? They aren't really twins you know.

Point is, I should have had that mammogram in July before I was pregnant if they weren't going to do it on the left, but I trusted the damn nurse. Now I will have to have it while I'm pregnant, whether it's now or in December. Why should I then wait until December?

Grrrrrrr.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Infertility Casino

I'm going to propose a new Vegas casino. I think a casino based on infertility is pure genius, because it is all based on hope and luck and losing all your money.

The doormen to the casino are actually pregnant women. At first you are happy to see them, smiling at them, perhaps asking where they bought their outfit as you hope to buy one soon. Later, when you see them walking through the casino on their lunch break, while you're broken and broke, you will refuse to look at them and put ancient gypsey curses on their minivans.

The slot machines for this casino will have to be specially made. The big money is if you can get an egg, a sperm and good lining all at the same time. If you only get one or two of the three, you lose. Don't worry, you will keep putting in your money and trying again. It's very addictive because you always seem so close to winning. Some people like me try for years, never getting that sperm and egg at the same time. Some people win, but then as they try to collect their winnings, they find that their money went into a tube, so they are forced to forfeit their winnings and be diverted to a special penalty box to wait out their sentence. The hope of winning makes people sit at those machines for long stretches, as they gain weight and are broken from their inability to hit the jackpot no matter how many books they read or special foods they eat or times they try. Meanwhile, fertile women will come in and win at one or two tries. They will gladly dispense advice that all that is needed to win is to relax.

One card game is similar to blackjack. The cards are also made special. They are embryos of various number of cells and grades. Based on your hand, you have to guess how many to transfer. If you pull a bad hand, no matter how many you transfer you will lose. Cards you do not transfer may be frozen for the next hand if they are good enough and if you pull the lucky "made it to freezing card." If you get quality cards, you can try for the blastocyst bonus round which is more difficult to reach but offers better odds of winning. If you transfer too many, you may win quads for which there is a penalty, or you may still lose but have no cards to freeze for your next hand. You don't get any cards until you pay the stiff fee to play, and even have to pay again to play again with your frozen cards though not as much. With the right combination and lots of luck, you feel you can actually win this game. Those who do slink quietly away from the table out of guilt for those haggard few who have played multiple hands and still haven't won.

The employees are all dressed like nurses or medical office workers. If you ask for directions in this very confusing casino, they will get extremely annoyed, roll their eyes at you for bugging them while they are clearly more important, then tell you to ask them a week from tomorrow at your set appointment time. They are very stingy with information, and too busy to deal with the likes of you. They will then add a charge to your tab for the priviledge of speaking to them.

The rooms are decorated in classic exam room style. They come with lovely cloth gowns, thin blankets, and paper sheets. A prenatal vitamin is left on your pillow every night. The sexy parts are the stirrups on each bed, and huge container full of condoms. Due to costs cuts, it is a BYODC - bring your own dildo-cam. Beware of calling room service. They always come in when you're still undressing, then back out and don't come back in for another half hour. It's very frustrating.

The food in the restaurant is all organic and very nutritious. Everything is full of folic acid. Of course there is no alcohol served, no matter how much the patrons have lost and need to take an edge off. Fortunately there is a very complete dessert menu with all varieties of chocolate. You cannot have an infertility casino without chocolate.

There are rides of course. There is one ride that is like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that used to be at Disneyland. You are in a car, riding through some dark rooms. One is kind of strange with pictures of naked women, and you are handed a cup. As you leave, some are directed down the glorious path of good numbers, while others go to a scary chamber with two-tailed sperm chasing them. Fortunately they don't swim well so they don't catch you.

The biggest ride of course is the infertility rollercoaster called The Cycler. It starts on day 0 which is kind of bumpy. As you start the meds, you start to rise as hope builds. There are ultrasounds which are kind of exciting loops, but sometimes they are disappointing or just make you ill. At this point you are reminded that there will be no sex allowed while you are riding the coaster, as if you were in the mood anyway. The rollercoaster will go through the very hot flash spot, baby shower land (makes me grumpy, wish we could skip it), and the enlarged ovaries slow moving area. The highest point of the ride, where the roller coaster seems to come to a complete stop is procedure day. From up there you're filled with promise and hope that the ride was worth it. After that is the two week wait which is kind of boring for a roller coaster ride. You are still nervous, yet have no information. You try to guess which track you are on, but there's no clear way to know for sure. The ride ends in one of two diametrically opposed places, with more ending in the land of one line, which feels similar to the track falling out from beneath you.

The shows are daily, but getting tickets is very difficult. Once you are in, the great RE will start his magic show. He will mesmerize you with positive stories. He will scare you with new personal facts. He's kind of like that Crossing Over medium guy. "There is someone sitting over there who I diagnose with PCOS." Of course that patron is sporting her insulin-resistant belly chub, a few stray chin hairs, and thinning hair so it's not that mysterious, but this is new information for her so she is scared and grateful. He throws her some metformin and clomid, then with a poof he is gone. It's a very strange and surreal show, one you thought you'd never go to and never wanted to go to, but yet you're glad you're there because not going hasn't worked. Unfortunately, the tickets are very expensive, but then pretty much everything at this casino is.

While the casino is rolling in money, it is not a very happy place. Some people leave without ever winning, out of money and out of hope. Some move on to the annex, where special adoption games are played. Some walk gently out into the sunshine with less money but a great prize in their belly, knowing they may visit again someday but praying it's not soon. Some stay and never leave. You would think that due to all the sadness that it would have trouble attracting new visitors, but yet there is a line for new appoinments, I mean reservations. As long as you have the money, you are invited to stay and play. Welcome to the Infertilty Casino.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Symptoms, Finally

I have symptoms. This doesn't sound exciting, but I've been waiting for something, anything to help me feel pregnant.

My nips are sensitive and sore, as if they had been pinched very hard. I also have a feeling of sickness that comes and goes. It's not enough to make me throw up, but that's okay with me. I also have cramping that comes and goes, which is scary but I remember cramping when I was pregnant before.

Speaking of my last pregnancy, I never got morning sickness then either. I was even pregnant with a girl which is supposed to cause more morning sickness. I do remember being extremely tired, and blood tests confirmed that I was anemic. I wonder if I am again. It's strange that the RE's office doesn't even check, or maybe they will at the 6 week u/s. I should probably start taking extra iron just in case.

Pretty boring post, huh? I know, I know. I'm a lot more fun to read when I'm angry.

I did get a call from my brother's wife yesterday. I have told only 2 siblings out of my 6. I told him in a sort of revenge after I found out that Matt told his parents. It's a decision I now regret. Of course he told his wife, I expect no different. I knew as soon as I saw the caller ID that she was fishing. They had called last week too, about nothing in particular. They were both on the phone, which kind of weirds me out. I didn't say anything about the cycle, which is why she called back yesterday. She kept asking how I was. I'm fine, just working, got to get back to work, you know how it is. Finally at the end, she came out and asked if we knew anything about how the cycle went. I answered that it's not a subject I'm comfortable talking about. Actually, I don't like talking about it. Sometimes I volunteer information when I feel comfortable, but I don't like being questioned. That should end the phone calls from them.

Matt's parents also called last night. Unfortunately, this was not a call I could control as Matt spoke to them. I know that they asked about it and Matt said that everything was good but that we didn't have any definite results yet.

Matt and I agreed not to tell anyone until after the u/s next week. It gives us time to get used to all of this, and time in case something goes wrong. Also, I like staying out of the limelight a little longer while I figure myself out. I know that once we announce, there will be many, many phone calls and I don't want to explain everything again and again. Is that selfish? Perhaps, but this has been a very long journey and I need time before I disclose it all. I enjoy my privacy and I'm still scared to death that something will go wrong. I guess the fear of bad news never goes away.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Do you know where you are?

I read my post from last night, and feel like a drunk the next morning. I talk too much. When it's that late, all my drama spills out. Generally, I'm not a feel-sorry-for-me person. I don't like attention and don't like to appear like I'm hung up on my childhood. Yes, it has changed me as a person in many ways, but most people would never guess my upbringing by talking to nor being around me. I've just got a few eccentricities, like an overfilled pantry or workaholic tendencies, that are more understandable once my childhood is revealed.

In general, I'm not one for dwelling in the dramatics. There's a friend of the family who is and it drives me crazy. I can't tell you how many times she's told me how she is infertile. She knows nothing of what we've gone through to have kids, like most other people. When someone tells me that they are infertile, I naturally listen closely for those sounds of sisterhood which would allow me to open up and reveal my own journey. Instead, her story involves one month of clomid with more side effects than you can imagine. Of course she only needed those (whispered in a serious, dramatic flourish) fertility drugs for one month, thank goodness. But, she believes them to be so strong that they allowed her not only that pregnancy, but another a year later on the residual effects of the drugs. I do not reveal my 6 months of clomid or many, many cycles of injectables alone or combined with clomid. Believe me, the only residual effects are some bitterness from disappointment, draining of the bank account, and possible higher chance of ovarian cancer.

She then tells me how her daughter is also infertile, probably got it from her. It had taken her daughter many months to get pregnant (in her 20s). Thank goodness she did not have to take those fertility drugs, but go on vacation to Florida with her husband. (Hmm, maybe that's my problem.) Throughout the pregnancy, her daughter was in terrible shape, barely able to do anything. At the end, she emailed me a picture of the baby, nearly 7 lbs, born 2 weeks early, with a onsie that said "Preemie Prince". Ever feel like throwing your computer across the room?

I'm generally a well-mannered person. For some reason, I haven't sent a baby present. I can't.

I shouldn't judge. I know that. I imagine fertility/infertility as a giant spectrum, ranging from super fertile on the left to many, many invasive treatments and still no success on the right. I'm pretty close to the right with my 6 IUIs and 1 IVF, but far from the end. Afterall, I've had one successful pregnancy, and another positive test just last week. I often mock those on the far left because they seem so clumsy, "falling pregnant" like they had nothing to do with it and no idea how to prevent it. It's all in fun though, kind of a salty, dark fun, but sometimes that's all I have.

I get angry when someone on the far left claims to be on the far right. No gratitude for the ability to conceive naturally or on only their first month of clomid. If I were sitting on that end, I would be kissing the sky for my good fortune. But I guess the farther to the left, the more clueless they can be as to how far out the right can extend. Even I can't imagine the extent of that level of pain, but I have great respect for those women who live there.

I guess I could educate them as to their incredible good fortune, but then what stories would they have to talk about at brunch? Who am I to minimize their great suffering? As to the "preemie", I am disgusted that a term like that is used on a 38 week birth. I'm sorry, but that's full term. Squeezing him into a preemie onsie is mocking all those babies who were born too early and actually had to go to the NICU. I find it incredibly tasteless. How can someone be that clueless? They're college educated people in a very modern age. Unbelievable.

Okay, maybe my anger also stems from the fact that this "infertile" daughter started trying more than a year after I did, and had her baby before I finished my 2nd failed IUI. Maybe it's because one shouldn't classify themselves as infertile if they are able to conceive on their own in a few months. How many times will I hear the story of her healing trip to Florida?

If this pregnancy continues, eventually I will come out on how we achieved it. I have an overwhelming desire to tell them what infertility and prematurity really are. I'm not sure if I will. Afterall, if they have remained this clueless for this long, perhaps they are immune to such concepts as sensitivity, tact, or consideration. How could it be that others may have had it worse but suffering in silence? Isn't it all supposed to be a charming story of success, with a happily ever after ending? What happens if the charming story still hurts, or that the bitterness from the loss of privacy from numerous uncaring physicians and office staffs who think revealing my coochie to them should be no big deal? What about having to spend my car money on trying to get pregnant when I have health insurance that covers Viagra but not gonal-f?

Will I eventually be able to hear such stories from this woman and not develop an overwhelming desire to start throwing things? Will I stop hating those who cannot understand? Why do we have to go through it to know what it's like? Why not be grateful when we get something we know that other women would do anything for?

Personally, I am very grateful. Even though I sit towards the right, I am grateful for not being farther on the right. I am grateful every day for the doubling beta and chance to experience pregnancy again. I'm far from out of the woods; there's so much that can go wrong. But if I can't be grateful for my current situation, then I wouldn't feel that I deserved it and wouldn't be able to enjoy this particular period of time. It could be better. I could have the ultrasound behind me with the heartbeat, or amnio behind me with good results, or birth behind me with baby in my arms. But, I know from the many one-lined pregnancy tests I've taken, it could also be much, much worse.

Knowing all that, today I resolve to dwell in the land of guarded optimism. It's not a familiar place, but one I could get used to.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Hungry Childhood

I'm tired, but I can't sleep. I should be able to. I've given up all caffeine except for one morning diet pepsi, and I know that's not enough to effect me tonight. No, it's my thoughts keeping me up. We were putting up some glow-in-the-dark planets on Janie's ceiling tonight, and it got me to thinking about my own childhood.

My parents divorced before I hit 2nd grade. My father had cheated (secretary who of course got pregnant), and my mother divorced him while she herself was pregnant with baby #5. She then went to law school as a single mother with 5 kids. She cleaned offices at night for extra money, and I would sometimes go with her just to spend time with her. If I pretended to be sick, she would take me to her school and I would listen to the lectures. After the divorce, she had decided to keep the house and keep us in private school, so we were extremely poor. Funny to be poor while living in the suburbs and wearing uniforms, but it's also worse in many ways. We were always confronted with what others had that we didn't.

We were so poor, our refrigerator was always empty. If you put food in it, we'd only eat it. My mother would complain because any fruit or bread she bought at the store would be eaten on the same day. I learned to make juice from margarita mix and eat the sour fruit from our backyard. You have to eat it immature, else another kid will get it. I still like my fruit more tart than juicy.

My brother says he's a doctor now because he was raised on mayonaise sandwiches. My mother would buy grapefruit juice and tomato juice because she knew we wouldn't drink them. If we had sweet pickle relish in the refridgerator, we would have eaten it by the spoonful. It was not unusual to go to bed hungry. I remember fainting in 2nd grade. The nuns couldn't understand it, but I knew it was from sharing a box of mac & cheese for dinner with my mother and siblings, having no breakfast, and no lunch. Matter of fact, I can't think of a single time my mother ever made me a lunch for school. I'd make it myself if there were something to make it with, but usually I'd go without. There were no free lunches at our school. I'd tell the other girls I'd lunch with that I wasn't hungry, although I was thin as a rail. One summer my brother got kicked out of his Mormon kindergarten because he had packed his own lunch, with a beer for beverage. My mother loves that story, but I think it is very telling of what was going on at home. We weren't drinking beer, but were desperate to have what everyone else had, and a beer in a can looks like a canned soda to a little kid with few options.

For Christmas, the St. Vincent de Paul society would stop by with a bag of presents that people had donated at church. My mother would cross out "Girl 6-9" or "Boy 2-5" and put in our names. They would also come by at Thanksgiving with a turkey, and at the beginning of the school year to get us fitted for shoes to last the year. We had food stamps for groceries, and were constantly being threatened with losing our utilities or the house in foreclosure. I remember taking baths at the neighbors when our water was turned off.

As kids, we would create all sorts of games to entertain ourselves. We would put on a carnival in the backyard, for 10 cents admission price. We would climb trees, read books, and play school. We were a little wild because we were mostly unsupervised. My mother would either be at school, studying, working, on a date, or sleeping. We had the run of the place, with my sister and I in charge starting at age 8. We still joke that there were originally 8 of us, but it was survival of the fittest and some just didn't make it.

What I hated most would be when my mother would send me next door to "borrow" a loaf of bread or milk from the neighbors. If I cried because I didn't want to, she'd tell me that I was starving the baby by not getting her milk for her bottle. I couldn't handle that, so off I would go. I knew it was begging and I hated it. I didn't mind being poor as long as I could do it in private.

At 10, I started cleaning neighbor's houses for money. At 11 & 12, I started babysitting. On my 13th birthday I got my first 'real' job at a video store. I was still too young to work legally, so he'd pay me daily in cash. I worked every weekend and all summer starting in junior high school through high school. I learned I had to rely on myself. As a kid, I used the money to buy my lunches, my school clothes, and any entertainment. I bought every car I've ever owned, and paid every dollar of my own expenses including college since moving out at 17. Working also got me out of the house, which I needed to escape.

Through this and lots of other history, I learned that the best person I had to rely upon was myself. I don't like asking for help or feeling needy. I have never taken more than 2 weeks off, and that is an extremely rare occurrence. I love working because it gives me a sense of security and ability to contribute. I never want to end up as poor as we were again.

So that brings me to the question at hand. What will I do if/when I have the baby? I had planned on taking a year off, which would end at the same time I graduate. I think we could survive off just Matt's salary for a year, but it would be tight. But I haven't had a year off in over 20 years.

I'm just afraid of becoming dependent. Of relying on someone other than myself to make a living and pay the bills. Money isn't important except for what it does. When the bills get paid, there is peace and security. We don't have to worry about what will happen. I have so much food stored at my house that we could survive for months. I hoard all sorts of canned, dry and frozen foods, because I never want to run out.

I know this is not a decision that has to be made tonight. Actually, I still have to see a heartbeat before I start believing that I'm really pregnant. But, these thoughts are keeping me up tonight. Getting them out has given me a little peace. Enough peace that I think I can sleep now.

My Speech

I feel like I've been gone forever. In truth, between traveling, catching up on housework from traveling, and just being exhausted, I have been neglectful to my blog. And I missed it. My public private room where I can talk on and on about myself and not feel so rude.

Lately what I have been feeling is apprehensive. I don't have enough symptoms to make myself comfortable with the thought that everything is fine. No more betas after the second one, so I've got to wait until my u/s next week. That seems like a long ways away.

Last semester I had to give a speech on something that I feel strongly about. It was tough, but I gave a speech on how infertility should be covered by insurance. This came with a disclosure that I was going through treatments, but no detail on what those treatments were or why. Anyway, one section of my speech was titled "Stupid Things People Have Actually Said to Me." I had several bullet points such as "Just adopt", "It's God's plan" and "Just relax." With each point I discussed how it was a cruel statement to someone going through treatment.

It was very hard for me to give this speech because I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Frankly, I was in the middle of our failing IUIs and contemplating IVF, and I couldn't think of anything else at that time that I felt strongly about. I gave this speech to about 10 classmates who filled out anonymous forms on the presentation. Many of the comments were very supportive, telling me that they had learned that infertility coverage for all would be inexpensive and fair, and what not to say to someone going through treatment.

For some reason, its the one comment that is not so supportive that sticks the most. One person stated that I should not say that those statements were "stupid" because they could be someone's true feelings on the subject, so I could be alienating part of the audience by putting them down. Why should I care about alienating or offending them if they believe that these stupid statements are fine to say to me? I mean I should care more about their feelings than my own? How would they not know that they're stupid statements unless they hear it outright? Yes, maybe another word such as "offensive" would be less crass or milder than "stupid", but I'm trying to make a stronger point on exactly how I feel about those statements. These statements reveal the ignorance of the person who dares state them as fact to an infertile woman.

Instead, I read the critical comment, intended on being helpful, and I felt injured. This subject was so sensitive that I couldn't read all the comments until about a week later. Even then, I almost ditched out with each comment sheet, not wanting to read something negative on a subject so personal, even though they were to comment on my oratory skills rather than the content. When I read this comment, I wanted to find this person and ask them why they thought those comments were not stupid. Are they just not stupid when spoken to an infertile woman? I would suppose that if they said the same comments to a cancer patient, everyone would agree that the comments were definately stupid. Yes, the word "stupid" is elementary and derogatory, but so are those hurtful statements people have actually said to me.

So I've been out of school now for two months, and this comment still occasionally comes back to me. I have a hard time letting go of any negative remarks regardless of how slight, when they are the comments I should forget first.

I still look forward to going back to school. Odds are that I won't have any of the audience students in any of my classes, so I won't have to worry about being asked how the treatments are going. I am glad though that I have a positive result right now, so that I have something to show for what I did this summer. I guess my Christmas card should read "I Know What You Did Last Summer" because by then it should be obvious. That still doesn't seem possible though, so let's not dwell on it.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

270!

That's almost exactly double Monday's 125, with a tiny extra for protection. The numbers also make me pretty confidant that it's a singleton. I will be happy either way, but my husband is very grateful.

I just finished a presentation here at work to almost 50 directors and managers on the budget. Very exciting. I think the free lunch drew in more than they cared to admit. I'm just glad it's over. I don't mind presenting, but I get very self conscious afterwards. I can see all my mistakes, remember the right way I should have said something, but it's too late to change it. There's another 50 people out there who now recognize me as a fool from finance. Good thing I don't live here so they can't laugh at me at the supermarket.

I arrived at my best friend Valerie's house last night after my long flight. She had decorated her guest room with a garland of baby diapers, fresh flowers, a congratulations expecting card, What to Expect on the nightstand, and baby gifts. I just started bawling. I can't believe it's for me. Is it really my turn? I don't feel pregnant. I don't look pregnant, but I just might be. Afterall, I never get any lines on pee sticks and I never get positive blood tests. It just seems surreal.

Sorry for jumping around, but I'm still getting my footing after the presentation.

The presenation was in the Perinatal classroom. It is of course right by OB triage, the nursery, L&D, and pregnant women as far as the eye can see. I see them with their bellies, and I'm still jealous. I wonder if that goes away, and when. Do they have any idea how hard it is to get into this club? Right now I feel like a probationary member. I'm only pregnant because they tell me I am. I certainly wouldn't use that p word to describe myself.

So last night Valerie and I went to dinner to celebrate. She told the waitress I was pregnant. She was full of congratulations, and I really didn't know what to say. We had a great dinner, and Valerie was celebrating that she got to drink the wine and I had to drive us home.

Matt is finally coming to a realization that I really am pregnant. When I showed him the faint line on Saturday, he didn't believe it. When I got the positive blood test, he was still in denial. I told him I was going to take him on Maury for denying our baby, but of course I've been in shock as well. Today he left me a message that he's been smiling all day thinking about my belly getting big. That seems very strange. None of it fits yet. I'm so used to living in a bad reality, that I don't know what to do with this good one. I keep waiting for it to slap me in the face and tell me this was all a bad joke. I just don't get it.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Guilt

I read all your comments and they make me smile. I feel so guilty posting a positive because I am so new to blogland. Once upon a time, when I was ttc Janie, I used to post on a ttc (trying to conceive) message board. I'd watch women join, get pregnant in just a few cycles, then graduate while I still hung out. I was later described as a dinosaur because I'd been on this ttc message board for years. It got to be that I couldn't post anymore because I couldn't handle watching others get quickly what I had been waiting years for.

Now, here I am, starting this blog, then a month or two later getting pregnant. I didn't start writing this at the beginning of my journey, or it would have been three years this last May. That's when I stopped breastfeeding and started trying again. It didn't go through my 3 failed IUIs. I started writing because IVF scared the heck out of me. A ramp up in technology, a last try, a huge gamble in time and money and emotions. And I didn't have anyone to talk to about it all. Matt can only take so much, and my best friend Valerie has been dealing with her newborn with Down's.

What I have found has been tremendous support. I really didn't expect it. I thought my blog would be lost in the world, with no readers but at least my thoughts would be expressed. I am so grateful, and now feeling guilty as well. How can I get pregnant again when there are so many more deserving than I, who can't? It doesn't seem fair. I feel like a fraud. Really, I am infertile, I swear. If only you could see my husband's SA results, or a picture of my cyst riddled ovaries, or fragmented embryos, you would agree.

The question is how I could feel guilty for women I've never met? Because after reading your blogs, I feel that I do know you. And I've told you things I never tell anyone, so you do know me. There is a common bond of hurt and frustration and anger and undying hope. How could I not care about your feelings?

Right now I feel like I'm living between two worlds. I don't yet have my second beta (not until tomorrow), so I have no idea how it's going. Without symptoms, I don't feel pregnant. On the other hand, for once in a long time, I'm not trying to get pregnant. Strange. Very strange.

But unlike those girls who would appear on the message board, get pregnant, then graduate and hopefully go away, I will not be going away. I am far from safe or assured. I need you still, as much as you can bear me. I have so many more hurdles to overcome before I can sleep peacefully. How could I obsess over this without you?

Tomorrow morning, I will have my second beta. I should be on an airplane to Arizona when the results are in. I will probably not be able to share them with you until Thursday. I wanted to let you know so that you wouldn't be wondering where I ran off to once it got exciting. I wouldn't want to leave you hanging. You've been there for me when I needed you most. Thank you.

Monday, August 02, 2004

125!

It's 125! It's funny, the clerk didn't tell me the number until I asked her for it. They really love to keep those details private, but I need to know. I needed a good number and for some reason, I feel like I have nothing to worry about right now. I love that number.

I tried calling Matt, but he didn't pick up his cell phone. Must be very very busy at work because I told him I'd call at 3, and it was actually 10 minutes early.

Valerie is at LegoLand, so I can't call her.

So you all are first to know. Have you ever seen anyone laugh and cry at the same time because that's the picture of me right now.

5 More Hours

I gave my blood at 7:30 this morning. They don't give results until after 3pm. 2 1/2 hours down, 5 more hours to go.

I got another faint line this morning, darker than yesterday but still faint by my standards. I try not to be too concerned, remembering that with Janie I only got faint lines. I would just feel a ton better if it had been so dark that the satellites circling the Earth could clearly identify it as a second line.

I have all my information ready as to average HCG levels for this many days past day 3 transfer and average progesterone levels. All I need now is some good news. I assume that if it is positive, they will want to do a second beta. That will be a logistical nightmare because I'm flying to Arizona on Wednesday morning. I'll have to have them fax the order to a lab there, and then have the lab fax the results back. It may seem simple, but it relies on a lot of people caring enough to fax properly.

Then again, I'm just going to worry about everything right now. For example, I don't have symptoms (except a nervous stomach). This is also the same that I was with Janie (never got morning sickness and no symptoms at all before testing.) But then there's a pain now and then on my right side when I cough. I try to ignore it but after reading so much on my Brooklyn Girl's ectopic, I am worried. I haven't even said anything to Matt because I don't want to worry him either. I'm sure it's nothing, I have no history, but then again, how could I have history when usually I never make it to getting a faint line? Again, I'm just working myself up for lack of anything else to do during this time of extreme torture. I know it doesn't take that long to do that test. I just know it.

I can't work. How is it possible to get anything done?
5 more hours...they're going to be long ones!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Unfamiliar Optimism

I just wrote this whole thing and with the slip of a finger I lost it all. Let me try again.

Thursday morning - 7dpt (7 days past transfer) - I christened my first hpt (First Response Early Detection). Only one line of course. It was too early, I knew that but it didn't stop me from getting down all day.

Friday morning - 8dpt - This morning I got a line that only I could see, along with some very experienced infertile women. I kept checking it all day in all sorts of light to get the right angle on it. Hope tried to wake up, but I shoved her back in the closet. I wanted to post about it, but knew that Matt could read it and I wasn't going to have him find out that way.

Saturday morning - 9dpt - The line was still faint but recognizable to infertile women and the men who humor them. A fertile woman would dismiss it and tell me to wait and try again in a week. Ha! I could never wait a week between tests. If I could, I would be waiting for my beta on Monday. I couldn't help it, I had to show Matt. He could see it, but said it was so faint that he refused to get his hopes up. As for me, you couldn't get the smile off my face. That night after dinner & movies, we went shopping together for more tests. It was very strange to buy them together. I'm used to doing it in a secretive solo trip to a drug store out of our neighborhood, then hiding them in the house.

Sunday morning (today) - 10dpt - I was in agony this morning with a full bladder, trying to pretend I was still asleep. I was too scared to pee on the stick. What if I forgot the secrets to this magic trick and the second line was gone? What if the line got lighter so it was just the trigger all along? But I could only wait so long. A few long seconds later I did get my second line. It is still faint, but darker than yesterday, undeniable and recognizable to anyone. I've lined up all four tests on my bathroom counter as modern artwork. "Shades of Faint; An Homage to Undying Hope, A Study in Impulsiveness, Medium of Morning Urine."

How do I feel? I've got absolutely NO symptoms. None. Nothing. Bumpkiss. I wish I had something, but I'm just grateful for these second lines, however faint.

You'll notice that I refuse to use the "P" word in reference to myself. No way. Bad juju. I still have a beta tomorrow, then doubling beta, then ultrasounds... When I was pregnant with Janie I didn't believe it for months. How could I when I was accustomed to bad news and being infertile?
So Hope is driving. Her hair is flowing, her smile contagious, and the radio turned all the way up to try to drown out all my critical and worrisome thoughts. It's working okay. I'm cautious, but very very happy.