Thursday, April 29, 2010

I know. I KNOW.

I know I said I was going to start taking my temperatures. And I was. I wasn't going to start on CD1, because I was already annoyed, and I was already spending my time doing something far more important and cycle-related (shopping. What, they didn't teach you that in your CrMS-or-whatever-it's-called classes? Suckers!), and anyway, it's not like I've never taken BBTs before. I could start in any time in the first 10 days (maybe 14) and catch the upswing. All I've got to do is take it at the same time of the morning I'm accustomed to taking it. This is not rocket science.

Yeah.

So on CD7 I had slippery...also on CD8 and CD9 (or was that CD8, 9, and 10? Sheesh, I wrote this down, and it's still confusing me). I was sort of in denial, because, hey, my DH comes back (today!!) on CD12, which (when I started the cycle) I was convinced was perfect timing. And I'm just not going to accept the idea that peak day is going to be almost a week early (even though WTH is it I think peak day means for me anyway? High temperatures. Yeah, I guess the concept still means something, but nothing that's affected by his presence or absence), so I didn't start taking temperatures then either. And I could start taking them now, but what do I have to compare them to? A spike would be kinda indiscernible at this point, so...so, yeah.

Of course, as many have commented before me, IF teaches you so many things about life, including giving you a second sight into aspects of the world around you you could not previously see. Through my IF eyes, for example, I can see that Katy Perry is a sage. (Look very deeply.)

She has a keen, almost spiritual insight into the IFer's cycle chart, captured poignantly in a subtle ballad that seizes upon the very essence of the charting experience. So this goes out to you, BBTs (the ones I didn't take, the ones I've theorized about in the event that I had taken them, the ones I've taken in the past that clearly didn't do me a darn bit of good, and the ones that I may even some day start taking again in the future), and, in fact, to the completely insane and severely annoying data that continues to occupy my charts in general:



I think that says it all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

carpe infertilitatem

(assuming it's a standard third-declension feminine substantive, and why wouldn't it be?)

This post has a soundtrack, by the way. Please click play below:



Very good. Now we can continue.

I've been thinking. I know, I do that a lot, and it never seems to have any actual concrete effect in my life, does it? Except that I'd like to note that my recent thoughts about shopping manifested themselves in actual shopping, and that my angst about my decreasing metabolism and not fitting into any of my clothes finally resulted in me getting on a fitness kick. So far I have lost 13 pounds (goal is 15) and I am starting to look like the person I remember. (Although I am never able to feel that I have actually succeeded at something, I think this may be a very big achievement. It certainly took very hard work.)

Anyway, what I was thinking about is that although I am just not of the temperament that seizes the day in large things - you know, drop the legal career and go to culinary school; suddenly move to Paris; donate all my savings to the foreign missions; take two months off and hike Mt. Everest; things that some other, actual people actually do - I could seize the day in small things. And, in fact, I would like to. My DH and I do a fair bit of entertaining and I do enjoy it (though just this minute I am a bit negative about it because practically none of "our" friends have said boo to me in the three weeks he has been gone for work, and I am starting to think that maybe they are not "our" friends at all. They are his friends, and when he is around, they are civil to me so that they can see him. I am admittedly very difficult, and eccentric, and so I guess I can't blame them, but I would really like to have friends who particularly enjoy my company. There are people whose company I enjoy, so...).

However, I have been thinking lately that I might prefer to take a weekend on which I would otherwise waste a few (dozen?) hours watching stuff on hulu, stay up to late, and do a couple of chores - and just hit the road Friday night with my husband. Drive into rural Virginia without a specific destination, pack a tent and a couple of sleeping bags, and just spend the weekend doing whatever leaps to mind.

And maybe, after the group canoeing trip I'm planning, I want to go with just my DH. Which is a totally different vibe than going with a group - in that case, either the activity or the company is compelling. If I go with just the husband, then the compelling reason to do it is to be with him. I'm starting to realize that there are very very few things I do just to be with him. (One leaps to mind, and it manages never to get me pregnant.)

It might be time to go click play on the song again. I'll be here.

Of course there are flaws in my plan. My own sense of spontaneity is far thinner than it might be, and I would become rapidly irritated at the loss of hours in which I wanted to start my long-overdue mending, and do my errands, and clean things, and whatever other notions I had. And I love my dh dearly, but when we spend a lot of time together, there's always a possibility we'll get in an argument about something (it's not like we have infertility or career plans or buying a house or anything to argue about), and then my getaway would just be torture, rather than an escape. And we do particularly badly on car trips (which I can never get through my head - I loved car trips as a child, and still do), because he cannot drive anywhere further than the nearest stoplight without the compulsion to get onward as fast as humanly possible, in the worst possible frame of mind. There's absolutely no sense of enjoying the trip.

Which is an interesting metaphor for spending years ttc, actually, except that I may be worse than he is at enjoying the ride, in that context.

But, anyway, I was thinking, I don't like the feeling of living for next year's vacation - hate it, actually. It strikes me that if that's how one feels, one ought to quit one's job and be homeless and starving rather than spending 50 weeks a year doing something so awful that one spends the entire time thinking about 2 weeks in Malibu to avoid having to realize what one actually does on an average day. Sheesh. (And people don't use the impersonal enough any more. Something must be done.)

However, that doesn't mean I need to fritter away all the hours during which I'm not at work on such inanities that I might as well have spent them working anyway. I could take every opportunity of two days off as an opportunity to live them to the fullest - if I want to see my husband, then really and earnestly do that, not just ten minutes here or there. And if I really want to see my friends, then I should put everything into doing that - not starting at 8PM (or 10PM!), but for the day.

And I love it that my DH and I are so married that we can spend all our social time around third parties and never gross them out with our excessive involvement with each other, but also be very much married to each other; and never resent the encroachment on our time. They can be in my house 'till 4AM. I'll make dinner and everyone can come. They're not invading my space. I actually really like that about my marriage. But I've just started to think I might like to start being ungenerous with our time. He travels so much we just don't have that much of it. I don't want to share him all the time. I want to look at him and think that I want him all to myself. I want to live our romance intensively, sometimes. I want to be, more.

I don't have any idea what I mean, actually.

OK, here's part of something I might mean, or have meant: one hears about bucket lists and we have New Year's resolutions and whatnot (I'm doing well with everything on mine but the faith/spiritual aspects. How disappointing is that?). But I was thinking I need to start over with a different list. I need a list of things to do this year - or to do periodically - that are not spectacular enough to be on a bucket list and not serious enough to be a resolution. I need to make a list of things to do, and do them, that are exactly the sort of things one is not supposed to need to make a list, in order to do. The sort of things a young dating couple will avoid all their other life priorities in order to do on a Saturday, without having to be reminded.

I'm still not making any sense. But you make a list, too, OK?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

nice things. and other things.

So I mentioned in my comment to my own previous post that the HPT I took Monday night (CD2, counting midnight as the start of any given day) was definitely negative. I take that as an indication that I had a 35-day cycle - I was not miscarrying. I will start taking temperatures any day now so I don't have to entertain such suspicions in the future.

Even nicer: I (neglectfully!) didn't post about this the day I got it, but I received a lovely present from my prayer buddy over at A Thorn in the Pew. It was so sweet! She sent me all sorts of adorable things (and so thoughtful!), including a couple of prayers/prayer books to St. Joseph (perfect!!), cute little bags to put things in (they would fit prayer cards...or pills...or a thermometer...maybe even an HPT ;) ), and the most exquisite, beautiful, precious little figure of the Infant of Prague I have seen ever, which is now sitting right next to my bed, and makes me happy whenever I see it. I don't know where you got it, prayer buddy, but it's magnificent. (And all Slavic Catholics have a thing about the Infant of Prague. I remember seeing it from earliest childhood, displayed next to the altar in my Polish parish.)

To my prayer buddy - I have not forgotten you! I have half of the things I wanted sitting on the table in my living room, waiting for a chance to nip out and get the other thing I'm looking for. I shall straighten out my schedule and get that over to you, OK? Sorry I'm delinquent :(.

And a few other small items...my "castle" (the very very old house) has now been on the market over 30 days and is still not under contract. Does that mean they may be ready to negotiate on the price and it will be my house? My DH has expressed continued misgivings about buying a house before he knows where his post-2010 job will be. I guess that makes sense. I did include in my St. Joseph novenas that he would take care of that too, so I have to trust that it's all taken care of. It's so hard to be patient. St. Joseph, if you're listening, maybe by the time he gets back, you could just line up that job thing, and then we could close on the house?

Meanwhile, my mixed feelings on my (totally trumped up in my head) theory that I could be pg this past cycle really got me thinking seriously about the house thing. I have done the math on what prices we can afford based on the goal that we be able to make our payments even if I were making half as much (so I don't foreclose the possibility of working part-time), and that we still be able to save a good bit. But there's really no pretending that we could afford the castle house if I stopped working altogether.

When I realized I wasn't so enthusiastic about the possibility of a BFP, I knew it was in large part because I could not responsibly endorse buying that house if I were pregnant. Under our current financial profile, I could stay home for a couple of years to take care of a baby, and we would survive. (We could even buy something, if it were quite modest.) The house I want isn't a mansion or swathed in granite or anything extravagant like that (it is a good size - 4 bedrooms), but everything is more expensive in this area, and one income just wouldn't be enough to pay for it - not with all the law school debt and everything.

I realized that the plans I've made because I can't have kids threatened to be the plans I've made that would make me not want to have kids. Now don't get me wrong. If I were really pregnant, I might go on with my mixed feelings for months (and wish the BFP had happened to someone who would appreciate it more, and has been waiting more patiently!), but I would love my child, and make any change necessary to take care of that baby as well as possible. No question.

But my conclusion from my house-versus-baby ambivalence was that I needed to be looking for a house that we could swing on 1 income (for a year or so), and 1.5 incomes comfortably. And what about saving for college tuition? We've literally been ttc since plural years before we both had permanent jobs. I have never set up a financial plan that included college savings! (I save aggressively, but at present with almost nothing invested or segregated, which I expect to change soon. If I had kids, I would have savings for each of them already.) Admittedly, my parents didn't save anything for my college (they paid about $20,000 to get me my BA and I paid for my JD), but I might not be ready to assume my kids would be similarly fortunate.

But I hadn't seen anything that looked acceptable (even if more modest) that would cost a lot less. Then the other day I found this:


I haven't checked out the neighborhood in person yet, but I may drive through this weekend, and I decided that if it passed inspection, this would become my backup house. (Pretty sweet for a backup house.)

And then my brain turned back on.

This is the only time I've ever had any reason at all to believe I was pregnant, and only the fact that I had a really long cycle. That was it. And of course I've been super-irregular since surgery, so it's not like that was an isolated fluke and I shouldn't have been able to think of any other cause.

I have no reason to believe that I will ever be pregnant. Nothing has changed from last month, when I assumed that I could use my earning potential toward my home, rather than my time toward my babies. There are no babies. There are not going to be babies.

My DH has said that we should look into adoption more. I was open to investigating last year - until I did investigate, and turned up a lot of details I think are just going to be an absolutely not for us. I have a strong feeling that when he does a little research of his own, he is going to feel the same way, but I have no objection to being open-minded while he looks at things and forms his own opinion. I also have no objection to adopting, in theory - at present, though, my conclusion is that I want no part of the adoption process. So an acquaintance would literally have to call me and ask me to take on some child(ren). But parenthood being a vocation and all, I don't see why it's at all unreasonable to expect that to happen.

Being open to life doesn't mean I'm required to procure children. It means that when God chooses to insert into my life the children He intends me to raise, I will be grateful, and take good care of them. I don't see how more could possibly be expected of me; in my view, that's the whole idea of Christian marriage. This is not meant - as usual - to disparage the efforts of those who are working valiantly toward adoption. If that's what you believe you're called to do, then do it, by all means. I just don't see it for myself.

So, anyway, if theoretically we could adopt at some point in the future, the child(ren) could be below school-aged. It could still be necessary that I quit working for a while. Should I drop my preferred housing price on that basis?

I know that the IF experts say (and I agree with them more than 100%, if that were possible) not to plan for children, but to plan for life. Don't buy a house you would love in a neighborhood you would love if you had children. Buy the house that will make you happy anyway. And I totally agree with that, and obviously, that's what I was doing. (Most of my houses would be perfect for kids, too, in that they've got several bedrooms, and a yard. But I wasn't looking for good school districts, or for neighborhoods with young families.)

But I don't recall the advice including buying a house that will prevent you from taking care of a family. If I make a reasonable conclusion based on the available medical evidence that I will not have kids, and commit my resources in a way that I couldn't do if I had them, does that mean I'm not open to life? Would that be wrong? And if it would be wrong, does it mean that I have to spend the next 25 years allocating untouchable portions of my income and savings to children who are not in evidence?

I am aware that this is the reason I need a spiritual director. But I made what I consider to be more than sufficient efforts to acquire one, and they were stymied. I took the hint, and will now wait for an appropriate spiritual director to present himself to me. (I am willing to, and should already have, put myself more in the way of encountering such people, by involving myself in prayer and other endeavors in the local Catholic community.)

Just when I think that the hard part is just being infertile, and that all the unpleasant nasty jagged suffering delivers itself to my door, ready to be endured in the form in which it arrives, it turns out there are more unanswered questions that I could answer wrong.

Monday, April 19, 2010

poll results: and the winner is (a)

CD1 was Sunday. I'll probably note it as Saturday (because I saw it before I went to bed), but since that was well after midnight, I'll get my CD3 blood draw tomorrow. Can I tell you how much I don't want to get up early and have my blood stolen away tomorrow? No, I guess not.

So it turns out that the answer to the little poll was (a): the misfit's cycle is trying to work things out by the law of averages. That was a 35-day cycle (averaged with the previous 16-day cycle = 25.5 days per cycle). On Sunday morning I realized that I was craving a Diet Coke (what I'm almost always consuming when I consume caffeine). I was immediately concerned - I've had a bit of soda at work lately to keep me awake, so maybe I need to cut back. I've never had a habit-forming reaction to caffeinated beverages ever (or to anything else, either).

A few hours later I realized that the reason I was so tired (and almost certainly the reason I wanted caffeine) was that I hadn't taken thyroid (or my other supplements) in two days. I'm more inclined to forget on weekends (when I'm out of my weekday routine), and often take them in the evening when I finally remember. I took one dose on Sunday evening, but I missed Saturday altogether.

All Sunday I wondered in the back of my mind whether I couldn't have induced a miscarriage by missing a thyroid dose. I know never taking your thyroid could induce miscarriage, but I missed one. And I have been losing weight (11 pounds now!), so although I haven't been re-tested since I switched to natural thyroid (I'm getting that checked tomorrow), my dose should be too high, if anything. So a missed dose would be less of an issue...?

I finally decided that based on the last day that could possibly have been peak day (in an admittedly ambiguous chart), I'd have had a 15- or 16-day LP. (And ovulated late.) The tests I bought were supposed to be sensitive - results up to four days early. I used FMU on Tuesday. The clear negative would logically apply to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but not Sunday. I started my new cycle Sunday. I couldn't be due for my period and miscarrying on the same day (right?). And even if a Saturday test (say) would have been positive, but Tuesday's test was too early to show it, I'd have had to have miscarried at 16/17dpo - that's a little early, surely.

And I've never ever been pregnant, and why now, after a super-weird cycle? Even if the missed thyroid dose was really harmful, surely its effects wouldn't be locked in within 12 hours?

So, logically, I think that's a no. No miscarriage. I'm still tempted to buy an hpt tonight and take it. If I were miscarrying, presumably it would still be positive. That's not crazy, right? I mean, yes, it is. It is crazy. But is it crazier than an infertile should be? Who could possibly never have a positive hpt (and the urine test the RE took last Monday was negative also), but still miscarry? I guess I could if anybody could.

Also, with regard to Dr. L/C's suggestion that I take clomid, I'm going to suggest Wheelbarrow Rider's low-dose amount. I'm also going to ask the doc about HCG instead. I get the impression that that has fewer side effects (am I right there?). And it wouldn't just jack up my estradiol and make my endo return with a vengeance, right? I don't know that it would actually have the necessary effect in my case, but I can ask her what she thinks. I don't want any more tamoxifen (I took five months' worth all told), or clomid either.

The necklace is still not on sale, BTW, but I am watching. I was going to go into the extent of my perhaps too-extensive shopping blitz lately, but now I'm ashamed. Suffice it to say, I let things I need to replace (my DH's blazers that he wears fairly hard; my windshield wiper blades that got ripped during DC's snowmageddon; my sister's Christmas present that didn't fit which I've been trying valiantly to replace - I finally found something super-cute; my contacts, whose prescription is over a year out of date) pile up, and I have contributed significantly to the consumer retail economy in the DC metro area in the past few days. That's the definition of fiscal responsibility, right?

Oh, yes, and our friend the Asian por.nspammer has been reading diligently, and learning a lot from all of you. Behold:


It's almost like I'm performing a public service. If this goes on long enough, s/he may actually learn English.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

shopping

You know how they say if your New Year's resolution this year is to quit smoking, next year it will probably be to lose weight? So I've heard, anyway.
I feel like the BFN post is naturally followed by the shopping post, right? I never outgrew enjoying shopping as an activity, though I really hated malls by about age 21. I'd like to be clear here that I don't shop much. Yes I enjoy it as a purely recreational activity (I note that as many hours I fill with enjoyment of furniture, decor, and real estate, I haven't spent a dime on them since 2008), and I go to the grocery store every week, and every couple of weeks I drop $25 in a thrift store for a cute skirt and a top and something else random that may or may not be a really inspired idea but generally seems to be at the time. But I don't head down to the mall or my favorite boutique every couple of weeks and spend $200, either, and I think a lot of people do (notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat).

However, last night, after I finished my tax returns at 1:30AM (don't ask), I had passed the point at which my judgment is gone. With some people, that's two glasses of wine, and then they forget to stop drinking. With me, it's after 1AM on a work night, and I forget that I have to go to bed. And I wanted to look up this necklace I had seen at Target. And I found it, and it was OK, but then I realized that I could find something nicer for a better price at overstock, and then I saw a necklace I wasn't expecting to need but clearly do (check it out):


And then I remembered that my handbag, while really the perfect work bag and very sturdy, is not real leather, and so the edges of all the fake-leather trim are fraying and it looks really kind of unprofessional even though I don't notice it most of the time, and I should not really be carrying it to work, and I have been telling myself I need to get one that's really leather, but even at Marshall's the leather ones start at $80 and I know that's reasonable but I just can't do it. And then I found one from a label I always really like for $40, which clearly is reasonable, and it's red, and that matches black, gray, navy, and brown, and obviously is what I should buy.

Oh and then I remembered that my brown commuting flats (I have brown and black) are six years old, worn through, were $13 at Payless, and are now chewing up the heels of my stockings, and I found a really cute pair that are really leather for $27 on amazon. And I have a $25 gift card from Christmas.

And when I was looking at necklaces on overstock, I realized that when I head to Austria in May, I'll see my sister, and her birthday will be two weeks away, so clearly that's when I should hand over her present, and I think she'd really like this:


Clearly any one of these things would be totally fine, justifiable, maybe even prudent (the first necklace is simply a splurge, but I could wait until that maybe goes on discount), but in the aggregate, maybe a bit much. So since everyone (especially Dr. G!) had such awesome helpful information on the endo/pill question, I know you'll know - what's the limit on feel-good purchases immediately after the missed period/BFN combo deal?

I'm not sure a shopping post deserves an update, but I would like to note for the record that I now have the world's faintest pink spotting - more like a spot - on CD33. And I bought the handbag and the necklace for my sister.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BFN

Hey y'all, I remembered to POAS this morning. (Sorry for making you wait, Sew. I laughed out loud at your comment, but I only had one HPT left, and I would have wondered whether it was a false result if I had used it last night.) At four days late, it would have been positive if it were ever planning to. (You're right, Dr. G, that I should be counting post-ovulation, and you should see my chart - there's a reason I can't tell. Um, part of that reason is because I'm not taking my temperatures. And I will. If I ever menstruate again...)

I watched that thing for a good five minutes (instructions say two), but it was serenely confident in its result. I guess I don't blame it. Part of me really believed I was pregnant this time - I arguably have a symptom or two (but they're nonspecific; exhaustion, for example, this past weekend), but only because some part of my brain says that a missed period earns you a positive pregnancy test, for sure. And all of you are thinking, well, not necessarily, and the world thinks, if you know you missed a period, what do you need to test for? One more way in which IF is not like reality at all.

On the other hand - and I will not really get into this now, but soon, because I need to get dressed for work 25 minutes ago - I wanted it to be negative. No, actually, I wanted a positive test; I was disappointed by the negative. But I didn't want to be pregnant. I've grown attached to things in my life - material things, exclusively, I realize - that I would have to lose if I had a baby. That's not how it should be; if there are things I don't want to let go of, they should be of more intrinsic value than purchasing power. My housing obsession is a substitute for babies, but it's not supposed to eclipse them as a goal. However, for whatever it may be worth, that is apparently the Lord's intent in my life. I don't believe He'll ultimately stand opposed to me having a house that I really love. He has been very unhelpful, however, on the pregnancy front. I'm not sure how much I can be faulted for wanting the less precious things for myself, if that's what He wants for me, too.

Ah, well.

Oh, yes, anybody with info on the pill and endometriosis, read my previous post, will you? Any information you can share would be so, so much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

need your endo/medicine information!

Everyone pays better attention to medical information than I do. So I need your excellent memories and detail-oriented minds. Here's the sitch.

My baby sister (25) is not married, and currently living (for most of the year) in Germany. She has a rather odd menstrual history - when she was a teenager, she got her period every two weeks. And they put her on the pill. I was opposed to that, but it wasn't my call. I got my endo diagnosis after that. She went off the pill a couple of years ago when she became uninsured, and was more or less fine. Just recently, she has started getting her period about every three weeks, and apparently it's been really bad. She heard from other women on a runner's forum she's on that this could be a sign of endometriosis. (Not that I'm aware of, but maybe in conjunction with running?)

Obviously endo can only be diagnosed by cutting you open, and she is not interested in having that procedure performed in Germany. She's not planning to return to the States until August, and when she does, she will only be able to get medical care through her school's doctors (I assume that does not include a NaPro option). I will try to get her in to a Catholic OB/GYN then if I can, but there are more immediate problems. She does not know that she has endo, and right now she wants to normalize her period. She's not sexually active, not interested in lupron or danazol (I would never recommend them anyway), and not interested in becoming pregnant as a therapeutic matter.

She agrees that, if possible, she should take something that will not exacerbate endometriosis, on the chance that she has it. I asked her about the three-month pill, and she said she has heard it can cause pulmonary embolism. She is considering taking a low-dose, progesterone-only birth control pill. That sounds like a rational option to me - if it doesn't contain estrogen, it shouldn't make the endo worse; and we're all being handed progesterone like candy - it's not bad for you, right? She said she could even overlap the monthly dosage patterns so that she wouldn't menstruate (I think that means avoiding the progesterone withdrawal bleeding by skipping the placebo pills, but I'm not 100% sure). I told her that anything that avoids menstruating will mean the endo is in remission. Am I right?

And will that work? Is there something else she should take? For purposes of this question, you should assume that no NaPro doctor is available whom her insurance will cover (unless you actually know to the contrary, in which case, by all means let me know), she will not postpone treatment until she can fly back to the States, and she has no objection to taking the pill just because it gives money to the contraceptive industry. (I have boycotted the pill for that reason, but I'm not going to argue that she should if her health is at stake. I understand that a lot of IFers are so gung-ho on NaPro that they won't support any treatment option that is not NaPro, but that is not an option she has; I understand that optimal care might be something else, and that's fine for the future, but for now, I just want her not to get sicker.)

I would appreciate any little bit of wisdom you have, and wouldn't turn down prayers for her health! Thanks in advance, O Wise Blogosphere, for all the help you've given me, and which I'm sure I will continue to ask for many more times.

still with the protracted (and unjustified) drama

So, I'm sorry to leave hanging the itty-bitty (and rather foolish) drama I've created. But - and I doubt anyone will believe this, I don't really believe it myself - I forgot that I was supposed to test this morning until AFTER I had already gone to the bathroom. I guess I'll test tomorrow (unless my cycle starts - as of now, still late), in which case a negative test would be pretty definitive, and a positive would appear if it were going to, right? And I will update, promise.

I tried to think of a reason I could possibly be late other than that (since I still am! Which is weird!), and I actually came up with something. I've missed two periods ever - one at about 18 on an anorexic diet and exercise campaign that was clearly excessive and starved off most of my body fat. (And I still only missed one period.) The second time I was 19, and not exercising to lose weight - I walked quite a bit, just because of where I was living. I had eliminated snacks and all sorts of indulgences from my diet, as a matter of good discipline. I was eating nice healthy food (including meat and cheese), and three meals a day - but I had not tallied the calories. I would guess it was about 1000-1200, and with the amount of walking, that was not enough (almost, though). Within a month or two all my clothes were loose (I had been very thin to start with, so I recognized that as a problem) and I missed a period; at that point I added back some snacks and everything was straightened out.

At first I didn't think it was possible this could be happening now. Even after I got re-motivated for my fitness goals in the last couple of weeks, the fastest I lost weight was 2-3 pounds in about 10 days. That's not extreme, I don't think. On the other hand, my metabolism is much slower now, and to do that, I cut down to around 1000 calories (net after substantial exercise) - some days more, some days less. I'm happy with my progress (not too rapid, but consistent), but I guess it's possible I have put my system into shock temporarily.

I want to note that I have not starved myself into oblivion. Even now I weigh more than when I moved to DC in 2008 (at which point I had already gained weight I wanted to lose), and I can point to quite a number of places my body is hoarding fat even beyond what it had in my early twenties (when I was menstruating perfectly regularly), so I should still be producing estrogen and all that. Also, my current BMI is not in the underweight range, and it also won't be at my goal weight - I checked before setting the goal. Anyway, if my little fitness regimen is the cause, I expect all will be back to business in a month (by which time I may fit the last of my skirts again!).

And I guess I will know tomorrow, when I remember (I hope) to POAS.

The nice side of my husband's apparently invincible ignorance on all matters fertility-, cycle-, and TTC-related is that I doubt he has any idea that definitive results must be obtained in the morning, so it won't occur to him that I should have had a more definitive answer by now. Every cloud...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

jury still out: UPDATE: looks like a no

So I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to finish my planned seven days of Easter songs. (Also, I am trying to get a picture of my peep cupcakes but have been having difficulty. I'm not holding out on you.)

DH's uncle's funeral was awesome. He was a religious, and a lot of things about the (beautiful!) funeral Mass and celebration made me think about IF and how he affected so many lives - no children, obviously. It's easier for people (well, some people) to understand how his life wasn't "missing" anything than for an infertile married man or woman, but still thought-provoking and I am sure I shall ramble at length on this subject soon.

For now, though, I am glad to be back in my comfy little house. And I am sharing a small menstrual update (I know, you care):

Today is CD29. No sign of AF coming - no tightness or bloating. A wee bit of emotional fragility but with the funeral and all the people and some awkward IF questions/comments, really not that shocking.

I haven't had a CD29 in...a decade? (There was a year or so when I was a teenager when I had five-week cycles consistently, so it has happened.) In the last year or so while I've been in treatment, the good cycles with the healthy charts were 27 days. I don't believe I've even had a 28-day cycle. I haven't been taking temperatures, so no information there. And I was hoping to get in early enough tonight to go to the grocery store and get an hpt, but I didn't. Tomorrow is my annual exam with Dr. L/C, so I will let her know that I'm "late" (ha!) if I still am, and probably will get definitive results that way.

So anyway, today, it remains a mystery. I offer a small poll (since everyone cares):
(a) the misfit's cycle feels bad about the sixteen-day business last month and is trying to fix things by the law of averages
(b) this is a long anovulatory/late ovulation cycle [I've never had one] and the nonsense may continue for weeks
(c) the misfit has finally stopped menstruating for life, cold turkey
(d) AF is right around the corner - nothing odd about a 30-day cycle every now and again
(e) two months from now, the misfit will have a litter of adorable tabby kittens.
Hope everyone in blogland had a great weekend.

UPDATE: Got to pee in a cup (should there be an acronym for that?) at my annual exam. At which they also kindly conceded that I am over 5'7" (last time they said I was an inch shorter!), and told me my blood pressure was 100/65 (after surgery it went up to 115/65, which is not high, but I was still disappointed, so I'm glad it's finally come back down). I won't say what they said my weight was, because they're wrong.

Dr. L suggested I take clomid next, upon hearing about my irregular cycles. I still expect my next CD3 FSH draw will show that I'm premenopausal, and even if not, I'm really leery of taking more of that crap. Why do I have to be childless and have hysterical breakdowns, too? Who thinks that's a good idea? So I told her I would think about it.

I also told her that I was late and she kindly wrote me a scrip for prometrium, which I'll fill tonight, just in case; they can then call me if the test comes back positive and tell me what to do with the prescription. (While she agreed it made sense to get some progesterone supplementation, every word she said indicated she doesn't believe for a second that I'm pregnant. Not even a "wouldn't that be nice" before moving on to the plan for my next cycle. I don't resent that at all - I like knowing what she's thinking. It was interesting.)

En route home, I stopped by C.V.S and got a two-pack of HPTs. I thought $10.49 for two store-brand tests wasn't bad. (I could have gotten a better unit price on a three-pack of name-brand ones, but I won't use three this cycle and a little bitty unused HPT lying seemingly innocently in a drawer in the bathroom has the power to interfere with my brain waves, inhibiting my powers of rational thought.)

They're supposed to be early response, and I'm 2-3 days late, so I took one shortly after I got home. Clearly negative (even after I remembered about the waiting two minutes and fished it out of the trash). That leaves another one for the "FMU" tomorrow.

Being an idiot, I told my dh (traveling for work) that I was late and planning to take a test. He is already upset. I think I should just have told him after the fact that it was negative, or waited 'till I was sure it was positive, if that happened. He isn't inured to a monthly cycle of disappointment, because he just pretends none of this whole menstrual business is happening at all. He did, however, already request I cut down on caffeine. (When he knows I have very little as it is!) Twit.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 4 of Easter: They're back!

Happy Easter!



Today when I got to work I realized that I had this overall feeling of not-well-being. Slightly anxious and ready to become hysterical at small provocation; swathed in sadness; wanting to do nothing but go home, crawl back under the covers, and studiously ignore the day. I love it how every time I feel this way, it is a mystery to me. What's wrong?! I was feeling so good - it's Easter! It's a beautiful day! I am wearing a skirt that makes me happy! Do I finally miss my husband too much today? Did someone say something awful to me and I forgot? Is this project that I hate just pushing me over the edge? [Almost.]

Uhhh, no. I can't sense what it is as I can with normal physical and emotional experiences - of course you're mad, that jerk just broke one of your dishes. No wonder you feel sick. How many jelly beans did you just eat? Fortunately after who knows how many dozens of stretches where I have frantically re-examined all my life decisions and priorities in hopes of identifying the source of disaster, I finally noticed a pattern. Though it absolutely never occurs to me at first blush, my right reason eventually kicks in to identify the familiar pattern. (Though I still consider it a fascinating mystery why this particular ailment should initially confuse me every time, no matter how many times it recurs.)

Welcome back, PMS. How I've not missed you. So that means...AF will be back by the weekend, at latest? If that late, it will be a 26-28 day cycle, which would be excellent.

We'll just put in on a dark shelf the madly hopeful thought I valiantly refused to entertain that maybe this cycle would be the cycle - since we "used" so many more days than usual...and I guess since my DH will miss the next "fertile" - ahem, se.xy - phase.

I stand by my more hopeful bent, BTW. Even if today I feel like a china statuette in an earthquake.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 3 of Easter: JOYFUL


I promised there would be a follow-up piece to the sad post. Here it is.

Now, I don't know that I actually have revelations (well, in the colloquial sense - not in the "God is appearing to me" sense); perhaps I just get notions and then they pass. But if I do get revelations, this is what they have been lately. They all tie together but I'm afraid the explanation will sound somewhat scrambled. I'll do my best. Ready?

So I've mentioned that I've been thinking a lot about What Next and If Not Babies OK But Then What Instead and How Do I Live This Life Properly and (reference particularly the sad post) Why Am I Not Satisfied With What I Have and How Do I Learn to Be Happy and all those super-important questions that mere acceptance of childlessness totally does not take care of. (You think you're not at peace and meaning and angels singing 'cause you're still hoping, or still mad? Nuh-uh. Even as those things fade there is more confusion and aimlessness! [I'm so uplifting. But the joy is coming.])

I have been nosing about for inspirations - little things that show that happiness and direction are possible, or even point the way. I now have an amazing, amazing, amazing collection of such treasures for you (at least it amazes me).

Item the First: A Charmed Wife

I found Lily's "Charmed Wife" blog about a week ago. How much time did I spend reading all of her archives? You know, let's talk about something else. I loved everything she wrote. I love her attitude. I love her decor ideas. I love her passion for cooking. I love her etiquette advice. I love her total immersed-in-the-moment enjoyment of being a SAHW. (Her blog subtitle is "A little more perfect every day." THIS IS THE ATTITUDE I NEED.) See, she doesn't have any kids. She's a relative newlywed and presumably will have some eventually.

So she's not a post-ttc IFer, obviously, and that would be most enlightening from my point of view. But in my sad post, I pointed out that I'm never happy about anything, never satisfied with my blessings or my accomplishments. There's always progress to make, of course. I'm not dead yet. But I'm never happy! And then I read her stupendously shockingly amazing post about New Year's resolutions, in which she didn't have many things for this year, because her life is pretty much just the way she wants it already and she can't think of much to improve.

WHOA.

And she's not just saying that. (I mean, I could say that.) You can hear it in her writing. This woman is in love with her life, not because she's a hedonist and self-indulgent but because she has recognized what's valuable to her, gone out and done it, and been satisfied with the result. I feel like I just watched someone raised from the dead or something (heh) - this is powerful magic, y'all.

And if she can learn to do this, then I can, can't I? I think Ann was right - I need to identify one useful baby step toward happiness and take it! One thing at a time. I can't decide whether to go first for daily Mass (once a week to start), getting up earlier, or making dinner for my husband. The failure to do each of these things drags me down like an anvil, so they make sense to tackle first.

Item the Second: Mary the Mother of God


This is going to have way more appeal to the Catholic girls, natch. But bear with me - I go secular again momentarily :). So even a baptized heathen like me spent some time meditating on the Passion narratives last week. And I prayed a lot of sorrowful mysteries during Lent. Way back when, I tried to internalize moments or Scripture verses for each Hail Mary (most I took from the Scriptural Rosary but some are my own little notions) to keep me focused. For bead 6 of the fifth sorrowful mystery (the crucifixion), in my version, it's "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your Mother" - Jesus, dying on the cross, gives the beloved disciple, St. John, to Mary as her surrogate child, and His Mother to John.

This is old hat for most of you, but the interpretation of the lines is twofold - first of all, with Jesus's death, Mary has no family to take care of her, which is how older Jewish women lived; so Jesus assigns John to look after her. (The next verse says that John took her into his home.) Second, John, the beloved disciple, stands in for all of Christ's disciples throughout the generations. When he died, Jesus gave Mary to all of us as all of our mother. (I'm not sure whether Protestants sign onto this interpretation.)

So here's me, in a fit of spiritual, well, let's say delusions of grandeur, thinking about this. Most Jewish wives had great big families - that was the goal. Then lots of grandchildren; families to live with, and to take care of them in their old age. Mary had one kid, because her special vocation precluded her having more. Then her husband died when her Son wasn't even very old. Then her Son never married or had kids. And then she watched Him crucified. She had a difficult life. She was far outside the family and community norm - a social oddity among her own beloved people, despite following her God and the values of her faith. And then, she was completely alone.

(Does this sound familiar to anyone?)

So now the things that should shape the life of a good Jewish woman are all gone. What is she to do with herself? Of course she would always live a virtuous life, but every life needs a purpose. Jesus gives her one: she is to be the mother of all mankind.

Here's where I, verbose though I am, lose the thread of how to explain my musings well. The basic idea is that I should follow Mary in this path. I don't mean that I'm to be the mediatrix of all graces - you get that, right? I mean that Mary, a good mother, took care of the Son she bore. But without Him to care for, she was to take care of all of those - people unrelated to her, people older than she was, people born centuries later - who needed her motherhood, although it wasn't biological.

I know we've all seen people, of all ages, who desperately need a mother's love. Some of their mothers are gone, or estranged, or far away, or unable to help them. I don't have Mary's virtue or her closeness to God or her supernatural graces. But I have maybe just a little bit of something. I'm not fit to be the mother of all humanity, but in this suffering and lonely world, I am sure there are just a few people who might need me to take care of them - not feed them and burp them and change their diapers, but listen to them, smile at them when I pass them on the street, pray for them, be patient with them, laugh at their jokes, give them a hot meal, make them feel welcome, or invite them when I know there's a gathering of people so they won't be alone. It won't be easy, because lacking Mary's graces, I won't always see that what I'm doing matters at all. And, lacking her holiness, I will constantly screw up. But I can try.

Item the Third: Samantha Stephens


I told you I was going secular - bet you didn't expect me to go totally pagan! I loved watching reruns of Bewitched on Nick at Nite when I was a kid. (Nicole Kidman was well-cast in the movie version, but nothing beats the original.) Of course as a child I always daydreamed I had magical powers of various sorts. (I know this is not normal - at least, not past a certain age. As I understand it, the explanation is that my family life was out of control - so, in my fantasy world, I was not powerless, but supernaturally powerful. It turned out my real-life super powers ended at getting really good grades, but the world also turned out to be less scary than it seemed and so that was good enough.)

Samantha was awesome. This musing is particularly important to me just because I've always thought she was. If you thought she was nothing special, it won't mean anything to you. But I don't remember Samantha having any kids (though some quick internet research indicates that I was wrong. How did I miss that?). Even though I don't remember the "mommy" phase in the series, I remember thinking that she was beautiful. And feminine. And fun. A good wife - but not a pushover. Had a fascinating life, even though she spent a lot of it vacuuming and chatting with the neighbors, and of course hosting dinner parties. She was a happy person. She didn't feel trapped or miserable or cheated by life - even though she could have lived in another dimension full of witches and warlocks and all kinds of possibility! She didn't have a full-time job like I do and I know she was a TV character, so yeah, she had more time to keep her house clean. But I could do a lot worse than adopt Samantha's outlook on life - not to mention her temperament when dealing with her crazy family. Endora has nothing on my mother. Seriously.

Samantha probably also fits into my train of thought here because her temperament reminds me of Lily's a little bit. Plus they kind of look alike, don't you think?

Item the Fourth: Infertili-beads


I just found this gal's blog. Here's what she does: every cycle she doesn't get pregnant, she makes a beautiful glass bead. (Cool, right?) It gets better. She has just explained that now she's going to turn some of them into wine charms. So that instead of each month of ttc being just another month she is childless, they each add beauty to what she is able to do - have a wonderful time with dear friends. That's more or less what I've been able to do with my no-kids time. Which means that her beads are both the symbol and the reality of turning a lack of something you wanted into a celebration of what you have instead - and, in fact, each month she has no baby she makes into an affirmative gift to her friends. I like that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 2 of Easter - and prayer buddies!

Happy Easter again!



If you can say one thing about the Catholic Church, it's that she doesn't do anything by halves. From Filipinos actually crucifying themselves during Lent every year to St. Lawrence chatting up his captors as he was roasted alive to St. Teresa of Avila being levitated during mystical visions, we pretty much go big or go home. (My current conflicted practice of my faith is a pretty weak testament to that, but I know it's a matter of when, not whether, I am getting back in the saddle. Working toward that point little by little.)

So when we have our biggest feast day of the year (no, it's not Christmas), we can't necessarily pack all of the celebration into one little 24-hour day (though we do try to kick it off right. This year I got to see a friend of some friends received into the Church, and a dear friend had his tenth anniversary of coming into the Church as an adult! Praise God! We put ten candles in an Easter cupcake for him :)). Easter is equally Easter not just during Easter Sunday, but for eight straight days ("the octave of Easter"), during which penitence, fasting, and the like are forbidden. I think it might be a mortal sin to be in a bad mood any time before April 12th.

This year, of course, thanks to the gracious efforts of some of our lovely fellow bloggers, I get to celebrate Easter in part by sharing the identity of my lovely prayer buddy, Kacy! (Help me out, here - am I spelling that right? I think I've seen two versions.) I didn't want to short-change her just because she got a screwball for a prayer buddy, so I decided to say a decade of the Rosary for her intentions every day of Lent (some days I forgot but then I did them later. I got them all, I promise!), and some whole entire Rosaries, and prayers at Mass and communion. I'm going to keep praying for her (I may not remember to every day but I will keep it up!).

Head on over to her blog to check out what she's been up to - things she's been involved in during the past few weeks include finishing up her adoption profile (it was such a treat to get to look at that! The things her husband said about her, in particular, are so touching. They are going to be such wonderful parents!), taking some exams and getting ready to graduate and start her second career as a nurse, and scheduling surgery with PPVI. I pray that the Easter season will bring her and her husband toward the fulfillment of their vocation and their dreams for their family.

I also have to say a very special thank you to my prayer buddy, who beat me to the punch in revealing herself. (It was more than I could have asked that she too loves antique decor! God, you know, He has a sense of humor. And great taste in decor, obviously.) I hope I'm not too much of a downer lately to have as a prayer buddy, but I know I've received a lot of graces over the past few weeks. In particular, while I know it will probably be a long journey, my dh is showing signs of being more positive about his faith, which is so important to me. Being able to be there for his uncle's death was really huge - he was only able to visit for about 48 hours, so the fact that that visit lined up with his uncle's passing was a great grace in itself. I know our marriage has been blessed so much in the last few weeks. Of course I love my husband all the time (and we drive each other crazy all the time!), but we both noticed that we've just been able to spend such wonderful time together lately.

I also feel like my faith has been strengthened and while I think I could have done more with Lent (I'm already determined to step it up for next year!), I feel as though God is drawing me on, little by little, to greater healing and understanding of the cross of infertility. Some day, I'm going to take another tired step up this mountain and suddenly see the valley spread out before me on the other side. I also had a shocking conversation with my father about a week ago, in which he said "I'm so glad we're reconciled, and I'm sorry it was so long, and I know that it's all my fault." Well, it wasn't all his fault, but for a long time, my efforts to fix things were fruitless. (He stopped speaking to me when I got engaged to my dh, refused to come to the wedding, and didn't talk to me for three years.) I had never dreamed I would hear him say those words. I had gotten used to the idea that I might never be reconciled with him at all. I was astonished.

And finally - because it's these inane little things that really warm our cold infertile hearts - today I am on CD23! No 2ww worries for me, since I have no earthly idea when peak day is/was, but I'm beating my 16-day cycle of last month by leagues already - and may yet have a normal cycle!

God bless all of you who were praying and all those who were prayed for. And HAPPY EASTER!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christus resurrexit!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

perfect on paper

I have never watched even one minute of Sex and the City. But I am told that the title of this post is a phrase that one of the characters used to describe a potential date in whom, on the objective facts (job, appearance, etc.) she should be interested - but she wasn't. (My roommate's sister probably captured it better when she said, "You always have to want to kiss him.")

This post has nothing to do with that. (By the way, it's sort of Part I of two posts. The other is related, and a bit more upbeat, but not fully worked out in my head, yet.)

It has occurred to me, one of those clever thoughts that flit in and out of your mind occasionally too quickly for you to ponder and then own them, that my life might just be close to perfect on paper. It's not, of course, that I am close to anyone who doesn't think it would be way better if I had kids. (Some of them would have said that two or three years of marriage without kids are a good thing, while I disagree; but all of them would surely think my life would be more full with children now.) But when I call my mother or my aunts, I have to self-edit my report on what I've been up to a little, because I realize it feels ridiculous.

"Well, recently we threw a St. Patrick's Day party with 60 guests that everyone said was a blast, and we got to bed just after 4AM - so, an early night! And, let's see, the girls went to the most amazing Mexican-Asian fusion restaurant - seriously, the fish was so good, we think maybe it was the sauce - for a girlfriend's birthday, and then a couple of girls spent the night with me, and we all met up for pastry and coffee at a French bistro I didn't even know was nearby the next morning, and then I'm organizing a hike over the rock trail in Great Falls, which is this beautiful park right outside the city border; soon the weather will be warm and I'll set up a canoeing trip on the Shenandoah river, that was a blast when we did it in the fall. And then in May I have a week-long conference in New Orleans and then I fly straight to Vienna to spend a week with friends, and my sister, at a castle right in Vienna. No, I'm serious. Dh is well - he's flying to Copenhagen for work soon, then Berlin, and then Munich. And we're thinking of buying this fabulous nineteenth-century house outside DC, but I'm really sad that they closed off all the original fireplaces - should that be a dealbreaker? And for Easter we're going to a beautiful Vigil Mass, with a schola cantorum, really amazing music, and then we'll have a "resurrection party" with a small group of friends at home, I haven't decided yet whether to roast a leg of lamb. And my diet is going well and I've been running tons, going out to run in the beautiful parts of the city with a girlfriend after work. Seeing the sunset behind the Washington Monument and past the tidal basin full of cherry trees in full bloom - amazing. I'm thinking of running a half marathon. So what's new with you?"

See what I mean? I'm not trying to brag here. Each of us could write something like this, right? I know I get a few extra points in my tale because right now I live in a pretty cool city, so some of the events are connected with famous landmarks (and the Austria trip is just plain cool. I know I'm really lucky. But, I mean, other people go to the Caribbean, and I don't, so it works out). If I played that as the story of my life - "and I'm married to the love of my life, seriously, I never thought I could get so lucky, he's so good to me and I'm so in love with him. And I guess all we have to do in life is go to work and bring home our paychecks, try to be good to the people we love, work on having a life of faith, and plan for weekends full of activities with awesome people we really love. And have se.x. We're working on doing that more, it's been awesome" - people would hate me, right? If I'm interviewed for a magazine, that's totally going to be my explanation of my life. (Note: I cannot think of any reason I would, or should, be interviewed by anybody.) I know I would hate any person I read that about.

Here's the fun part: what do I really think of my life? If I look back at any stretch of days in the recent past, I don't forget the parties and the trips and the exciting bits, and the wonderful moments I share just with my dh. But the good things fade into smallness and dimness in the background, and I see...

I don't think my house has been really clean ever. The scrubbing bubbles worked like magic on the soap scum but I don't think I've cleaned the windows in all the time we've lived here, and I was all set to vacuum all the June bugs that died there out of the windowsill and couldn't find the attachments to the dustbuster. What kind of person has dead June bugs between her windows for - almost a year?! I've been really happy about my diet, but it will be days before I forgive myself for all the French fries I ate last night. I feel disgusting. And why can't I keep two days' fast for Triduum like I did when I was in college? I don't do ANYTHING as well as I did when I was in college. I never pay enough attention at work and I'm slow with everything and I've lost my ambition. I used to become a better and better attorney every year, learning new things, and now all the things I'm learning are elementary and I'm getting lazier and what skills I had are stagnating and in a few years I won't be employable by anybody. Plus I just don't love my job, and why do I find forty hours a week exhausting? It doesn't matter how much exercise I get, I'll never be attractive like I was when I was twenty.

And I never cook any more. I don't even cook my husband food once a week. How much is that to ask? It's like I don't remember I have a crock pot. Or a stove. I bring frozen food for my own lunch! What kind of wife am I? Or a lady! I never wear makeup to work. I rarely even do my hair! And I'm five minutes late - or more - every day. What would it really cost me to be five minutes early? I used to learn new recipes all the time, now I don't even use the ones I know. Only shallow people eat takeout more than once a week. I don't volunteer - well, except for Lent, and I didn't even do that right. I'm so uninvested in the causes that used to be my life. And my prayer life is so bad that I haven't gone to Mass daily - even for Lent, I didn't even set it as a GOAL because I knew it was unrealistic!

I have to admit it. I've failed at everything that's important. My employer is still paying me because they haven't YET realized what a waste of space I am, but I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm not worried about GETTING old - I don't think I've ever been young. And I'm so tired of being tired and sad and a failure and I don't know that I have the energy to fix it all but the truth is that I haven't even tried to start because I can't think of one thing to do that I think would really make it better.

You see what I mean? Don't argue with me about what I'm screwing up. Tell me honestly whether you have a similar analysis of your life. I think a lot of you do.

I don't doubt that non-infertile people often have this problem as well, but I think infertility makes it worse. I don't remember being quite this way before. Sure, I was never quite satisfied. For example, when I was first seriously trying to live a moral life - and making fairly heroic, or at least very dramatic, efforts to get there - I got to a point where I realized that it was not just a matter of fixing all the things that I'd realized at the outset would need fixing.

One day I realized that I had long since taken care of the whole list of improvements, that had at first seemed impossible - and that each day, as I proceeded, I discovered new things that would need revision. Moreover, nothing I had revised seemed like a concrete achievement. It was never completely good enough. I remember articulating then the desperation I felt: I wantedone perfect day. One day when I could go to bed and think, "I was good today" - not that I had done a good thing (or several), but that I had done not one thing worthy of regret, not one thing that was even insufficient. By the time I came up with that aspiration I already understood it to be unreachable, but I wanted it desperately, and I felt it was right to insist that it should happen. I was working really hard. I deserved one perfect day. That nonexistent day became an intrinsic part of my identity. It bespoke my failure - but also my hope. Because I hadn't quit trying.

I learned to live with that, gradually came to peace (fatalism? cynicism? denial? who really knows) with the idea that the moral life is always a work in progress. I believe Muslims say that "even the just man falls seven times a day." Catholic moral theology is a little different - "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," and all that - but I think that the Muslim saying is a more or less true statement of human nature. Christ's mercy is particularly precious because we are going to need it.

So it's not, I'm saying, that I've always been totally satisfied with my life. At different times I've been stressed (sometimes to the point of illness), totally exhausted, depressed, angry, or lonely. My life has not been perfect and I know that. But my current malaise about my whole life seems worse than usual. I now recognize the act of looking up into a beautiful sunset or a magnificent mountainside and knowing that my heart should soar. I remember what it felt like to feel that way. It no longer happens. I remember looking back on a finished task with a feeling of total self-satisfaction. I remember the feeling, and I recognize when I've accomplished something that should prompt it. But it's gone. I don't necessarily think I'm really depressed. My house may be always on the verge of unsanitary and my job performance may be below potential and I may be a lot sadder than would be good, but I clean every week, I have great ratings at work and make all my deadlines, I organize social activities almost weekly, and I get exercise almost daily. I am not in the middle of wasting clinical depression, so far as I can tell.

But I don't have an explanation for where I am. With little effort (and no falsehoods), I imagine I could make a stranger madly jealous of my life, which, on paper, is just about perfect. But I can't make myself happy. I think I should be happy. And I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I don't think it's a matter of ingratitude. I appreciate that I've been given a lot of blessings. I don't think I'm an ingrate, or I try not to be. It just...doesn't make me happy.