Monday, July 26, 2010

Are you sure?

Why won't blogger allow me to use italics in my title?
If it would, it would read: are you sure?

And that word 'sure' would be triple italicized, if that were possible, and quadruply bolded if that were possible.

I know I have sucked as a commenter and as a poster lately. I'm still working on coming up with a new blog but that, alas, has taken a back seat to, well, life, lately. But I have so many posts swirling in my head and I know they'll all have to come tumbling out eventually, in some space, somewhere. But for now, I just wanted to share this little gem of an interaction with you.

We all know that to be politically correct in the IF journey there can be no pain olympics. And I've said and read this before that being a true IF veteran might be more of a state of mind than anything. However.

There are most definitely subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences between those who have gone through multiple cycles and those who have not. Those who have flawless cycles and those whose cycles fall apart piece by piece, bit by bit. Those who have one single diagnosis that is mostly 'fixable' with IVF and those who have multiple diagnoses that might be sorta kinda amenable to IVF but really who the heck knows. I say all of that because of the interaction I had with a woman last week that has still left me laughing (mostly) and shaking my head.

I was in my work lunch room talking with a pharmaceutical rep. Something was said about fertility or infertility, the lead-in to the conversation isn't important to the meat of the story. She said "Well we did IVF to have our first child and then after that, bam! we were pregnant on the first try with our daughter without any intervention. And we had 19 frozen blasts left from that first cycle."


She went on to say that they had male-factor only and so they had done IVF, and it worked. She gave me a look like "You have no idea how hard IVF is." (True, I have no idea if this is really what she was thinking. I am only guessing based on her expression.)

I casually said "We did IVF five times so I know what you mean."

She looked at me with her mouth agape.

And then she said it.

"Are you sure? Are you sure you did IVF five times and not five IUIs?"

Oh. My. God.

Am I sure?

Am I sure?

Let me count the ways I am sure.
I am quite sure that was me who underwent 40+ vaginal ultrasounds.
I am quite sure that was me who took countless injections.
I am quite sure that was me who went under anesthesia five times and had my ovaries punctured with a long needle through my lady-parts.
I am quite sure that was me who took those nail-biting phone calls with fertilization reports and embryo growth reports.
I am quite sure that was me who laid down on my couch countless nights while the mister stuck a two inch needle into my keister to shoot me up with progesterone.
I am quite sure that was me who submitted to 40+ checks of my estradiol levels.
I am quite sure that was me on an airplane flying to Colorado four separate times.
I am quite sure that was me who signed checks to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars to pay for those cycles.
I am quite sure that was me who sat through five WTF conversations with two different REs.

Hmmmm, am I sure?

Lady are you crazy?

Or am I?

Am I so crazy to have done so much--so much--that someone else would question whether I could possibly have done that much? (and really--while it's a lot, yes, I know several people who have done many more than five fresh IVF cycles).

Here's something else I'm pretty sure of (but again, I'm just guessing): that this woman coasted through her IVF cycle where everything went swimmingly and it worked (ok I know that for sure) and she had 19 leftover chances (I know that for sure, too) in case it didn't and then look! she didn't even need them (I know that for sure, too).

Did I really do five IVF cycles?

Yeah, I'm sure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Salty and Sweet

I didn't mean to leave you in a lurch and not post in a while. We spent this past weekend back at my parents house. I wish I could say that my Dad is doing so well but I can't. Slowly...ever so slowly...he is slipping. It's heartbreaking to say the least. I hate seeing my Mom this way--alone basically. But not alone. My Dad is still there but he's not--not really. They're not partners anymore. I ache for them both.

Life is salty and sweet.

There were times during my IF battle that I cried enough tears to salt the entire planet and drown it too. Salty, salty tears. I was drowning in them myself.

There have also been times--many times--in this battle that life has felt abundantly sweet.
Because sometimes it takes the salty to recognize the sweet.

I don't expect the next part of the journey to be nothing but sweetness. I'm too wise (ha!) to expect that anymore.

But I want to keep writing about it. About all the tastes that life has to offer because my senses are not frying anymore--they're alive again.

I'll be setting up a new blog soon and I'll let you know. I guess my moniker will change, too. Like I said in the last post, I'm not LastChanceIVF anymore. That chance has come and gone.

Salty and sweet--and you guys have been there for it all. Offering sweetness when all there was was salt. Thank you for that. It's so inadequate but I mean it. And thank you for encouraging me to keep telling the story. I want to keep telling it. I think I need to.

In keeping with the theme, I leave you with a picture of my kitchen-happenings yesterday. Caramel devil's food cakeballs, topped with sugar crystals and just a tiny pinch of sea salt....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Change in the air


So I think it might be getting time to wind down the blog.

I'm not an infertile woman pursuing fertility treatment anymore. I don't hear from people as often as I used to and I understand--it's not the same journey anymore. I miss people though, and then I obsess that I've said the wrong thing or not been supportive enough and really I need to realize that the story is different now. Maybe not as compelling. Maybe I don't speak in a language that others want to hear.

That's ok.

This place has been such a great source of strength but I just wonder sometimes if I need a break. So I'll be thinking hard about what I want to do next--keep blogging about the adoption or just fade off into the sunset. I'm not LastChanceIVF anymore after all.

Although I will always be her in part.

At any rate, before I decide I had to write this next post.

Claudia--a successful Ethiopian adopter of the most gorgeous twins by the way--left the following comment on my last post regarding why it is probably a good idea to avoid s-e-x near times of ovulation: Adoption can seem so much like 'failure' to the IF world - and this makes your baby the success baby, not the failure baby. It makes that baby the focus of what you're looking forward to, rather than the 'plan B' baby!
It's an interesting concept, I'll admit. Because the mister and I always said we'd 'have one adopt one' long before realizing we were infertile so I never thought of adoption as a second choice. Of course, back then I also thought babies and pregnancy were easy to come by and life would go according to the way I planned. I really had very little knowledge of international adoption--I have two cousins who were adopted from China and while I watched my aunt struggle through that process I really had no idea of the struggle.

At any rate, when you're immersed fully and wholeheartedly in ART and some clueless outsider mentions adoption well, you tend to cringe. You do feel like it is a second choice. And at that point, I guess that's true. If it weren't you'd already be pursuing adoption versus ART, right? So on the basis of the definition of first choice vs. second choice, for years we kept the biological baby as our first choice. We had discussed that having a biological child first, and then adopting, made the most sense--that way the adopted child would never feel they 'weren't enough' and that's why a biological baby followed. See? We were always thinking, the mister and I.

So yes, biological baby was the first choice. But it was never our only choice.

I saw the movie "Temple Grandlin" recently and her mother described her autistic but brilliant daughter as "different, but not less."

When she said those words I felt my heart and soul swell with emotion, and tears started to fall. They were not sad tears but they were tears of understanding.

Our option to parenthood is different--certainly--but it is not less.

As we traveled deeper and deeper down the road of ART for family building, as we met with more and more obstacles, more and more frustrations, more and more heartbreaks, we naturally started thinking more about adoption. In a very real sense, more as the first choice. More as the only choice.

And slowly all of the beautiful parts of adoption started to rise to the forefront of our brains and hearts.

Different, but not less.

Dare I say, different, and maybe even more?

I still struggle with feeling like a broken woman as I'm left out of countless conversations and do not have a shared identity with the fertile women who surround me.

But I am also slowly starting to see the beautiful parts of the way I will be a mother, and realize that I, too, am different.

Different, but not less.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A glimpse into the mind of the formerly obsessed...

As you all know, when you're TTC your entire life is divided into two week segments. Two weeks waiting to ovulate, two weeks waiting to see if whatever you did worked--be it treatment or plain old fashioned s-e-x.

It sucks.

I remember my sister telling me about this strange new way to count time when we first started trying--of course she endured that for all of three months with each of her pregnancies.

The other day I knew I was ovulating. It's pretty obvious. And I had an 'interest' in the mister (trying to stay polite here). 'Cuz that's biology for you--must keep on the path to procreate--the species must survive!

But no, no, and no.

I told him "Gee I'd really like to have sex with you but no. I'm ovulating and no matter what I refuse to live my life in two week segments anymore. Despite our stopping of treatment, despite our moving on to other options, I know me. My stupid little feeble brain will start playing the 'what if' game, and I don't want to live the next two weeks with that thought rattling around in the background, and then wind up disappointed even though I know our chances of natural conception are somewhere on the order of 0.000001%."

Enough said?

I'm not ready for a hysterectomy yet, but really? IF is still has the power to muck up my s-e-x life.

And why, then, am I surprised when I overhear a pregnant coworker making an announcement which was then followed by four women around the lunch table comparing pregnancy stories, comparing how fertile they were (apparently one merely had to wash her underwear with her husband's and BOOM, pregnant!), and talking about their cravings and what it meant for their now school-age children and their food preferences--why am I surprised that I felt tears well up in my eyes for a brief minute?

I just sat there and stared into my salad. I think I cut my lettuce somewhat angrily.

When the topic turned to how fertile their own mothers were--the implication being that it is somewhat genetic--I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "My mother was incredibly fertile, as was my sister, and I am 100% barren."

But I kept it inside. I didn't want to spoil my coworker's happy moment.

But I realized--when you adopt you don't get those bonding moments. It's rare I meet anyone who is adopting or has adopted. OK--less than rare. I don't know anyone in real life. It just isn't a shared experience for most women.

So I just sat there, cutting my lettuce, willing the conversation to hurry up and END already. And so, so happy I wasn't in the middle of some damned two-week wait.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

For everyone utilizing third party reproduction....

OK so really for anyone doing A.R.T.--has anyone seen the HBO documentary "Google Baby"?

The mister and I watched it last night.

We were both left with our heads spinning.

It primarily followed a partnered businessman who utilized an egg donor and a gestational surrogate in the U.S. to have a daughter, to the tune of 140K. He started thinking there has to be a cheaper way...and because in his business much work has been outsourced to India he wondered about outsourcing surrogacy. He found it is much, much cheaper to do surrogacy there (I think $5,200 or somewhere thereabouts, which is enough money to life the surrogate out of poverty) and so he started a business coordinating this effort.

At any rate, the show profiles an egg donor in the U.S., an Indian surrogacy/IVF clinic where surrogates live the entire pregnancy at the clinic, and this businessman trying to coordinate the whole thing (because most of his clients want Caucasian egg donors he coordinates that in the U.S. and then ships embryos to India). In one phone call you hear him take the request for help from a single 57 year old woman who needs egg, sperm, and surrogate and she states she has "plenty of money to raise multiple children."

I don't even think I have wrapped my brain around everything I saw on there yet so I'm not going to say anything else, I'm just wondering if anyone else has seen it....and their thoughts?


Just wow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It isn't LastChance Theology...

Like I said in my previous post, really any one--and I mean preachers, teachers, missionaries, scholars, PhDs and those with a third grade education--who say they have everything figured out in the realm of God/spirituality/religion makes me wary. I'm not calling anyone out here, I promise. I just mean people have to recognize that what any of us have is faith, a belief system, an idea of what we feel that comes from a place very deep inside of us and is the result of a million different things--exposure to life, exposure to different cultures, exposure to tragedy, exposure to no tragedy. Yes, there are written words and guides but they were all written by humans, translated by humans, repackaged by humans and every one of them were humans--with different goals and motives and all of that too.

I'm no different. I'm just one little human being with one little human brain and heart, navigating through life trying to do my level best to love other people, respect the life I've been given, and leave the earth just a little bit better than I found it.

The mister and I most definitely feel that when we finally meet our baby we will say "Yes, she is ours. She was meant for us and we were meant for her." But quite honestly, we feel like we would probably have said this if we had chosen adoption three years back, or five years back, or if we didn't choose it for ten more years (but really by then we'd be geriatric so maybe not!). Just like my friend Gail will never say that losing her twins brought her her living daughter Katie, I will shy away from saying that all my failed cycles "brought" me my adopted daughter. We say that in the end, it won't matter how we got there, or why that particular child comes up on the list when it's our turn to be matched--what will matter is everything from that moment forward when we come together as a family.

As far as God's will on earth--well, if we really truly imagine what that would be like then I think we have to rewind things a few thousand steps. There would not be 6 million children in Ethiopia in need of a loving home and someone to help parent them. They would be able to stay in their own culture, raised by their families. There would not be poverty--the wealthy countries would not waste food, we would not be gluttonous with our enormous super-sized portions and restaurant meals while children starve to death. We would not build bigger houses while others have no shelter at all from the elements. We would not be spending money on frivolous cosmetic procedures while life-saving medications are not delivered to people who need them. God's will is there--stupid humans muck it up repeatedly and then we all have to figure out how to deal with the consequences. And maybe that's our part with our adoption--to give a life, albeit a compromised one, to a child who would not otherwise have had an easy life--our teeny tiny part that helps to right a million wrongs that have already happened that brought that child to a place of need in the first place.

I think prayer (and meditation--the quiet 'listening' phase that is often overlooked, mostly by me) is invaluable. I think it helps us sort out the issues on our hearts and keeps us feeling connected to God, the universe, and other human beings....if used the right way. And there I go again writing as if I know the 'right' way. But I think you know what I mean.

This stuff is too heavy--far too heavy for my blog--and I really wish I could just leave you with a picture of all my Curious George dolls, patiently waiting in the closet of my guest room, finally freed from their trash bags and plastic tubs. But I'm too tired from the running, swimming, yard working, cleaning, baking, checkbook-balancing, grocery shopping day we've had today to go get the camera and snap a picture. One day soon, I'm sure, that picture will be here. And it will be a much lighter post.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sneaky Google Reader and an Award

OK so how lame am I that I do not have/use Google reader? Seriously...I know.

Which is why I didn't know that Google reader caches posts, even if they don't end up being published--or are published and then taken down. Which is what happened to a post I wrote titled "Prayer." Some of you saw it--pretty sneaky sis.

The gist of it was that all too often lately I have seen/heard people proclaim that good things happened to them (IUIs were successful, health was restored, surgeries were successful) because "prayers were answered!" And it hurt my feelings. I do not think God is a baby (or anything else) vending machine--you ask enough or put in enough coins you will get what you ask for. I don't claim to really know any answers on a spiritual religious front--someone who does makes me wary indeed. But I don't think it works that way, and so hearing someone proclaim that it does got under my skin, and thus the post. That's all I'll say about that I guess.

Last night I dreamed I stumbled upon some psuedo-high school reunion and went up to every.single.person and learned they all had biological kids. And I started sobbing and then one of them said "But we had infertility, we understand." To which I snapped: "But you have two kids! You are NOT the same as me, so don't say you are!" (by the way in the dream her 'infertility' meant she had been told she had a 15% lower chance of natural conception, whatever that heck that means). There's much more to this dream but it doesn't take a PhD to see I still have 'feelings' related to my infertility. And it is true...every.single.person I was friends with in high school has biological kids. The 'one in six' rule did not apply to my circle, not amongst old friends, not amongst new friends--which is why it has felt so damned lonely and isolating so much of the time.

OK so now on to the award.For this award, here’s what to do:

1. Thank whoever gave you the award.
2. Tell 7 things about yourself that readers may not know.
3. Pay it forward by nominating 10 bloggers you’ve recently discovered.

Thanks to Mel, at Broken Eggs, Broken Dreams for the award!

Seven things you might not know--well, some of you have been 'knowing' me for a damn long time (from old blog to this one) so this might be hard, and forgive me if you already know these things...

1) I love mid-century modern style. It's the way we've decorated our anything 60s and mod we heart.

2) I wrote my first master's thesis on cord blood banking. It was 1995 (see how old I am?) and that was a relatively new procedure. Isn't it ironic that I won't be able to take advantage of something I do think has value (at the very least we should be banking cord blood in public banks) and spent many months researching in the tombs of medical school libraries (pre-easy internet research--remember when we had to look up journal articles in little green books that indexed them by subject??).

3) I grew up playing the piano. I took lessons for years. I was decent enough, but never played recitals after one where I completely blanked and sat on the bench, hunched over, sobbing until someone came and literally picked me up and carried me off the stage. Today if I sit down at a piano all I can do is crank a few bars of "In the Mood" and then I forget everything.

4) I took the Mister to my high school prom. He was in graduate school (yikes--that sounds so bad doesn't it??). He actually built some of the decorations, since I was on the decorations committee. I wore a prom dress that cost almost half as much as my wedding dress and to this day I cannot understand why my parents allowed us to spend that much. Totally not like them.

5) I let my car run out of gas one time in my life. It was my first car (A Jeep Wrangler Laredo hardtop at age 16--so I guess I was definitely spoiled--see #4). Luckily it ran out of gas at the end of my street. My Dad pushed it back to our house and then said two things: 1) That was an excellent work out! and 2) Only an idiot lets their car run out of gas. Two statements that definitely shaped my future.

6) One time my friend and I were driving back from a baby shower that was three hours away. She let her car run out of gas, despite it beeping and flashing at her (I will claim innocence that I didn't know what those sounds were on her car). We were gabbing away and then all of sudden her car just stopped on the highway. We had to trek a ways to find someone to charge us $10 for one gallon of gas. He said he gets 'at least one idiot per day' running out of gas on the highway so he always has his one gallon ready for sale.

7) I really aim to never, ever eat meat again. For the rest of my life. It's been 2+ years now and I can honestly say I do not miss it. I do consume soy products designed to taste like meat so it's not the taste, it's the idea of eating animal flesh. Are you grossed out now?

Oh sheesh, here's where I fall apart on awards. I'm usually so late to doing them that the award has been passed around to most of my bloggie peeps so I'm just going to chicken out and say if you feel like doing it--consider yourself awarded!