Thursday, December 31, 2009
If I thought infertility was a roller coaster...well, let me just say that having a parent with poor health is..The Texas Cyclone.
The neurologist confirmed my suspicions--my Dad had just fallen victim to a bad reaction to a new medication added two weeks ago. Fairly easy fix was to increase his anti-seizure medication and then discontinue the offending med. That med had been given for depression and honestly I think just being home will do more for his depression than anything else. As it is, he's already on another anti-depressant.
So I woke up with hope in my heart again...Dad was going to be better...we'd get him back home....
Until my phone rang this morning. His two caregivers quit. Freaked out when they saw him have a seizure, and just quit.
Leaving my mom with no choice but to readmit him to the nursing home. And now he'll have a roommate because his bed was already filled.
It just keeps getting worse.
My sister thinks he needs to be at the nursing home for good. We disagree. She thinks it's too hard on my Mom to try to have him at home. I think we need to give it a fair shake. After all, he only got six precious hours back at home before the shit hit the fan two nights ago. My mom is worn out from going back and forth to the nursing home, so everyone's simple solution to that is: don't go so much.
Excuse me? They've been married 42 years. You just don't turn that off, even when everything changes.
And maybe I'm being selfish here: but the thought of my Dad languishing in a nursing home all by himself for hours on end every day makes me sick to my stomach. Sick to my stomach.
The thing is: there are no easy solutions. I feel as though I am choosing between my two parents. My sister is there today--she arrived yesterday afternoon. I just got off the phone with my mom who told me my sister is leaving at noon today...not even twenty-four hours later. WTF? Oh right--apparently because her husband only has so many days off a year to take with his family my sister doesn't want to miss any more of those. She told that to my mom, who sobbed that to me. (Gawd I hope my sister doesn't read this blog).
Yeah, I know I don't have kids so I can't fully comprehend this. But you know what? Her husband is a freaking workaholic and he chooses to live that way. So if he only gets so much time with his family, well, that's his choice ultimately. And life isn't always convenient, so I'm sorry that you miss a few days of vacation with your family.
Needless to say, if my sister is leaving at noon, I'm heading out as soon as I get off of work.
Did Mr. LC and I have plans? Of course we did. Do I need some time to recover from all the other crap in my life? Of course I do.
But as I said, life doesn't wait on stuff like that.
I'm exhaling and trying to think rationally. In a perfect world (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) this nursing home readmission will be temporary. He will continue to improve as the medication works its way out of his system. We will find new caregivers that are not afraid of a potential seizure, even though I don't think that is going to be a lingering issue.
And my Dad can be home. With his dog. In his own living room. Watching his own TV. Trying to reclaim some part of a life that has been decimated by stroke. My mom can be home with him, doing her own thing, not driving back and forth back and forth all day long. She will not be back in that place.
When we left the nursing home this past Christmas, Mr. LC looked at me and said "Whew, we won't be going back there anymore."
My other option? Quit my job and move home and take care of my Dad. I am a nurse after all. I did dream that I was carrying him around in an infant carrier.
Will someone please wake me up?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I would like to be able to just curl up in a ball and lie under my new heated throw blanket (perfect Christmas present!) and watch thirtysomething dvds and read good memoirs and NOT study for my lipid boards and not deal with patients and read blogs and be sad about our infertility and not try to figure out next steps and just be sad for a while and come out when I feel like it.
But I can't.
My Dad is in the ICU with seizures again. He cannot catch a break. My mother is sobbing into the phone with me and I can barely understand her. My sister is en route and I will likely go tomorrow after work unless things take a turn for the worse. Right now we wait on the neurologist to tell us what is going on. I suspect it is a new medication they tried and it has backfired horribly, but what do I know anymore?
I am learning and learning that the precious time in our lives when things are good--when we can coast--are sometimes very very short. Twenty four hours of bliss with a positive HPT...several hours yesterday when my Dad actually was moved home and things were going really really well until they turned horribly, horribly bad.
Do you ever feel like you are literally going to break into two?
Monday, December 28, 2009
As for anonymous 2: Undue hostilityand hatred towards our little brother? You're misreading that. Seven years of love love love is what we gave through some pretty crappy stuff, and we still care about him. I don't know many others who have mentored a kid/stayed that committed that long. We poured our hearts and souls into him and unfortunately it wasn't enough to keep him from making some very poor life choices. When we ended the relationship it was for many reasons, but mostly because he had kind of outgrown the relationship and we couldn't support the choices he was making. And yes, he knows about our situation (not specifics of IVF because that wouldn't have been appropriate and obviously not the last two because of the timing, but he knows that we've tried very hard and long to have children) because we've always been open and honest with him. Does he have the capacity to know that his text would be hurtful? Probably not, as he's just a teenager. But guess what? It still hurt and I'm going to write that it did. But please, do not criticize my seven years of volunteering to help this kid. It's a personal failure that really hurts--the fact that everything we did (the very aim of the program) couldn't help him avoid teenage parenthood twice. The criticism-- that really stings.
EDITED TO ADD: Teenage parenthood isn't the worst thing--but right now it's the thing that hurts the most. R went on to be involved in drugs, crime, etc. etc. Things are better now, but you can bet that hurt us a lot too. And we're not even his parents!
And now on to what I originally wanted to post about (which will probably draw some criticism in some way from someone as well...sigh).
I post a lot when I am in emotional pain.
My blog is dark right now and I would do anything in my power to make it light again.
This post is dedicated to my father.
While we were home this weekend, we brought my Dad home to the house for the day. It was nice, but there's no getting around the profound changes that have occurred. My mother is mourning the loss of her spouse, I am mourning the loss of my father. He is alive, yes. He is alive. I am grateful. But it is horrific to see him the way he is. He is slipping cognitively. His response time is so long we wonder if he hears us at all. I cannot even believe that it was just a couple of months ago that he sang gospel songs while Mr. LC played on the guitar. I read the words he had my mom transcribe into my birthday card in August and cannot fathom him coming up with those words today. I do not know what lies ahead.
While at the nursing home, carolers came by. My Dad looked so small and helpless in his bed. He is down to 140 pounds or so. As the carolers came in and sang "Silent Night" in harmony, I started to cry. It was just a few years ago that my Dad sang in those groups, singing in that very nursing home. He had probably sung in that very room before.
We stayed in my parents' bedroom at my mother's insistence. I don't think she really likes to sleep in there alone.
It was dark outside and our last night at home. Mr. LC was outside packing the car. My mom was up at the nursing home with my Dad. My job was to check and make sure we hadn't left anything behind.
I walked up to the doorway of their bedroom, which was dark. Light from the living room cast light on the carpet.
Exactly the way it would have looked just over six months ago when my Mom found him there in the early morning darkness.
I immediately had the urge to lay on the carpet, and I did.
I positioned myself as my mom described finding my dad, crumpled on the floor.
I sobbed into the carpet. I wondered how long he had laid there, if he had been frightened, if he tried to call out and could not find his voice, if he had tried to move, if he knew what was happening to him.
I felt connected to him in some strange way in that moment.
I sobbed into that carpet for all that he has lost, for the unfairness of it all.
AND PS: IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMMENT, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USING IDENTIFYING NAMES. THIS IS SOMETHING I ASKED FOR POLITELY WHEN I STARTED THE BLOG.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
We went home the weekend before Christmas to celebrate with my family, since my Dad can no longer travel (they usually all come here, and then together we trek to my sister's house) and my sister doesn't travel away from home on the actual holiday because of her kids. Understandable.
Of course, recalling that my parents know nothing about our last failure...so there's always that little secret that serves to make everything a little bit more interesting. And also, in case you yourself haven't experienced it, let me let you in on another little secret: an IVF failure is a devastating, horrific, life-shattering event to the person experiencing it, but to most other people it is fairly forgettable after a month or so, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays. And I'll admit that Mr. LC and I did a pretty good job of 'moving on' on the outside, so I guess that creates the illusion that we aren't still completely shattered. But many days, we're just tip-toeing along, our facade of being 'ok' held together by a thread.
Saturday morning I woke up and got ready, determined to have a good day. We were going to bring Dad home for the day. We were going to have our big family meal, we were going to open presents, we were going to play outside with my nephews, we were going to have fun, dammit! It was Christmas, after all.
(side note: I'm not phone technology savvy. I don't text. I can read texts but I can't text back easily. I didn't even know you could get pictures in a text. Foreshadowing.)
As we were about to head out to go get my Dad, I picked up my purse and looked down at my phone. My parents live in the country on acreage and cell reception is fairly pitiful there. But I could see a little icon in the corner of my phone that I thought meant I had received a message. I innocently clicked it.
A perfectly clear beautiful ultrasound picture popped up with the text words "It's a girl!" written on it.
I literally dropped my phone on the table like it was infected.
I shook my head...surely I had not just seen what I had seen.
I picked it up again, my heart pounding.
Yup, a beautiful ultrasound photo. The words "It's a girl!" mocking me.
My hands were trembling at this point. Alone, in the kitchen, I felt dizzy. My thoughts started racing.
"Who is sending me this?"
"Who would do this to me?"
"Is it a cruel joke?"
"Who do I know that is pregnant that would be finding out gender right now?"
and again: "Who would do this to me?"
Mr. LC walked into the room. So did my Mom.
I pulled him aside. Hands still shaking, I showed him the phone.
The color drained from his face. "Who sent it?"
"I don't know," I said, tears welling up in my eyes, my throat tightening. I felt like I was having a mild panic attack.
"Well look at the number!"
It wasn't a familiar number, but it had a familiar area code. Maybe it was a mistake? A mis-call, and I had just been the unfortunate recipient of someone's errant number punching.
Except it wasn't.
Mr. LC soon recognized the number, as coming from R.
Those of you who know our full story, know that R was our 'Little Brother' through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Our little brother that we loved and mentored for seven years.
Through the cancer death of his real big brother.
Through elementary school and then junior high.
Through his trouble with the authorities.
Through this trouble with teachers.
Through trouble with his mother.
Countless hours of homework.
Countless hours of trips, movies, dinners out, art projects, music projects...just hanging out.
Then through his brief incarceration.
Through his first pregnancy scare with his girlfriend.
We had practically ended the relationship when he turned seventeen, dropped out of high school, and his girlfriend was really pregnant. We made that painful trip to the hospital to visit his new perfect baby girl during the midst of one of our IVF cycle failures.
Now they are expecting again and I guess he wanted to share their little miracle with us.
Born to a teenage couple, neither of whom has graduated from high school. I'm sorry--I'm just going to say it: they're not ready. They cannot have the capacity to be great parents. They're struggling financially. But yet.
Two baby girls. The life of my dreams.
Not only did we ourselves fail biologically at having children, we apparently failed as mentors.
And then having to fight back sobs--all day long--when that picture popped into my mind's eye. Having to keep up appearances, a happy face, because after all, it had been a whole month (to those present who knew about the cycle). And having to hold it together completely for my poor Mom, trying her best to make as normal a holiday as possible when everything in her world is not at all normal. Thanks, R, for fucking up my Christmas more than it was already fucked up.
The gut punches...they just keep on coming don't they?
Friday, December 25, 2009
And now onto the post:
You've heard me speak of my invisible children. You've also seen (on my old blog) pics of our house with our enormous floor to ceiling windows. When I posted those pictures I got many a comment about seeing invisible hand prints that would one day turn into real hand prints when our children became visible.
A few days ago, in preparation for some family visiting, I was cleaning those floor to ceiling windows with Mr. LC. It isn't an easy job but the reward is worth it. I was outside and suddenly I saw it--a teeny tiny handprint.
Made from the inside.
From a baby.
Only, there haven't been any babies in our house in over a year (that I can remember). And I've certainly cleaned the windows many times in the past year.
At first I thought it was some type of critter (a raccoon perhaps?) and that the print was on the outside. I showed Mr. LC.
"Well how would a raccoon get that far up the window?" True, the print was about six feet up. Also, it was quickly obvious that it was on the inside. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out how it could have possible gotten there, and we were stumped.
I went inside and studied it.
It gave me chills. It was there.
And made me think it was a sign (and no, I don't really believe in signs, not anymore anyway). Our Christmas miracle was coming for sure...I mean, last month we had the faintest of positives. Maybe my body would now famously "know what to do"...maybe the effects of the biopsies was still lingering. I ovulated like clockwork on day 14. I won't get into details about any other stuff but suffice it to say things timed out very, very well. I had distinct uterine cramping 8 days past ovulation. Of course, it had to be implantation cramping. I used my progesterone supplements as instructed. We were due for a miracle. I wouldn't have even minded being one of those "see you stopped trying so hard and look what happened!"
And today my period started. Sigh.
So I don't know what to make of that handprint. And no, I don't believe in Christmas miracles. Today, while most everyone I know (but certainly not all) either watched their kiddos delight in presents under the tree, or are busily making plans for upcoming transfers of perfect embryos, or are rubbing their growing bellies--Mr. LC and I put together shelving from IKEA and ate homemade biscuits and soy sausage. I called my parents and my Dad didn't even remember we were just there a few days ago, celebrating. Yesterday we ate our tofurkey and went to twirl under the famous Zilker Christmas tree but were the only ones without little ones. The only place we felt somewhat normal was at our 11:00 pm Christmas service because the only people out that late were the ones not at home struggling to put together Santa gifts.
Sigh. I know I will receive comments about the handprint--that our child is out there and we just haven't found him/her yet. I know because I've made those comments myself to others. But let's face it: we don't have anything in the freezer, we don't have any plans for more cycles, we don't have any plans period. When people have been asking lately if I have kids I have been trying this answer on for size: "No, we can't have children." It hurts me to say it each and every time but it is my reality and I have to learn how to live with it.
This is one bummer of a Christmas day post, eh?
OK, we're heading out to the homeless shelter. I know if I waited until we returned to post this I wouldn't do it, because I'd realize that my problems are minor compared to so many.
OK, I already realize that, and I'm sorry to be such a whiner.
I wish a had a river I could sail away on.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I promise, those other posts will make it out. There's no way I can keep them in. But seeing as it's Christmas Eve Eve, I'll stick to this holiday thingy.
OH YEAH: Penny--my recipe is the oreo truffle balls! (one package of oreos processed in food processor, mixed with one package of cream cheese, shaped into whatever, then dipped! Pretty easy overall).
And now on with the show:
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate all the way. Right now my favorite is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Star.bucks. I don't drink coffee, but this is worth a visit to Starbucks. And this is where working in medicine is nice...the reps bring me all the Star.bucks I want. Nice, eh?
2. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping all the way. I love to embellish with little add ons, and I always do festive tulle for bows.
3. Real tree or artificial?
Growing up with horrid allergies, it was always artificial trees. I don't mind them. In fact, this year we purchased a second one, a silver tinsel mega-artificial tree.
4. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White lights, and tons and tons of them!
5. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
See pic below.
6. Do you hang mistletoe?
No...although we used to.
7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Of course. I love my nativity. Every year Mr. LC sneaks Yoda into it, because even Yoda has to worship the Baby Jesus and he's wearing a robe and is just the right size.
8. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I don't do Christmas cards. Remember that post I wrote a few posts back about what I'd love to say? Ha.
9. What is your favorite holiday dish?
We're all about the sides since we don't do meat--and I adore sweet potatoes. Tomorrow we'll be trying a tofurkey, so I'll let you know how it goes.
10. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Driving around looking at lights on Christmas Eve.
11. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was only six when a big mouthed neighbor ruined things for me. Of course, I still tried very hard to believe for a few more years.
12. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We open all wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa left gifts on Christmas morning.
13. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I love the idea of snow, but we don't really get it here.
14. Have you ever recycled a gift?
15. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
That suspended reality that usually happens...everyone seems to be nicer around the holidays. And of course, hanging out with my family and also my friends who are just like family to me.
16. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Yesterday I made a wicked pumpkin gingerbread cheesecake that is pretty high up. However, I have this tradition of always eating thin mints on Christmas morning....
17. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
It used to be listening to my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. I'm so sad he can't do that anymore.
18. What tops your tree?
A crazy retro star.
19. Favorite Christmas Show?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, bar none. The original, NOT that crappy Jim Carrey remake.
20. Saddest Christmas Song?
Joni Mitchell "River"
21. What is your favorite Christmas Holiday Song?
I love almost all Christmas songs. We bust out the holiday CDs in late November and play them constantly (we have at least 30-40) through December. Brave Combo's "Must Be Santa" is fabulous.
So, here is the pic of our tree--it's kind of eclectic, and I do the non-traditional colors on it to match our mod green couches I guess.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have three or four posts rattling around in my brain. They are so depressing I am going to spare you...for now. This weekend I had a moment that could only be described as a solid kick in the gut followed by a kidney punch that took me to my knees. Don't worry, I'll fill you in eventually.
But it's the holidays. And I'm trying. Once again I find myself trying so hard to just be. To enjoy the days, the frenzied activities of Christmas, and also to find the peace in Christmas. To not dwell on the obvious--my broken heart.
So I bake.
I made a ton of cake balls. Red, green, and dark chocolate with peppermint. Here's a pic of the sugared red oreo cake balls:
And this idea I shamelessly stole from Bea...once she mentioned it I couldn't wait to try it. It's obviously most appropriate for kids, so thankfully I have a niece and nephew coming over tomorrow so I made them for them. I give you Santa Hat Oreo Truffles:
It's what I do. I don't drink, I don't smoke...I bake.
Oh yeah, and shop. Egads.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Churches these days...many of them get a lot of flack. And it's not necessarily without cause...so many things you read about and hear about make you just shake your head and wonder what's going on.
Mr. LC and I are members of the United Methodist Church. I'm proud to say it's one of the most liberal, open minded churches I've ever seen. We signed up last spring to be a part of a new pilot campaign called "Imagine.No.Malaria"--the broader church's efforts to coordinate Methodist churches everywhere to join together to wipe out malaria in Sierra Leone. We weren't sure how we could help but knew it was something we were interested in so away we went. Our goal was to raise $60,000. I'm elated to say we raised $114,000! Some of you may have heard of Nothing.But.Nets, which is a part of the campaign that's been around for a while. If you know anything about malaria you know that mosquitoes carry this deadly but highly preventable disease, and a mosquito net used properly is often literally a lifesaver. In Sierra Leone, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. The Imagine.No.Malaria campaign is broader than just nets now, and I truly believe we have a shot at eradicating this disease.
Anyway, Mr. LC decided he would write a song for the campaign, to be performed at our church. I helped him a little bit. Someone else performed it and it went over well. So well, that the larger church wanted a recorded version of it to share--possibly all over the country and to be used in promotional videos.
I think it's beautiful. I know I'm biased, but the African feel, the music, the theme...I love it all. And yes, Mr. LC convinced me to sing with him.
To me, churches should be outside of their walls, out there doing the real work. Feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, loving everyone.
Enjoy the song. And Imagine.No.Malaria.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
If you came to my blog looking for that, well, sorry to disappoint.
Remember my doc friend who ended up being my cycle buddy? And remember their beautiful HCG numbers?
Well, Monday he announced it's twins.
Yeah. I knew it all along. Somehow, they get twice what we'll ever get on their first try. And yes, I understand they still have miles to go--I have witnessed too much heartbreak and tragedy firsthand to know they're 'safe'--but at this point, they are miles and miles ahead of us.
When I went home and told Mr. LC that they saw heartbeats--that if ours had been successful we'd be seeing a heartbeat by now and he got the most heartbroken look on his face and said "We'd be seeing heartbeats now?" He then just shook his head.
He doesn't really read this blog unless I ask him to check out a post, and I'm not sure he minds when I mention him (he's never said) so I'm going to go ahead and talk about him. This loss/failure has hit him in a different way. On the one hand, he's always maintained that as much as he'd love a child, the loss of pregnancy is something he cannot understand because of that Y chromosome. So he feels like this whole process hurts me more. He has also developed some wicked coping skills after our first failure--meditation, keeping a loose idea of unattachment, etc. Plus he has always tried to be strong for me, knowing full well (and being spot on correct) that I pretty much fall to pieces when we fail.
So following our latest epic fail, he was sad. But not blown apart. More "well, what else can we expect" kind of sad.
But more recently, it's hitting him--and hitting him hard. Last night he said "But we've never been in this position--with no treatment or prospects ahead." Yesterday he sent me an email with the following:
"Y'know what strikes me? Especially on FB, many people with kids that post family snapshots want to show everyone Just How Happy They Can Be(!). Look at our joy!! My, how happy are we!
I'm sure kids are the light of their lives, but the s**t eating grins are truly shmackable. I know that even if we had one, it'd still seem like people are trying to out-happy each other, because folks are dying to win. Best of all, we get to watch from the sidelines.
I HATE TO SEE HIM HURTING. I feel so responsible for all of this. For all of this pain. For his pain. It's a burden that I have to bear, no one can bear it for me. Yes we have male factor, but it's not severe. I have often wondered how many beautiful little Mr. LC's would be running around right now if he had just picked someone else. Someone with healthier eggs, without endometriosis ravaging their ovaries, without a fluffy/hyperplasic lining. Someone else, someone not me.
We are going to be alone for the holidays this year (not because of IF, but more because of my Dad not being able to travel). So for the first time in forever, on Christmas Eve it will just the two of us, a tofurkey, and our pets. We won't be cooing over our first ultrasound photos like we were supposed to. We won't be sitting out cookies for Santa. I guess we won't be completely alone, as we'll be at the ARCH serving homeless men on Christmas Day. That's a good thing--I will need that perspective.
But we'll miss out on the magic of Christmas that is reserved specifically for children. Instead, it's just the two of us. Like it is starting to feel like it will always be.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I work in medicine. I always take a look at my patient's 'social history' in their chart. It tells me their occupation, marital/partner status, and information about children. I seem to hone in on those that say 'children: none'. If they're older I am dying to ask them how their lives worked out that way, if they have any regrets, etc. Of course I don't--that's not my job nor my place. If they're younger or in that zone of 30-early 40s, I wonder if they might be like me.
This morning when I got to work I wanted to read my own pathology report. So of course I opened my chart (we're all electronic charts, nothing paper to go hunt down). And then I saw it:
Marital status: married.
And it took my breath away.
I mean, it's not like I don't know I'm married (15 years!). It's not like I don't know my age (though I hate that I've crossed into advanced maternal age land). And DUH, it's not like I don't know my pathetic status of no children. But seeing it in black and white, as part of my medical record, well that just plain sucked.
I also realized that we're about to be into 2010, which means we're coming up on 5 years of TTC. I am not completely sure how we got here some days. When I used to read someone's profile or blog info and see TTC for 5+ years I would feel somewhat shocked. As in, who can go through this crap without some resolution for so many years?
But yet here we are, up to our necks and nearly drowning in this crap.
And then there was a piece in the New York Times about A.R.T. and it was a sad story of a very complicated situation and I read it, and then read some of the comments. Take home point: the world is so judgmental of us. Those of us who are not lucky enough to have sex and have a baby...we're apparently freaks of nature. And others are so judgmental it hurts. There were numerous comments about infertiles needing to take the hint from 'nature' or God that some people just aren't meant to be parents.
And even though I know these comments are ridiculous, and I can counter that argument with a million examples of nature getting it dead wrong, it still hurts. It hurts to know so many people do not understand my pain and frankly, never will. They'll just sit with their biological babies and judge judge judge.
And then there is Mich.elle Dug.gar. I can barely muster the energy to write anything about this. I wonder if this will end her quest to just keep having more babies.
As for the commenters who made such generous suggestions about helping us out with finances, I'll tell you, it's tempting. But it's so, so complicated. I think I would feel tremendously guilty accepting any help from anyone, because we feel like--as irrational as it is--this is our bed and we have to lie in it. As in, somehow we have to finance our dreams. But you never know, one day I might just change my mind :) --clearly I've been known to do just that.
Finally: distractions. I'm grateful for them right now. Yesterday I did some holiday baking. We had two parties over the weekend plus we worked at the shelter. We also completed our holiday shopping and ended last night with a wrapping party while watching Christmas Vacation. If I can keep my mind and my body super occupied I forget to hurt, and that is such a nice relief.
Friday, December 11, 2009
On my old blog, I once wrote a post about invisible children. I had written the post after reading another blogger's post on her invisible children. She had suffered a tragic loss, the birth of a full term infant who died only days later. She wrote about her invisible child that no one else could--or wanted--to see.
My invisible children, are, of course, different. I've never seen them on ultrasound, or felt the weight of them in my arms.
They have only been visible in my mind's eye.
Every day I think about the children we would have had by now, had we not been infertile. We'd have a three year old and a one year old right now. If I start thinking about all the treatments and where those children would be had ANY of them worked, it is mind boggling.
Oh how I want to know those children. How I want to see who they look like, if they favor Mr. LC's talents, or mine. I know that children are their own entities, complete with their own personalities. And I've even been advised (assviced?) by others that once you have children you don't care from whence they came.
But that doesn't take away my longing to know my biological children. To see them. To hold them in my arms, to let them fall asleep on my chest. To watch them grow. To look across the dinner table at Mr. LC and say "Oh look! Little LC is just like her father!"
But they remain invisible. Only a figment in my imagination.
I've been told that if we adopted it would be OK because "we wouldn't know what we were missing."
I will not even touch that statement because it offends me on so many levels. I'll just let it hang there in the blogosphere.
I guess I am grateful for my imagination. This Christmas I will imagine taking them to see Santa, I will imagine the look of wonder on their little faces as we look at holiday lights, I will imagine their sleepy eyes on Christmas morning seeing gifts under the tree and half eaten cookies on the hearth. I will imagine their beautiful sweet little baby voices singing "Silent Night." I will imagine Mr. LC reading them "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and then carrying their sock-footed PJed little bodies to bed, asleep on his shoulder.
I just miss them. So, so very much.
EDIT to add: After reading a couple of comments, I just wanted to say that Mr. LC and I had always said we would adopt one day. We had the "have one then adopt one" kind of mentality. I think adoption can be wonderful. I wish more people did it instead of cranking out 3, 4 and 5 bio kids personally. And the comment someone made to me about not knowing what we'd me missing that I referenced in the post--I think that is offensive to adoption in general--making it seem somehow 'less than.' I honestly don't know which way we'll end up going--I've learned to quit trying to guess. I just know that I do miss my biological children--that much I most definitely know.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
One of today's Yahoo health headlines said something like "seven foods top nutritionists would never eat." And the FIRST one was canned tomatoes.
I eat canned tomatoes. A LOT of them. I have never minded that taste, and I lazily use them on homemade pizzas, on top of spaghetti squash, etc. etc. Probably I eat them twice per week, at least. So imagine my horror when the article said that the BPA is found in high amounts in canned tomatoes. "Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals." Maybe I'm an idiot but I didn't know this. I swear I didn't know! All the things I've done to protect my health, and this I didn't know.
I didn't eat anything else on the list. We only do organic milk, we don't eat any meat (mostly for humane purposes but also because of those scary hormones they feed factory farm animals) but who knew canned tomatoes could be crapping out the chromosomes on my eggs?
And today I had to have a biopsy of my thyroid, which managed to grow a single solitary suspicious nodule. When I had it ultrasounded two weeks ago I took the ultrasound report to my boss, a wonderful endocrinologist with whom I would trust my life. I covered up my name on the report and asked if he would think it needed to be biopsied. He immediately said yes.
When I said, "Waah, it's me, and I don't want a needle stuck into my neck" he told me I could survey all the endos at our practice and go with the consensus, but that was his opinion. So everyone I surveyed said to biopsy for sure.
I kept avoiding scheduling it and then today he called me and said "I want to biopsy that thing today. No more waiting."
So today on my lunch break I had my neck numbed up while my favorite doctor/boss punctured my little nodule with a needle in three different locations. Yowza.
The odds of cancer are low. But since thyroid cancer runs in my family and my nodule was suspicious, well, you just have to be careful. Thyroid cancer is highly treatable but dude, I don't really want it.
Damn those tomatoes and damn that thyroid nodule.
Holiday letters: I'll admit, we used to send one. You know, where you highlight all the high points (usually) of your year, brag about your kids (or dogs), and put in a picture (that's probably been Photoshopped). We stopped sending them after our second (or was it third?) IVF failed. Everyone knew that was what was going on, and writing about all the other superficial stuff and dancing around our own pain just felt, well, superficial. So here's the one we would send out this year, if we were being honest and keeping in the true holiday letter- overuse- of- exclamation- point-spirit!
Dear Friends and Family!
It's that time of year again--wow, we can hardly believe a whole year has passed by! I mean, we've been busy busy busy but essentially we're in exactly the same place as we were four years ago!
Let's see...on the heels of our spectacular crash and burn IVF cycle last November, we decided to scrape ourselves off the floor and pay another $20,000 to CC.R.M. to try again. Boy do we feel blessed for the privilege!
First off, I went to six months of acupuncture (secretly hoping it was the special cure and we wouldn't really need the big shot clinic again...but waaah waaah, every month my period showed up right on time, so clearly that wasn't enough either). I just loved laying there having little tiny needles poked into various parts of my body! I choked down herbs and more herbs--sometimes gagging on the teas. I then decided to give up all sugar, which really was just a delight. I also choked down gallons of protein shakes--yum yum! And lest you think Mr. LC was left out of the fun--every night he lined up his massive supplement doses just like a good little junkie and took them right down.
I started off by taking four shots every day. Mr. LC is really good at giving them to me right in my stomach. And the bruises were just lovely!
So we went out there in August and let me tell you it was spectacularly fun! Every morning I'd wake up early and go have an ultrasound wand shoved up my hoo ha to see how many follicles my ovaries could grow on massive doses of synthetic hormones. Then I'd get my blood drawn to see if my estrogen was going up high enough, or maybe too high to risk my life with a hyperstimulation syndrome. It was really a great vacation!
To get ready for picking up our little embryos I went and had my uterus punctured not once, but twice. Sure, I nearly passed out from the pain but hey--who am I to complain? I felt blessed to have the opportunity to improve my chances for getting what most people get from drinking a little too much wine.
We went back out in November to pick up those little embryos and boy were we full of hope and excitement! Another spectacular getaway! We came home with four potential babies on board. Crazy? Probably so. But don't judge until you've been there.
So here we are, at the close of 2009, a lot poorer and our hearts are basically a mangled mess. It's a good day if I don't break down and cry, so that's what we're grateful for. Most days we just get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, look at each other in disbelief that we're here, discuss options, throw our hands up, and go to bed again.
Hope you and yours had a great year of birthdays, and special 'firsts' and trips to Disneyland, and baking cupcakes and cuddling and snuggling and sweet baby smells and little tiny kisses and footed pajamas and just absolute bliss.
See you at the end of 2010!
Mr. and Mrs. LC and their three spectacular furchildren
Monday, December 7, 2009
It turns out my Dad was actually septic. I know. The poor man. It seems that neither of us can catch a break. I tell you, if I follow in his footsteps genetically well, oh boy. Marathon runner, non-smoker, never overweight, etc.--wound up with quadruple bypass and a stroke. So um, why am I fighting to pass these genetics on? At any rate, his current infection is steadily improving.
So...Thursday night I had a little diddy known as the WTF call. Well, I wouldn't really call ours that anymore. I've been through too many of these 'after the IVF BFN' calls to feel like they're truly WTF? I did want to speak with my doctor and get her medical opinion on things. Of course she knew it was our last try and kept saying over and over how sad it was to get a chemical pregnancy. Tell me something I don't know! She said at least we knew at least one embryo made it to blast, differentiated, hatched, and implanted. My uterine lining was receptive to implantation. All good things, but all not enough, obviously. She was neutral on any future recommendations other than to definitely NOT go out and get a uterine ablation...just in case. I cried on the phone, which I didn't want to do. But when your doctor says things like "It's just not fair and I just don't understand why this is happening to you and Mr. LC" and shows some real human compassion well, it's hard not to just start blubbering. And then in the freakiest moment, she asked if I'd ever considered writing my story because she thinks it could serve as something meaningful to a lot of people. Maybe they found me?
I also used that time to heartily complain about some of the nursing issues they have.
Here's a confession: I always thought that if I was successful with ART I'd think about a field change into reproductive endocrinology. I've been through it, and I just feel like I could connect with patients in a way that would be meaningful. But not anymore. While I could be empathetic, who would want a provider who'd had five failed IVFs? That would freak most anyone out.
Not to mention I'd probably be envious of someone just starting out their journey. For example, one of my coworkers is 38, just starting TTC, and is only on the clomid phase. While I'm not envious of her age (and I am NOT saying 38 is old--in many many ways age is not the biggest factor regarding success or not) or the fact that she's possibly introducing IF into a very young marriage, I'm strangely jealous of the fact that she has the whole world of ART stretched out before her, just waiting to swoop in and fix her.
So here I am. Still hurting. Not going to change careers. At the end of the road of ART.
Right now, it's just enough to make s'mores with good friends, hold hands with Mr. LC, and cuddle up with a good book and furbaby.
It's enough because it has to be enough.
Friday, December 4, 2009
My Dad is doing much better. Apparently, he was this.close to sepsis with a fast moving kidney infection. But several rounds of IV antibiotics have made him much better. He doesn't remember any of yesterday--he was simply too sick--but I had a decent conversation with him on the phone today. So I didn't go home. Instead, I just called obsessively all day long.
But I think it was a good choice.
Mr. LC and I need a weekend. We're going Christmas shopping, which we both oddly enjoy. I like the crowds and the hustle and bustle--to a certain extent. We will restrain ourselves from singing our special "Triple A" song...have I ever taught you the Triple A song? No? Well, it stands for "anyone, absolutely anyone" which Mr. LC put to a groovy little tune and he sings it when he sees someone pregnant and smoking or some other example of the fact that anyone, absolutely anyone can get pregnant but me. In fact, now all he does is hum the tune and we know what it means. Regardless, we're going to ban it tomorrow.
Tomorrow--we're going to shop, eat out, stroll, shop, eat dessert, and have a good time. We're going to watch the rest of Season 2 of 30 Rock and then on Sunday we're committed to finishing Madmen. We're going to volunteer at the ARCH soon and that's always good for perspective and I'm going to do some baking which is always good for...well, not much expect stress eating.
If there's one thing we've learned, it's that we have to keep moving forward.
So onward we'll go. Wish us luck!
PS. Cameron--thanks for the comment. We are eerily similar and I'm sorry for all you've been through. I wish you had a blog--shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever want to chat.
PPS My guilt blog--I just wanted to remind people that I promise I'm not saying anyone who goes to extreme measures to have a child is in the wrong. How in the world could I say that, after swearing we'd never do ONE IVF and doing FIVE? One thing I've learned throughout this journey--it is intensely personal and no one ever really knows what they'll do until they get through the next phase. I can only laugh when I think about Mr. LC and I--after going to a required informational session on IVF--we came out of there shaking our heads saying "well that's not for us! No way, no how." If those kids could see us now...
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I feel guilty.
Guilty that I've spent as much money as I have on this pursuit when children languish in orphanages around the world. Guilty because that's the attitude we IFers often get from fertiles when they say something like "but there are so many needy kids out there!" and it makes us want to claw our eyeballs out. But the truth is: it's the truth. Guilty because Mr. LC and I always said we'd 'have one adopt one' and truthfully, adopting goes more with our liberal/moral philosophy on life--because let's face it--taking care of a child that already exists is much better for the world in nearly every single way. Guilty because this makes perfect sense to me but I can't get my heart to agree completely to that point.
So I feel guilty because of my biological urge.
Guilty that I have made my fertile friends suffer from the condition of 'fertile guilt. That I screwed up the whole chance to have playdates and Mom's brunches and just be normal.
Guilty that I can't move on.
Guilty that four and half years of supposedly the best time of my life have had an undercurrent of profound sadness because of IF and I know that's made me a shitty friend sometimes, and a less than gracious person, and bitter, and jealous, and sometimes I've acted like a spoiled child stamping my feet saying "I want I want I want."
Guilty that I still don't want to give up.
Guilty that I'm so selfish to want my own child that I would have gone to such ridiculous lengths to do it.
Guilty that I spent so much time and energy on this. Imagine if I had channeled that elsewhere? I can say this: I would've taken and passed my NLA boards by now, I would have written my book (though what would the ending be?), I could have accomplished so much with that energy.
Guilty that I'm a crappy godmother. A crappy aunt.
Guilty that I didn't support Phoebe properly during her cycle because I was too mired in my own grief.
Guilty that I am jealous jealous jealous--not only now of my friends with kids, but of people with two healthy parents, too! Guilty because I'm jealous of former infertiles with pregnancies--I hate being jealous of them because they worked hard to get where they are and all I wanted was to join them.
Guilty that I feel like someone else shouldn't have success on their first IVF cycle because I haven't had success after five. Damn that sounds horrible.
Guilty that I'm scared of the next pregnancy announcement, from a fertile or infertile. They all hurt these days. Guilty that I'm mostly scared of being the only one left because it's ticking down--in real life and in online life.
Guilty guilty guilty.
And now guilty because my Mom just called to tell me that my Dad is in the ER with probable pyelonephritis and he's miserable. Guilty because he called out "Mrs. LC! I'm watching for you to come in the door any minute now!" Guilty because I just wanted this weekend to be with Mr. LC, we have plans to try to re-join the living, but instead I probably should be driving 3.5 hour towards the hospital right now. Guilty because if I could just move on to adoption my Mom would have something wonderful to focus on and it would lift her low spirits so much.
There, I purged.
Guilty as charged.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
HP-Oprah would likely filet me for not helping out a needy kid via adoption. She's done a couple of stories on infertility and frankly, got it wrong. Now I'd love to be the poster child for correcting some misperceptions, but I just don't think she's interested.
Sky-That would indeed be quite a story!
Anonymous 1-I have heard of that mythical blogger who worked at Kinkos to finance IVF treatment. In fact, I walk with her nearly every Friday where we bitch and moan about infertility. Kind of funny!
Anonymous 2-Oh please know a producer! Even if someone didn't want to follow my story, I think Discovery Health owes the infertiles a show or two, rather than just all these ridiculous "I didn't know I was pregnant" or "pregnant and ______". Years ago they did The Baby Lab but seriously? It is so out of date now it's silly. It's time to correct the notion that infertile women pursuing IVF 1) always succeed or 2) are Octomom.
Meg-I'll take a music video producer. We actually have our own little IVF music video already made. The thing is: we shot the ending on the positive HPT day. So, um...yeah. Right now we're figuring out what to do with it, and someone the song we chose is no longer quite right.
Now, on to my post title.
I have a friend in real life that I've known since I was a wee little one. I don't see her much anymore, but we used to be really close. She was on a vacation when we got our news, and truthfully she didn't even know about the cycle. So when I got an email from her just asking how things were, I decided to give her the full update.
Here's the response I got:
"I'm sorry about your pregnancy......disappointment. I hope you guys can figure out a way to move past this."
Disappointment is going to the movies to find your showtime is sold out. Or not finding some shoes in the right size. Or maybe ordering something new on the menu to find out that it doesn't taste as good as it sounded.
Disappointment is not four and half years of heartache culminating in a fake-out pregnancy.
Of course, said email came from someone who's two adorable children both came as "surprises" because she just couldn't tolerate the Pill (headaches) and...well, I'll just leave it at that.
I guess I'm not handling my disappointment very well. But golly gee, I hope I can move past it.