Wednesday, April 29, 2009

coupla things

A la Yaya - fragments:

I appreciated all the responses to my undirected musings about the IF-post-baby blogging phenom. Welcome further wisdom.

My dear, sweet husband took my baby seedlings (the eggplant and the peppers) outside yesterday to be in the sun because it was so warm, when I wasn't home, without being asked. Then, as they started drying, he watered them TWICE. (I water them every other day.) I didn't even know any of this. But he left them out all night, and they lost every drop of water, and 90% of them died. I am heartbroken. I have NO idea why this upsets me so much, other than the possibility that my lovely (potential future) garden will not rebound, and the PMS. If you have so little to pray for that you would pray for my garden, I would be grateful. I have been. (I can't pray for babies...but I have unshakable faith that God will answer prayers for the health of my eggplant! I may need professional help.)

I love lolz, and I love sharing lolz, and though, like most infertiles, I can make ANYTHING about infertility, when I read the lolz, I still look for things that are apt. Today, the heavens smiled upon me.


I find this BEYOND HILARIOUS. The pinata is demonstrating about the attitude I usually have.

And hopefully, that is the verdict I will get when I have my sono-hysterogram. Which I have not scheduled yet - apparently I can't just do it on my next day off (wrong time in the cycle), so I will have to take a few hours of sick leave, so I will have to come up with an alternative to explaining to my boss that someone is going to shoot saline into my womb and take pictures. Also, if my cervix hurts afterward, I'm going to be cranky with my male colleagues. It's just a fact of life.

And, I still haven't worked out the SA thing, but I do have two voicemails to listen to from closer-by clinics calling me back about their hours. So that's progress. Except I loathe voicemail.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I lost you!

I was trying to add a nifty new blog to my blogroll and I missed my clicking by maybe a quarter of an inch AND MY BLOGROLL VANISHED. It didn't even ask whether I was sure I wanted to delete, and I clicked "clear edits" immediately, and blogger IGNORED me, and then my ancient laptop had a fit and cascaded its windows (a total of 68 before I wrestled it to the ground - not bad).

I have managed, painstakingly, mind you, to reassemble what I am sure is the bulk of my blogroll. Everyone who has followed or commented, I have. And I could remember people in large batches too (the Catholic bloggers; the people whose names are "The ___ Infertile" or something to that effect; all the obvious categories).

But I AM SURE I HAVE MISSED PEOPLE whose blogs I want to read. Of course, if they have never commented on my blog, they won't cry, and I shouldn't either. But it still bothers me that something might be missing from my four months of accumulation and I might not remember! (I'm definitely missing someone whose last post was "Suddenly - suddenly six months," and somebody else whose last post was "Just checking in" or some such. If anyone knows which websites these are, please remind me!)

Also. I kind of want to write a post about how while I don't have issues with the pregnant/those with small children (I really don't), I am sort of maybe thinking about developing an issue with those whose blogs (which I think were formerly infertility blogs?) are now exclusively for posting their baby pictures and baby milestones. Obviously, family wants nothing more than to see pictures of the baby taken EVERY FIVE MINUTES and a point-by-point narration of the special seventeenth time the little bundle rolled over. And obviously, the joy in a little one to bring home is an important potential part of the IF journey (otherwise it's all complaining - or, better, eventually letting go, but people do get pregnant, sometimes, and then sometimes they have babies, and that's a good thing).

I'm in favor of other infertiles having babies (and then some!), and I'm not mad that they got there first or anything (especially the ones who were pregnant before I "met" them!). But, part of the reason I carved myself a tiny corner here in IFland was to be connected with other women struggling with infertility. That can absolutely include other women with secondary infertility, or infertiles who are pregnant, or infertiles who have babies. But I'm not sure it includes women all of whose blogworthy thoughts are about the baby, and who don't have time or the mentality, so far as I can tell, ever to read or comment on the blog of anyone who is ttc, or even give a nod to the idea of ttc.

Is that wrong? Will I feel differently if I make it to the other side? (Probably...maybe.) I'm not bitter - reading the baby diaries doesn't upset me. It just convinces me that these blogs are not for me, and I should probably focus my energies elsewhere. I feel bad about that, but I also have a pretty strong conviction that I am one of a group that is the least fair in the world to commandeer as a mandatory, one-way audience for the baby gushings of someone they have never met.

Maybe how this works is that a "generation" of infertile bloggers graduates to mommyhood approximately together, and then they really want to read about each other's kids (I have a feeling I'm not going to want to read ALL about babies even if I get there, but we'll see), and they don't think so much about IF any more, but that's OK with each other - and then some unlucky gal who's still ttc will get stuck in the middle of a bunch of graduated bloggers and have to elbow her way out and try to get a spot in the next generation. I feel like there are a few flaws in this theory (for example, what if the mommies try to have a second? Do they return to the fold and seek readership and comments from ttc bloggers whom they haven't read in a year or more?), but it might explain the larger dynamic that I am missing.

OK, so I guess this is a post about that. I've been wanting to bring this up for a while, but I don't want to upset anyone because no one has been anything but nice to me. But if anyone has any wisdom to share, I would love to hear it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

stabbed again; and, EVIL SPERM POLICIES

This morning they took more of my blood (TSH, estradiol again, and progesterone being tested this time). Nasty business. But of my five assignments between consultations - two blood draws, an HSG, sending releases to get all my records in, and getting an SA - I've done everything but the SA. Well, that's more an "us" thing. Because (prepare for TMI - but then, SA is all about the TMI, right?) the principle of being open to life (for theology nerds who are unfamiliar, check out Humanae Vitae) means no sex acts that aren't open to life, hence no mas.turbation, hence sperm collection happens as a cooperative effort, with a hol-y condom (= open to life in theory, not that it's anything like likely. Although conceiving WHEN using the holy condom as an IFer would be HILARIOUS, yes?). Why do I bring this up? Because I'm obsessed with s...no, wait, that's not why.



My RE (whom I love) gave me a cute little sperm sample kit thingy, including a requisition for a local fertility clinic that does SAs. So since that's our last requirement, I finally dug it out and called the place today to see what their schedule was. I figured my best bet was them being open early in the morning (this seems feasible), next-best was them being open Friday when I sometimes have the day off, and Saturday would be really easy but unlikely. Hahahahaha.

Guess what hours this fertility clinic has for sample collection for SAs? 1PM-3PM, Monday through Thursday. EIGHT HOURS A WEEK. Obviously, the fact that we both have to participate mildly increases the factors that have to align in our case (but this place is about two miles from my house, so it's actually not that bad logistically), BUT SERIOUSLY. Who, male or female, can take off work in THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON in THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK to go home and have sex? OR to go to some ninny clinic and leave a sample? These people are running some kind of screwy operation.

Anyway, I called my clinic and they gave me another place to look at - but this time 20 miles from my house; that's not going to work well either since they have to get the sample in 30-45 minutes or it turns into a pumpkin. So now I will be looking at my insurance company's website to see what options there are in the area that do this and then calling THEM ALL to get their hours. Which project will certainly impede doing this sooner rather than later.

I mean, all the hassle for IF testing (not even treatment yet!), and it seems like the administrivia should not be an ADDITIONAL hurdle. Because my endometriosis is not causing these people to have a stupid schedule for SAs. So quit it, already.

P.S. I still want to hear all about your theoretical child. (Mine is introduced in this post.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

panties

First of all, if you're interested, I still want to hear all about your theoretical child. (Mine is presented in this post.) I figure I will eventually go on about it until I wear people down - assuming others are reading in the first place.


Moving on. That Infertile Chick's post about "putting on her big girl panties" jogged loose a memory - it's funny how different things do that. I think Proust had the definitive word on the oddity of the remembering process, so I won't wax eloquent or otherwise here - of a fabulous article. It ran in the Times of London in January 2008, and it's called "Coming to a Bottom Near You: Pantorexia." (English-to-American translation: "pants" or "pant" means "panties," and "big pants" are what's known in the US as "granny panties.")

Just to indicate to you why you must immediately read this article, I offer the folllowing fair use snippet:

People, I’m going to lay this one right on the line, right here, right now: I’m pro big pants. Indeed, . . . I’m currently wearing a pair that could have put out the Great Fire of London at any point during the first 48 hours or so.

This is because I believe if you’re going to do something, you should do it well. If I backcomb my hair, I’m not going to stop until it’s fully 2ft above my head and has to be karate-chopped in the middle if I want to put a hat on. And if I’m going to wear pants, I’m going to wear something that actually contains my entire botty-bot – instead of just hanging around the middle area, scantily, supposedly sexily, like a gift ribbon on a slightly battered parcel.

Really, given just how frequent a relationship the infertile girl must have with her panties (I defy any infertile to tell me that she has never either selected a pair of panties with the day's OB/GYN appointment specifically in mind, or arrived at the doctor's office and wished she had), meditations on the finer points of panties in general can be no stranger to us.

I must say I sympathize with Ms. Moran in eschewing panties of lesser span. I do own a thong (or maybe two), but I think they are atrocious items, crafted by a group of misogynistic S.S. experimenters who were insufficiently occupied on a slow day. While I treasure as amusing and wise the remark of a friend who once said, "I think you can be a good Catholic and wear a thong," and I do not doubt the soundness of her moral theology, my aesthetic objections to them are such as cannot be overcome merely by any moral neutrality. As St. Paul said,

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

I am confident that by "dwell on these things" he meant to include "choose as underpants these things."

For my part, I don't necessarily choose the world's most voluminous panties, but I do try to make covering both cheeks thoroughly a sine qua non of panty selection. Also, I do see a role for a few pairs of flesh-toned panties - they're indispensible for those times you want to wear a white or pastel skirt or dress. (Or pants, I guess, but I have a superstitious fear of white pants.) And though brilliantly colored panties bring joy to my heart, I do try to maintain a critical mass of black panties, to open at least the possibility of coordination with my brassieres. (Why is it so difficult to find matching bras and panties? Even when I go to places that sell them that way in theory, they never seem to match exactly, or the only ones that do match are thongs, or they've sold out of my size.)

Anyway, I would be fascinated to hear the panty-related wisdom of other IFers, dearly bought as it is.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My kid is cuter than your kid.

If you are wondering, have you devolved into madness entirely - yes, and seriously, where have you been? But, as always, there is a method. Join in, if you're so inclined. All will become clear. (And don't forget to check out other people's theoretical kids, linked in the comments to the explanatory post!)

Anyway, I have to play my own game. My theoretical child (the oldest of several theoretical children):


Her name is Anna Valentine Mary [Surname]. I almost wasn't willing to share that name, my name for my first daughter, but (a) I don't think other people will probably want it and (b) if you steal it, the joke's on you, 'cause it's a family name, and I have way more cred with it. Ten things:
  1. She's six, and she's about to be in some serious trouble with her momma for wearing tinted contacts at that age, 'cause her dad and I both have blue eyes, so that's sort of a lock.

  2. She started talking at a fairly early age and plain has not shut up since, and she has to know "why" absolutely everything.

  3. Unlike her mother, however (but like her father), she cannot sit still for one minute together.

  4. As a result, her math skills are pretty atrocious, since she can't pick up on arithmetic unless she pays attention. I'm convinced she has the aptitude (after all, she's my kid!), but I can't even get her to listen long enough to learn division.

  5. Her teeth are WAY crooked, and insofar as she's lost baby teeth and is growing adult teeth, even worse. And braces are expensive...

  6. I may not have been entirely ladylike at her age, but you could see the indications. She, on the other hand, gets in fights with the boys on the playground, and I just don't know what I'm going to do with her.

  7. She loves Mary, which makes me happy, but she has developed an unfortunate habit of interrupting the teacher in CCD and derailing the lesson with questions.

  8. She is an oldest child, extremely bossy, and clearly thinks that mothers are a necessary evil. My mother thinks this is hilarious.

  9. She does not comb her hair, period. This is a rare picture when it has been combed this week. I finally understand why my mother's cutting skills were "so bad" that each trim turned into another bob-length haircut. I think I'm going to start doing that myself...

  10. I did eventually give in and get a dog, but unfortunately, it died when she was very young. Not a day has gone by in more than a year when she has not wheedled for one, and now I won't get one, just so as not to reward this behavior.
Also, a fact about her momma: other than for goofy blog projects, she doesn't share this information with others unless they clearly want to know.

What about your (theoretical) child?

Uppers and A FUN PROJECT FOR YOU - updated

A very, very sweet coworker (no pun intended) brought in those super-fantastic Hershey’s minis – you know, the ultra-thick variant of the miniatures you remember from childhood (adjust age of memory as needed per your current age). I have had [details withheld to protect the guilty] enough to make me sugar-high all day. This probably counteracts the virtue in my lunchtime spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing (ahem, and C.heetos).

There’s a post lurking in here about how the food that my brain thinks will stop my tummy from hurting actually makes it hurt more (in my mind, my stomach is roiling and unsettled. Adding spiky, juicy items, like fruit or vegetables, will make this worse. And if I were a normal person, I would be right! My brain thinks that heavy, still foods, like large quantities of bread, will settle my tummy. This isn’t just because my brain hates me. Its reflex conclusions in this area have been quietly and thoroughly shaped by many years of healthy digestion. Unfortunately for the brain, the boundaries have all been moved. An evening of eating bread until I feel better leaves me feeling sick. A miniscule lunch of a handful of vegetables, and even spicy items, but no processed food, and I feel completely fine. I will post my theories about future grocery shopping and cooking habits when they have gelled more in my mind…).

BUT IN THE MEANTIME, I have lots and lots of energy. This is for the best, because all day, I have to edit a seventy-page document full of dense and incomprehensible bureaucratic writing. I have to find all the typos, nonsense, and formatting errors, and I have to do it by 5:30. And finish another project too.

Having a massive excess of energy also puts me in a better mood. I talk faster (for me, this is quite a feat), louder, and I am irrationally exuberant. Thus, at this moment, the following idea sounds positively inspired:

IF YOU HAD CHILDREN, WHAT WOULD THEY BE LIKE? Come on, if you haven’t gotten to post baby pictures, this one is for you. I arbitrarily declare my little notion open for the next seven days, so if anybody stumbles on this days from now and is interested, they’ll participate.

Here’s what I’m proposing you do (but I can’t force anyone to obey my will. Ah, if only!):
  • Create a post on your blog per the below, then comment here with the link so I can visit;
  • Describe at least one theoretical child – minimum age two, maximum age ten;
  • Share a photograph of said theoretical child (from your baby pictures, a relative, a random kid from the internet – as long as s/he looks like your theoretical child);
  • Tell us your child’s name, first and middle (this will be my best shot at helping to “reserve” names for those of us who can’t hurry up and have a kid so our friends can’t steal the name we really love for their wretched munchkins);
  • Tell us ten things about your child’s personality and attributes (anything from “burps Amazing Grace” to “is in 250th percentile for height as of eighteen months”);
  • If your child is beautiful, smart, athletic, healthy, talented, and virtuous, with no flaws or discernible quirks, I will delete your comment. And when you get pregnant, I'll stop reading your blog.

That is all.

ENJOY THE GORGEOUS WEATHER all you people and if you are feeling terribly depressed and think my mood is plain annoying, go to the nearest drugstore immediately and eat at least 8 oz. of pure chocolate candy. (And screw your diet. I have a stomachache already and I FEEL GREAT. Plus, when your blood sugar spikes high enough, you’ll be ready to run ten miles. I actually use this trick.)

UPDATE: Yaya calls attention to a very important clarification I should have made earlier. Your "theoretical child" need not be your biological child. It could be your theoretical adopted child whom you have not yet brought home (if you already have it, it's not theoretical). My theoretical child is (probably obviously) my biological child, but yours doesn't have to be (should you choose to participate).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

also just for Sew

I feel a bit silly writing a note to ONE other blogger on my blog, but here goes...

Sew! What happened! First I get an email that you've gone invite-only. I immediately emailed to ask why you were robbing the wide internets of your hilarious brand of insanity - a national tragedy! And then YOUR MINDSPRING EMAIL BOUNCED! I already typed this comment once; the first time, I asked, will this comment post? (Answer: NO!) I went back to my gmail and "accepted" your invitation. Then I went to type the comment again. It says that only team members may comment on this blog, and I'm not a team member (what it said last time, but I thought accepting would change that). I can't complain, I have my own blog, I don't need to post content on yours, but if your blog is closed, your email is down, and you don't accept comments even of INVITED readers...what gives?

I mean, I could fill up any amount of airspace with my opinions, so maybe they're worthy of restriction.

On the other hand, I have reflected on the anonymity/comment moderation/trolls/invite-only ideas now and again of late. My IRL acquaintance who identify the state they live in and the first name of all nuclear family members, and post multiple photographs of mom, dad, and all children, often go invite-only after a few months (so, it turned out that showing off pictures of your priceless baby was not a cure-all for the fact that the world is full of sickos. I've worked in criminal prosecution, and I need to tell you, TAKE SE.X.UAL PRE.DATORS SERIOUSLY).

I have been what I think is fairly studious about preserving my secret identity (mwahahahaha). Sometimes I feel silly, because I won't post a picture of my face and I like seeing other people's faces and having a...face...to connect to the...hormone testing results? Whatever, you know what I mean. But then I see someone else get into a snag and I realize that I shall have to retain my secrecy vigilantly if I want to stay in this cute little space (and I've redecorated - OK, minimalism, whatever - but I like it here now) and not have to do some overhauling or face some interference in my life.

BUT STILL. SEW. I don't send email viruses or po.rn or anything. I'm actually NICE! I mean, on here. Most of the time. I think.

Well, I guess I can't be everybody's friend :(.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Singer

Just for you, Sew:


As you can see, it's electric (see the cord?). It actually works. It was given me by my MIL; it had been her (late) best friend's, when the friend was a girl. She wanted to make sure I would actually get some use out of it. I couldn't find the words to explain to her that although it's perfectly functional, I absolutely do not intend to use it - I plan to use the $200 Kenmore that I've had for years and does all my stitching - but the fact that I would never use this beauty to rehem my pants is precisely an indication of how much I do appreciate it. I hope I conveyed to her how much I love it...I feel kind of greedy, actually, because right now my house has three sewing machines (one belongs to my sister and I'm supposed to return it). Even after I return that one, though, do I need a functional one and a luxury one? I think I accumulate too many things.

But I still want my house. Part of me is inclined to think that I think I am extra entitled to have the house because I don't have a baby (rather than being able to justify wanting the house on account of how there will be a baby/babies - my original rationalization way back when, several imaginary houses ago). Because I think it will make me happy. I know, possessions don't make us happy...but is it possible that my house would anyway?

On a largely unrelated note, I have been realizing that I still do have lingering anger at those with children. Not at their children (I usually think they're precious), thank God, just at the parents. I don't want to be angry. I don't want to resent. I don't want jealously to guard what free time I have as my only consolation for not having babies, and refuse to sacrifice any of it to be kind to those with kids because they don't deserve my time since they have their babies. I want this experience to have made me more generous and giving...but it has made me colder, harder, and more selfish. Sigh. Next project...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

in which God laughs

Random points...

Blissfully Unaware

This is the "Week of the Young Child." I know, because I work in a building beset by glossy advertisements of the most mind-numbingly trivial bureaucratic inanities (that sounds redundant, but it's actually not redundant enough). I should learn to get to my office with dark glasses and a cane, because my IQ is dropping every time I walk through the main hallways.

Anyway, apparently we need to "raise awareness" regarding young children and their needs. Really? Given the average level of parenting skills these days, I find it a trifle difficult to be unaware of young children whenever they are present (of course, some families are notable exceptions to this trend, and they deserve commendation). If you feel that your awareness of young children is somehow lacking, but could be enhanced by idiotic knick-knackery, the National Association for the Education of Young Children would be happy to sell you one of these. You know you want one.

Uterine Shadow

I just got a call from my clinic. (You know how I said I kind of didn't like them? I spoke hastily. I like them a lot. THEY CALLED ME.) Apparently, the lab that did my HSG has already sent my results (I am impressed with all of these people). Upon closer inspection, the images still show that an area in my uterus "failed to fill properly" with the radioactive dye. Therefore, they recommend a sono-hysterogram (did I get a test nobody else has had yet? Do I get a prize?!?!).

That will be performed at the same lab that did the HSG. My RE has already made out the order and will drop it in the mail today, so I can call the lab and ask all my questions about insurance coverage and scheduling when I get it. Apparently, these things are done in the week after your period is over (~CD6-13), and I'm somewhere around CD14, so I have to wait for the next cycle; even if I can get it done before my 5/15 RE consult, the results still won't be in in time. But the RE is already sending the order! She could have waited till I saw her, and added a month to this leg of the journey. Did I mention how I like these people?

I'm a Tease

I am. Because here's the point of my cute little post title. I asked everyone to pray that the uterine shadow would be absolutely nothing on closer inspection - without requiring more tests. But I appreciate your wise and kind advice that getting the testing done and maybe fibroids/polyps removed soonest was best. Prayers were not answered on that score, since I need the test (but I appreciate them anyway!).

Because...you know how my FSH was 10.0 and 9.8 in late 2006 (when I was twenty-four)? OK, it's on my sidebar now (or linked from there, actually - I've been doing some blog housekeeping!), so you can pretend you know.

Well, in mid-2009, it's 9.0. Go ahead, read that again. 9.0. If you're not sufficiently obsessed with hormone levels to know off the top of your head, that is in the N*O*R*M*A*L range. And I've read a bit about FSH now - if it's tested the same twice, it does not drop. I would never have dared ask for prayers for anything that huge. It didn't occur to me even to hope - I was just hoping it hadn't spiked to 30.

Thank you, thank you for your prayers. Somewhere up there, God is elbowing St. Peter in the ribs. "Did you see her face?"

Monday, April 20, 2009

sun

My tulips loved the sunshine on Saturday (I just got a sunburn, but I'm not a tulip). Also, the three yellow-and-red tulips I shared earlier are now yellow and white. I swear, my white daffodils started out as yellow too. Odd business. (The tulip below is a solid-colored one elsewhere in the yard.)


They don't so much like the rain. It rained much of today, and when I got home, they were closed up tight, almost as if they were making faces. Funny tulips.

But the rain isn't all bad. Although I am having trouble identifying them since they are about 1 1/2 inches tall and vulnerable to their soil being overtaken by the many neighboring weeds, I think that my corn and squash that I planted outside in March are both sprouting - two or three sprouts of each visible so far, if I've identified them correctly. Even though I planted them way too early and they were beset by the frost and cold!

If I can grow summer vegetables despite planting them from seed a month early and before the last frost...no, it still doesn't have any implications for being able to bear children. But, maybe it indicates something about my life being fruitful in some way. I can hope.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

wellsphere invitation - your thoughts??

I just received (well, just opened - I'm constantly forgetting to check my associated email) an invitation to join wellsphere.com, in their "Pregnancy and Fertility Community" - in the antonyms section of the thesaurus, I'm thinking. Apparently, what this entails is that my content will be republished on their site in various places (I maintain the rights to it), and I get a cool badge for my blog that says I participate (that sounds like fun). I don't know if there's anything else they would want me to do, or whether it's OK that I remain anonymous - I have written back to ask.

I take the invitation as a huge compliment. Among other things, I was apparently chosen based on the frequency of my posts and the quality of my writing (!). I guess the fact that I can't shut up and neurotically re-edit the content of posts if I didn't express things quite right is a benefit in some contexts! (Note: that's why, if you ever go nuts and read a post twice, you may notice that the wording shifts a little in the first day or two. That doesn't explain anything about why my posts still may make no sense, though...)

Anyway, my question for anyone reading is this: what do you think? Obviously it would mean increased exposure, but how much is too much? Will I draw unsightly trolls? (I already moderate comments, so that might not be such a burden.) Has anyone else done this or a similar forum? What did you think?

Thanks in advance for all shared wisdom!

Friday, April 17, 2009

HSG: Not so bad, akshully

So first of all, I'm not in pain. They told me to take 600mg ibuprofen before I came. Clearly what they meant is 660mg naproxen sodium (that's my fertile-to-endometriosis-patient translator working there), and apparently it's working.

At one point during the procedure - when the doctor was threading the tube through the cervix, I think - I was in pain. But just for a minute. Instead of the procedure itself, the part that has fixed my attention is that I had a male doctor. It didn't occur to me to ask the testing lab (not my regular office) whether I could have a woman, as I always ask at the OB/GYN. And when he walked up to me, I was just sort of...surprised. Oh. A man. They really have men who do these things? It bewilders me.

But one of the great blessings I've received through this blogging thing - thank you, blogosphere! - is that I no longer see the smorgasboard of IF testing as a regime designed by the medical community to strip me of my dignity and punish me for my defective womb, without any resulting diagnostic or treatment benefit. In fact, having read what others have gone through, my determination is increasingly just that I will be brave. It was hard, with a very, very friendly Jewish doctor (that part was reassuring, actually), who happens to be a toucher - I mean, the kind where if they talk, they touch your arm. OB/GYNs should not do this! And when (in his preliminary explanation) he said that I might have to turn my pelvis 45 degrees during the procedure at some point, and I asked him whether he meant vertically or horizontally, he grabbed me by the hips and demonstrated. Um. OK. So anyway. But he clearly was very experienced at this, and that reassured me, and I told myself I would say nothing and I would be good. When he said there was a medical student at the center and could this person observe, I said, yes, if the student was female and wouldn't be involved in the procedure. (This is what I always say. It seems perfectly reasonable to me.) Apparently it was a he, so that was a no, and the doctor was actually surprised I would consider it at all. See, for someone clearly transplanted from the nineteenth century, I am open-minded.

So I was lying there, with a largish paper towel still modestly covering my soon-to-be exposed, prodded, and photographed ladybits, all by myself for just a few minutes before the procedure, and I was thinking. First, I offered up any unpleasantness, making sure to point out to God that I wasn't suggesting any openness to it hurting more than necessary just for the benefit of some soul in need of prayers. I like to be clear about these things. Then, I thought about Mary, and how she would be patient and good; and I realized that she would never, ever have allowed some strange man to look at her nether regions, not even if she were dying. But she was ever-virgin. Scratch that. I moved on to St. Anne, to whom I've prayed regarding infertility before, and who ought to understand, but of course, she was of a fairly modest tradition, too (and they didn't exactly have pelvic exams in Galilee. Er, that I know of). Then it occurred to me that the only person who would have seen St. Anne's ladybits was actually a Jewish fellow, which I considered an appropriate source of inspiration. Then the doctor came in.

He was kind enough to explain the pictures to me afterward. Apparently the left fallopian tube is A-OK (this is what I was hoping for). He's going to have to look at the pictures of the right one more closely - maybe it's OK, maybe not. (Another benefit of my many years dragging my feet on IF treatment is that I am totally prepared for this. I know it's badly scarred; it looks weird on every ultrasound - and I have mentally written it off.) However, there was a shadow toward the bottom of my uterus that he said needed looking at too - maybe a polyp, or a fibroid, or maybe nothing. Depending on what the high-resolution pictures show, he may recommend a further kind of -ogram (don't remember which, but I'd kind of prefer not to do more expensive diagnostic testing. Just bloodwork from here on out, OK?).

I have no special interest in polyps or fibroids, as it happens, and as I am fairly young, and already have probably two other unrelated reproductive health problems (in addition to the IF), I would just as soon pass. I thought that the avoiding-the-doctor-because-every-test-invariably-shows-another-potentially-serious-illness was something you didn't start till you were 50-ish. I'm ready to start now.


dramatization of examinations of misfit's reproductive system

Anyway, if you have spare prayers for the intention that that uterine shadow (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of - oh! Sorry, carry on) was just a function of my tipped womb (whatever they call it when it's leaning the wrong way), or a thumbprint on the screen, they would sure be appreciated. I'll entirely cede any health in the right ovary and tube, 'kay? It sounds like a fair trade to me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SPERM!!

OK. Stop what you're doing, immediately. Good. Now, immediately open a new window and play The Great Sperm Race.


I shamelessly stole this from the Angry Infertile's blog. She said her real problem was the cervix. It's definitely tricky (those macrophages were nasty and persistent). I'm thinking what that may be a metaphor for...low-quality cervical fluid? Autoimmune disorders?

In my case, the problem was the vagina. (Memo to Freud: I'm not listening.) I couldn't figure out how to power the little sperm thing, and then I was terrible at steering, and I kept getting stuck in the vaginal mucous and it was bad news.

The cervix was definitely bad, too, though - a close call between the vagina and the cervix. The uterus wasn't so bad, except that after I got all the way up there - way under the time limit - and even figured out that I was supposed to head-butt the right-gendered chromosomes into place, I couldn't figure out what to do next, and while I was trying to figure it out, the white blood cells came up and ate me. (Problems timing sex??? Why am I assuming this game must be diagnostic of my infertility? Then again, why not?)

The fallopian tubes were easy by comparison, except I got confused about what I was supposed to do (just WAIT, actually. Wait - is someone trying to tell me something?) and screwed that level up the first time. Why does my brain screw up the steps even my reflexes are good enough for? (Blocked tubes??? Mentally blocked tubes?)

And while we're on the subject, I have an HSG at 9AM tomorrow. Meaning that I'm not even specially looking forward to having the day off work. My plan is to go running in the nice daylight, but I don't know if I'll feel up to it (and yet I so want to start on a getting-in-shape kick). And my DH isn't even here - so if I'm really feeling awful, I will have to take Mr. Public Transportation home and put MYSELF in bed with some nice tea. Sigh. They told me to take a lot of ibuprofen, but I'm planning to take naproxen sodium (Aleve) instead. And wear comfy, stretchy pants, and granny panties. HSG veterans: what else should I do? Bring a book?

Anyway, awesome as this game is, it could be improved if they would make Round II: Fertility Impediments: The Diagnostic Edition. In that version, every other time you started it up, there would be no egg at all; the sperm would occasionally spontaneously die for no reason, along with all the other sperm in the game; at least one fallopian tube would be blocked; the lining of the uterus would be so overgrown the sperm couldn't swim past it; and several of the eggs would be defective, and would die tragically after fertilization, while you watched.

But it's a good start.

Also, why do they say the game might not be appropriate for children under thirteen? I think it's perfect for children under thirteen. Children under thirteen know way too much about penises and not nearly enough about the actual method of fertilization.

And, because I am a mental case (truly), I played the game until I won. And I do not win video or computer games. (As one of The Angry Infertile's commenters already pointed out, there's almost a compulsion to win. If I can't actually get pregnant, I have to get an electronic image pregnant. Have to.) And then I played it a second time, until I won, again. Amusingly, it's much easier the second time. But just as satisfying.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

poetry

So I was thinking...(you know that's always a dangerous start)...

I was thinking that there has to be a silver lining in all this infertility suffering. For all the things it's bad for, it has to be good for something. For what is profound, almost existential unhappiness useful? Well, you know, I'm almost embarassed I asked; it seems so obvious. Dr. Google (Ph.D.) was particularly helpful here, because he found me something I vaguely remembered reading in college: Roland Barthes's "fragments," from his book A Lover's Discourse.

Barthes - somewhat like his predecessor Baudelaire - had a very specific, rather abstracted notion of love. By the standards of any student of literature who's kept up with his trade, I'll botch this, but the idea was something like this. "Love" is the irresistible compulsion to be close to, to make oneself and one's feelings known and understood by, the loved object; but the process of expressing oneself, in order to know and be known by someone else, means that the lover can't truly or fully know, or be fully known. Even as he pours out his words to draw the loved object near, he pushes her further away, with all his words; his ocean of self-expression, which connects him to her, also creates a sort of insurmountable blockade of self-outpouring between him and her. So he's rather tortured. Barthes, that is.

If you read the fragments, this will make a little more sense; read a dozen or so, and you'll get the overall feel of the thing.

Anyway, my point, which I've been approaching somewhat obliquely, is that unhappiness is, in fact, useful for something, as it's produced some if not most of the best art that we have. (I'm not saying here that Barthes is the best poet in the history of literature. Just that his work made a sort of explicit study of what state of mind makes this kind of work possible.) So buried somewhere in the rather complicated and symbolically rich sadness of the infertile is a wellspring of beautiful, if somber, art. And certainly it is a place from which we, the infertile, can appreciate the rest of the suffering and the tormented beauty out there.

I've thought a bit on my own particular journey with barenness, of the particular quality of motherlessness (my mother is alive and relatively well but, as previously explained, she's never been able to be much of a mother), that fascinating mirror of childlessness. And I've realized the need I have, particularly in this particular part of my life, for a mother I don't really have - to love me, to reassure me that I'm not worthless (don't tell me, I know; but it would be nice to know), and to have been here before, in this dark territory, and know that it's all right. As I've mentioned before, I'm seeing bits of this maternal comfort in various places recently, in my IF wanderings.

I was delighted the first time I saw Pamela Jeanne's blog, a rare blog by an IFer who has stopped treatment, does not have children, and is nevertheless living a life, being infertile; because she is, in that, a sort of mother figure for the relatively new IFers. Not, heaven knows, that she's of even the right generation to be my biological mother, or that of anybody else in the IFosphere; but her experience of having walked this way before gives me, I know, a certain peace. And here, of course, is the poem - a famous one by Edna St. Vincent Millay - with those bloggers who've gone before as Persephone; and I (doubtless like many other young IFers) a new entrant to Hades, lonely and lost.
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christus resurrexit!

Vere resurrexit!

There are few things that I love as I love Easter Vigil Mass - a pitch-dark church full of people waiting in anticipation and maybe just a little unease, lit startlingly by a fire and strident words from behind; the flickering light, faint at first, slowly growing up the rows of the congregation until it illumines the entire church even with the lights off; and everyone's voice straining upward as they sing to triumphal music, "Alleluia!" - the word forbidden for forty days. Magnificent.

So I want to wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter - enjoy your jelly beans and peeps, your smacznego jajka, your hot cross buns, Easter egg hunt, hidden baskets, roast, or whatever warms your heart. As a pastor dear to my heart said in his Easter homily some years ago now, "Today is a day when we can be a little smug in the face of sin," and death, and all the sufferings that weaken us.

P.S. I need to issue another retraction - guess whose "irises" opened just in time for Easter?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

timeline

Ancient History

10/12/09
surgery; goodbye to uterine polyp, five cysts, cervical dysplasia, and most of the adhesions - start one more year (HA!) ttc before I quit forever
 
9/3/09
first appt with endocrinologist, whom I fired when she wouldn't prescribe natural thyroid (just b/c TSH = 1.48 does NOT mean I'm fine!)
8/09
quit tamoxifen after 3 cycles and schedule surgery
 
7/10/09
thyroid panel results - hypothyroidism, but no Hashimoto's

6/29/09
first tamoxifen follow-up appointment

5/15/09
second RE consult

5/11/09
sono-hysterogram (small non-vascular polyp low in my ute where the RE says implantation usually doesn't occur)

5/1/09
colposcopy (no cancer, maybe surgery later)

4/17/09
HSG (one tube open, one ambiguous, mysterious uterine shadow - told to schedule sono-hysterogram to see)
4/9/09
FSH tested; 9.0

4/3/09
first RE consult; told to have SA, HSG; estradiol, FSH, and progesterone tests, & make next RE appt for six weeks ahead

3/27/09
pap results: CIN2-CIN3 (but neg for HPV!); probably carcinoma in situ; told to schedule colposcopy

3/6/09
annual exam; pap smear and the works

2/19/08
"annual" exam; right ovary's cyst hasn't grown, but now 2.5cm cyst on left ovary; pap results come back ASCUS but no further testing (to be continued...)

12/06
second FSH test; 9.8. OB/GYN concludes misfit clomid-resistant, refers her to clinic but misfit decides she hates specialist, vows revenge on doctors: she will not call - anybody

11/06
FSH blood draw; 10.0!

10/06

annual exam - still no baby, sent for FSH tests. ultrasounds show right cyst now 3cm diameter

10/05
annual exam. ALREADY new cyst on right ovary - 2.5cm diameter (ultrasound also happens to show that misfit has dominant follicle. excellent!). also, misfit gets ahead of herself and requests clomid. OB/GYN says too early, but will diagnose misfit as IF at just 6 mos., given history

8/19/05
married; ttc right away (with three-month break to NFP starting about 11/05)

2/05
certifiable insanity in week of come-down from lupron; misfit rebels, does not go back for next lupron shot (to be continued)

1/05
10+ days of brown spotting with period; hereafter, light periods with more brown spotting than red blood (never previously)

1/2/05
in spite of repeated bouts of insanity, future DH proposes to misfit; misfit accepts

11/04
first three-month lupron shot; certifiable insanity in week shot kicks in; $300+ out of misfit's meager law student budget; and hot flashes for three months

and, rocky patch with future DH convinces misfit the relationship is really over, this time. misfit prays novena to St. Jude but says nothing; during novena (unbeknownst to misfit) future DH buys engagement ring

10/04
second occasion of stomach pains (not cramps) in a week; misfit asks future DH to take her to hospital, where after 4 hours they diagnose appendicitis - but then scans show endometrioma the size of an orange! triple-header surgery at 6AM: appendectomy, cystectomy, and the one where they take out the adhesions (or some of them). right ovary scarred into oblivion; adhesions on bladder cannot be removed; scarring on bowel portends digestive trouble in misfit's future (or present). MEAN doctor tells misfit her endo is ten years advanced (she is 22); suggests endo is misfit's fault. misfit knows better, but ultimately decides to do six-month regimen of lupron
pre-10/04
blissful innocence

Thursday, April 9, 2009

new life

These pictures are actually from Sunday. But, as they clearly demonstrate, at least the seeds I planted inside are germinating fruitfully (or vegetablefully). I have somewhat diminished hope that the outdoor seeds will germinate ever, but at least, if they don't, I can plant more. Meanwhile, indoors in the big pots, the basil are outpacing the rosmary. Here's a closeup in which you can see a bunch of (itty) basil shoots:


In the muffin tins in which I temporarily planted the eggplant and peppers, the eggplant seem to be winning. Here's the biggest of the bunch (as of Sunday):


Also, I have to issue a retraction about my daffodils. I do have three colors, but they actually are: (1) bright yellow/bright yellow (the kind you're used to seeing); (2) light yellow/bright yellow trumpets (the kind you may have seen, but less often); and (3) white/white. Seriously - lily-white. Don't believe me? Today, I figured out what camera setting doesn't wash them out (that would be "landscape"):


And lest you become too impressed with my exotic daffodil colors, my next-door-neighbor the gardener has all of these colors, PLUS light yellow with orange-edged trumpets, and white with orange-edged trumpets. I kid you not - daffodils come in these colors. This isn't one of his, but here's a picture from teh interets to prove it:


(Actually, in looking for that last photo, I discovered that there are far more varieties of daffodils than I had realized.)

Also, I had my first blood draw today. I realized just two days ago that CD3 was fast approaching, but where I might previously have thrown my hands up in despair, I was good - yesterday I made phone calls, found the nearest lab, called to get their hours and insurance status, and called the insurance company to check my coverage. I didn't want to take time off, remember, but I didn't have to - they open at 6:30. I walked in at 7, did my paperwork immediately, walked right into a room, waited three minutes, was VICIOUSLY STABBED WITH A NEEDLE, and walked out about 35 minutes after I walked in. There was ample parking. The lab was easy to find. They had free water (very necessary). The parking garage even takes credit cards. I could do this more often.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

actual brevity

So it occurs to me I should have posted my omnibus rant in separate sections - it's RIDICULOUSLY long. I'm stricken with guilt. Fortunately, no one actually has to read it.

By way of atonement, I offer the following small items to the bloggy world.

First of all, if you live in the DC area, or are shopping for a house (let alone both), you may find this blog as fabulously fun reading as I have.

Second, I'd like to think that I generally am not affected by the things four year olds would laugh at. But I could watch this for hours:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Omnibus Blog

It's now been several days plus I had my RE appointment and some major - well, maybe they're minor but important - realizations that have been crystallizing. I want to get all of them out here, but there are several, so I will try to be brief, though it just doesn't come naturally. Also, I note that this is religious in focus off and on (see immediately below), since my faith-related insanities are wound so tightly with my IF madness.

Part I: In Which the Misfit Is Angry with God

If I haven't said this explicitly in a previous post, I know it's between the lines. I realized somewhere in the recent past that I'm really angry with God. I've written about the baby rage - the suppressed anger beneath the in-control surface that takes over like an evil monster on slim provocation. Which means there's a real anger. That's anger with myself - for being defective; and for being unable to accept my situation with humility and grace - and anger with God. I took a demanding job in a law firm (which I've since left for a much better situation) as revenge against God, and against fate, for not being able to get pregnant and start the rest of my Great Plan (in which I would not have been able to work full-time). Outside the revenge, that job was also motivated by the fact that I couldn't stand to care most on earth about something at which I was a failure. I needed to pour out my energy elsewhere, toward something at which I could be a success. (Of course, though I didn't foresee it, this manner of thinking led to me slowly redefining the way I saw myself.)

That was easy enough to figure out. What I also learned was that, though I was really angry in general, more than angry with God, I was hurt. I had trusted Him, and I believed - not in an "I thought about it and came to this conclusion" sort of way, but instinctively, in my heart - that He had betrayed my trust by doing something unnecessary to hurt me. I know a lot of Christians will simply say that it's invalid to believe God is wrong or has betrayed us - it only works the other way. I agree with all the theory behind this conclusion (i.e., he's perfect and omniscient, and wants what's best for me; I don't know what I'm talking about). But, I wasn't hurt as a matter of policy. I was (am?) genuinely, spontaneously, and unaffectedly emotionally wounded. I don't trust a lot of people enough to let them hurt me, and this really hurt.

And I responded in exactly the way that I would with a dear friend who had hurt me - I created distance so He couldn't hurt me again. I just could not bring myself to pray for children. Even right this minute, I can't imagine getting those words out. I've tried to find ways to work around it - things I could ask for instead; like a healthy outcome for testing, or a clear idea of what direction I should take for my life, and an openness to that idea. (That's been my prayer every day during Lent.) Even after I figured this one out - which was kind of an epiphany - I hardly have a ready-made solution.

Part II: In Which the Misfit Realizes What Was Really Taken Away

At some point I realized that the stock way I would frame my reason for being angry or hurt ("God decided I wouldn't get to have children") was not maximally accurate. I know - and in many ways admire - the women I've encountered out here in the IFosphere whose real and powerful desire is for a child - to love, to nurture, to raise and care for. They want a baby. It's easy to think I want a baby too, but I've started of late to get the idea that maybe I don't. I've certainly said as much in some recent posts.

More than to be pregnant or have a child, I want not to be unable to get pregnant. This is almost as silly as it sounds - the only way at this point to know that I can get pregnant/am not infertile (except that I am infertile. Even if I had ten kids, that diagnosis is solid, and it will, as so many have said before me, always be part of who I am) is to be pregnant, and therefore have a child. So it sounds like making an irrelevant distinction, but emotionally, at least, it's accurate. It's not that I'll die without a baby - it's that the weight of the IF feels like it's going to bury me. Make sense? No? Well, moving right along.

I also realized that what God did to hurt me was not, strictly speaking, taking away the babies. It was two things. First, it was taking away any idea of where my energies should go in life. Now, I've miscalculated about my future direction before. Usually, I notice that I'm headed the wrong way when I feel increasingly unsettled. And usually, at the same time, there's information (even if I don't want to see it) about which way I should be heading instead. In this case, I feel as though there's a gaping black hole where my future's supposed to be. Practicing law is not going to be reason enough to get up in the morning every morning for the rest of my life. (Adoption is something I really, really don't want to do - maybe that means it's what I should be doing. Who knows.) So God took away from me something He just plain isn't allowed to take away - a vocation. No one is here without a purpose, and He stole mine and left nothing in its place, and I have no earthly idea what to do with that.

I have also toyed with the notion that maybe why I want babies so much is because my childhood was kind of taken away, and that by raising a loving and loved family, I can restore some of what's missing (not by being "friends" with my kids instead of their parent, but by being part of a loving and functional and life-filled and happy home. Crazy? Maybe...).

Second, God betrayed my whole idea of the framework of the universe because he punished me for being good. Wise and mature Christians know that a just God is not a good thing - because they have fallen short so often and are in need of mercy. Of course, I fall short as much as the next person if not more, and could use plenty of mercy myself. But I'm not inclined to want it. Maybe because of the no-unconditional-love thing, I tend to believe that I should have exactly what I earn, no more, no less. So I want a just God. And I was a very impressive college student and law student. I had a promising career ahead of me. I could have made a lot of money and had a great resume. But all I wanted was to stay employable enough to work part time to save some college money for the babies, stay home, make dinner for my husband, keep my house neat, and take care of my babies. All the selfish things that make it hard to be a mom I intended to give up before I ever even had them. I had good priorities and good values, and while it would have been totally fair to give me challenges - a sick kid; money being tight; whatever - it was absolutely not fair to take away the good thing for which I was willing to sacrifice the empty things. I don't know what to do with an unjust God. Which circles back to Part I above.

All of this does mean, though, that at least I should focus on what I'm mad about. I'm not mad that I don't have kids, and when I yell at God, I shouldn't yell about that. I should yell about the real problem. And it makes it easier not to hate the pregnant and those with kids - I was not-hating them by treating children as a condition affecting only other people, in order to protect myself; but from this perspective I can realize that they're just not hurting me. They don't have anything I want. They have kids; I want a purpose in life. They're not my problem.

Part III: In Which the Misfit Improves, Slightly

You know what, about blogging? The rage has actually subsided a little bit. I used to notice it especially when grocery shopping - if someone cut me off, with a car or a cart, this great slavering demon of rage would suddenly appear from nowhere and it would take all my self control not to yell horrible things at perfect strangers who were merely distracted or dumb, not evil. Now, at least a lot of the time, someone will do something dumb, and I find myself smiling - not through gritted teeth, but patiently and indulgently. I haven't felt that way in a long time. I should note that I am still easily irritated, but that's irritation - not the monster of rage taking the irritation as an excuse to try to go on a killing spree in the grocery store.

In the same vein, I now look at strangers in public places and see human beings, not just aliens who cut me off in traffic. Instead of just hating the outfits of other women in the checkout line, I notice someone agonizing over the same cereal decision I try to make every week, and I smile at them. Not every day, but it's progress. Also, when my previous OB/GYN office was ABSOLUTELY SUPER about IMMEDIATELY sending over my records when I called so that they were there for my Friday appointment, I was on cloud nine. I got the name of the records department gal and sent her a thank-you note, addressed to her work, so they could read what a great person she is. I occasionally think happy thoughts, but they pass quickly, and the dark ones linger. I need to give the happy ones more air time.

Anyway, I attribute this improvement to the blogging. It's gotten me in touch with other people who are suffering with the IF too, and in a way that I can't explain and is almost magical, it has lightened the burden on my heart just enormously. My husband is so good and patient about listening, but at a certain level of negativity, I think he just feels attacked and can't listen; he tries to argue about why my perspective is wrong, and I just want him to listen, and I yell, and it helps neither of us. But the other IFers understand, and have seemingly endless patience for my insanity (or they can just read something else). And also the blogging about it has kept it on my mind, and given me a reminder to work through it steadily, and that's helped me get some of this on the surface.

Part IV: In Which the Misfit Negotiates a Compromise with the Evils of Medicine

Of course, I had my RE appointment on Friday. I was prepared to hate this woman. (An RE, especially a Catholic RE, is the face of the evil IF I have been struggling against - and losing. The poor woman. Also, amusingly - the DH apparently realized that I was prepared to hate her, and, when I said the appointment went fine, deduced that I didn't. Who says they can't read our minds?) But I don't hate her. She's about 55ish, just a smidge younger than my mom, with maybe similar coloring to the women in our family. She was confident. She was competent. She was perceptive. She was upbeat. And she was matter-of-fact about what's wrong with me. So many medical professionals seem like their goal is to alarm me. I am already alarmed, OK? But she's an IF specialist, so, you know, it's all normal to her.

You know what's interesting about that? I sort of felt like it was trusting my mom. I might still have hated a competent 35yo specialist, but this woman is close to my mom's age. I had already noticed that I was getting a sort of maternal vibe from Toni Wechsler and Taking Charge of Your Fertility - not because her tone is maternal (it absolutely isn't), but because I guess some sort of reassurance and wisdom and a feminine voice about IF is something I need from some sort of maternal, er, force, and I don't have that available in the natural realm (mom can't really provide that), and I didn't realize I needed it until I realized I saw it in the book. Weird, huh? It's not judgmental to have an approximately menopausal woman who has been there and done that show you the ropes on a difficult journey she's been through. It doesn't make me a failure; I just need a hand. Do I ever.

She ordered a battery of hormone level tests, plus an HSG (I know it sounds nutty, but I've never had one) and an SA. My homework is to polish them off in six weeks, and make an appointment for the end of that time. I was kind of daunted by them and we've been entertaining all weekend, so I am planning to dig them out tomorrow, put them all on the calendar, and make that appointment (and maybe try to move up the colpo). They're all out-of-pocket, I believe, so I need to ask the lab what the prices are.

Of course, as will be obvious, this will be a lot of information I don't have. I'll know whether the DH is even capable of having kids. I'll know whether my tubes are open - if they're totally closed, I need surgery or nothing else will help. I'll know whether I'm progesterone deficient and maybe I can take something that will normalize my PMS (and maybe lose me five pounds!), and maybe even help with the IF. I'll know whether my FSH has gone from 10 to 30 and it's time to schedule that celebratory hysterectomy. And it's all in a manageable period - I'm not impatient, because I've got a lot to do in six weeks, but there's a date on the horizon when I'll have my bearings a little more.

Oh yes, and also, she managed to make the FSH=10 (er, in 2006) seem much less upsetting. She pointed out that it might be pre-menopause - or not; it strictly means low ovarian reserve, but that could be caused by other things, and it doesn't mean I can't get pregnant. That it might not be a sign of impending menopause hadn't occurred to me. And since I've heard that low reserve means low quantity, not low quality, well, with the endo, my days are numbered anyway. I'm frankly insisting on a rapid treatment period because I am weary of IF, so an ovular expiration date is OK with me.

Part V: In Which the Misfit Makes Friends

Oh, did I mention I sort of stumbled onto more women to spend time with? It's true. I went on a way-fun all-girl hike last weekend that I really enjoyed, and spent today with another married couple and one of the other girls. Great people. The wife in this married couple is the other IFer I mentioned before. Sometimes it's hard for me to talk to her because she seems so serene I almost get angry. Nobody takes everything at face value and is totally unupset by this. Last night she was over at my house and something or other came up, and I mentioned my book and suggested she might like it.

I asked if she'd looked into local Catholic Charities (given the results of my research), and to my surprise, she hadn't. Then she said something that shocked me - that she wasn't really sure she was ready to adopt either (I thought she was planning to the minute she got her diagnostic "no"), and that she, like me, had always thought before IF that she'd just adopt a big family if she couldn't have one, and that she felt completely different now, and nobody could really understand IF until they'd been through it - and that she was exhausted by the burden too. (To which I responded that if I didn't get a definite answer, I could be here almost thirty years [started ttc at 23, average menopausal age 51], and I just wanted my life back.) It meant a lot to hear from someone IRL the same things I've been feeling, that I'm not evil or crazy or just a bad Catholic for struggling with this.

Part VI: In Which the Heavens Smile (Briefly) upon the Misfit

On Saturday morning (this has been a packed weekend), the DH and I attended a retreat thingy. It was pretty much presentations, not like personal prayer time or meditations, and though I probably need the latter more, it was still valuable. I have been sort of keeping an ear out recently for something that sounded like a message for me, just something that struck me. Snippets from the psalms - sometimes about hope, mostly about suffering - have resonated with me, but yesterday, I one of the speakers was particularly engaging. The fellow had a fabulous, natural gift for public speaking - not eloquence necessarily, just clearly at home in the environment, engaging, comfortable, graceful.

He referred to a passage from St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica of which I'd never previously heard (I'm not claiming I've read it all, but some decent chunks). It's Question 83, Article II:

...for we do not pray to alter the divine plan, but to obtain what God has arranged to be fulfilled by prayers, "to the end that men by asking may deserve to obtain what God Almighty before all ages has arranged to give them," as Gregory says.

God gives us many things out of His liberality without our asking; but some things He wills to give us only on condition of our asking; which arrangement works to our advantage, teaching us to have recourse to God with confidence, and to recognize Him for the author of our good.
(It goes on to explain that sometimes God chooses to delay fulfillment of our prayers to teach us greater trust and patience.) Anyway, I think I had a decent understanding of petitionary prayer (i.e., praying to ask God for things you need) in general, but I didn't have it worked out this clearly in my head. We can't change God's mind by praying...but praying still matters, because there are some things that He won't give us unless we ask. This makes good sense, no?

So that means...that my reaction on discovering in December 2006 that I did not want outlandish treatment, God would get me pregnant if it was His will that I have kids, I would pray a novena for a baby and, absent prompt answer (even a year later - I was pretty patient, for me) to that prayer, I would stop praying altogether, because why ask for something God doesn't want to give me - it will do no good, I'll get madder at God, and it's impious to pray for things we aren't meant to have - well, that may not have been the most sensible reaction, perhaps.

Maybe God does have blessings for me - the desire of my heart, once upon a time - that are waiting, that He is willing to grant me. And I should have the trust to ask him. (I don't resent it, BTW, if God merely saw fit to delay children until the appropriate time. I really wanted kids immediately, but I can see strong arguments for the benefits of waiting in our case. I'm only paralyzed by the idea of no children and family at all.)

So while I still can't quite summon up the gumption to pray for a baby, I can see where it could be a good idea, and I'm open to considering it, and I'm going to tuck that in my back pocket and think on it until I'm ready. Meanwhile, the DH and I have a holy condom* and some semen to collect (maybe not this particular evening, though, it's late)...good night, y'all.

*This is not a technical term, but I've heard other people slip and say it and I think it's hilarious. Because of the Catholic rule about all sex acts being open to life, one can't collect the semen through acts that are, well, not ordered to making a baby. So you use a condom - without spermicide, of course - and you poke a hole in it (or, in this case, the clinic does for you). Still open to life; but you'll get enough sperm for the test. Apparently the labs think it's weird. I can't argue - but the typical method is a whole lot weirder IMO.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CONFLICTED (no, not impatient any more)

Reasons My Body Is Defective, Also Infertility Is Crap

So I did lots of reading in my book. Then I did some reading on teh internetz. First, I was optimistic that I have low progesterone (I do have quite a few symptoms for that). I figured that could be treated. Then the system could rock back to balance, and the IF might be taken care of. (Note I did NOT say I would get pregnant. We are not interested in pregnancy around here...we are interested in not being sick or defective any more. Thank you.)

But it seems that I can't find anyone who says that taking progesterone could lower slightly elevated FSH levels. Other than the Eastern Medicine folk who say you can lower your FSH by taking supplements and avoiding sugar (if I do this, it will not work, and I will be angry about the self-deprivation. I'm fine with fasting for religious reasons, exercise, and dieting in some applications, but moral judgments about how I'm destroying my vocation because I ate a cracker - no. I did anorexia part-time in college [and I don't want to hear it about the killing of my eggs, 'cause I didn't], and NO MORE with the food crazies, is all I have to say. It's bad news). Everyone seems to be agreed that slightly elevated FSH levels for more than one month mean late-end of your fertile years, a little higher is premenopause, then perimenopause - bad news, no ifs, ands, or buts. So I'm absorbing that. Not happy, but, you know, I'm going to insist on some more bloodwork. And we'll see.

Also, and I am about to lash out in hysteria over this, I JUST realized I forgot to send the medical information release form to my old OB/GYN for my appointment Friday. I'm going to call both offices tomorrow and see whether I can do the whole transfer of records thing by scans and email, but already I have lurid visions of my current clinic asking me to spell "email" and explain why I would assume they have a computer in the office. I kind of don't like them, I think, but I'm not making up my mind 100% yet, because I could either love or hate the specialist. Anyway.

This I'm definitely mad about, though: I have a consent form because I asked for one specially, long before my appointment (I actually asked for it in conjunction with my annual). No way the nurse gal remembers that I have it. And did they ever ask me to make sure I sign a release (let alone notice that they do not have records for me)? No, they did not. My previous clinic had me sign it while I was standing there, of course, 'cause they actually practice medicine there, or something. Seriously. Patients don't think about things like medical releases. The clinic staff are supposed to remember all that, right? So, anyway, remind me tomorrow, or something, that my highest priority for the day is to call the clinics - repeatedly, if necessary - and persuade them that they can, too, give me their double-secret email addresses, and do something immediately rather than waiting a month. Or not doing it at all.

By the way, did I mention that I am ragingly PMSy right now? It's crazy. I'm depressed and upset. About everything - you know the drill. But right now I am convinced the clinics will both be evil about the records and mock me and then on Friday the specialist will say termites ate my reproductive organs, and I will go on a killing spree. It could happen.

And Adoption Is Stupid Too

So, I was busy having the Week of Too Much Information (when I have tried for so long to protect myself from the ravages of information - any information), so I looked online to see what Catholic Charities does with adoption. The Archdiocese of Baltimore apparently gets into it in a big way, and Baltimore is driveable. I started reading. I tell you what, that the minimum age you can be before they'll consider you is 25 - it made my heart glad. Maybe I'm not a dried-up old hag yet, you know? And you have to have been married at least three years. We're going on four. Maybe that's not forever without kids.

But I read some other things too. First of all, you can't specify the gender of your child, unless you have exactly one other (and then you can only pick the opposite, I think). I mean, that's not horrible, since you can't do so in nature, either, but what, do they assign you a child? Drop it on your doorstep and arrest you if you don't take it in? Because correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the adoptive parents had to approve the adoption too. And while they'd figure it out if you happened to reject all the boy babies, don't you get to have an opinion?

They do international adoption with Russia and Eastern Europe, which is appealing, because I'm Polish. But those are the only European countries (er, areas. Actually, why "Eastern Europe" but not "Asia"? They specified Korea and China. Why does everyone think all white people are fungible?) from which they adopt, so I'd be picking only the white babies. I'm sure they love that.

Anyway, that's not what severely irritated me. Nor was the fact that they won't take you if you're currently in the process of infertility treatments - but the only reason I'm not livid about that is because I already had read about that on someone else's blog, so the shock has worn off. What made me angry is that they will not adopt to you unless you're infertile. You can have one child of your own - but that's it. They come right out and explain this as a demand issue - they have to allocate a scarce resource. I recognize that this philosophy actually favors me. I'm young. I'm married. I have a pretty good job. I'm healthy - well, my reproductive system is a writeoff, but once I get rid of that, I should keep running forever. I don't have ANY KIDS!!!

But it makes me really angry, because, well, who are they to make these decisions? And presumably this means that if by some miracle you get them to part with two babies, you just can't adopt a third. Can somebody tell me what is so Catholic about having either one or two, but under no circumstances three or more, children? I've always wanted a big family and I'm never going to have one. So I guess I should get kicks out of other people being denied one too, but actually, I don't. Have these people read the Catechism? No? Well, I'll fill you in.

Memo to Catholic Charities of Maryland:

BOTH having large families AND adoption are defined as "heroic" (meaning, virtuous, but not morally required) in the Catechism and JPII's writings. They come, of course, from exactly the same virtuous habit - openness to life, which is an aspect of charitable love and generosity. You want the people who adopt your wretched little orphans to be all about life, family, babies running around, abundance, joy, self-gift. But you have regulations that say they can have exactly one boy and one girl, presumably so they can have a three-bedroom house close to the city, send the assigned children to private school, and buy them each an SUV at sixteen.

If those are your values - go for it. Do what you believe is right. Seek the truth always, and act wholeheartedly on a clear conscience. But even people living under rocks know those aren't Catholic values. Seriously, who in heaven's name are you people? EVEN THE REPLACEMENT RATE IS MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN.

Love and kisses,
the misfit

But Infertility Is Still Worse

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. If I have lots of blood tests, I have to take off work constantly, don't I? I'm actually just not willing to do that - even for (fictional) kids (who only happen to other people) - because I refuse to be barren and ridiculous and sad.

Well, maybe the urgent care facility nearby can do all my blood draws at 6AM, or something.