Saturday, October 30, 2010

shopping

This seems like the logical follow-on post to CD1, yes? Although that post could also have been entitled, "Chocolate." Specifically, an entire bag of miniature Butterfinger bars, most of which I managed to polish off just on Thursday evening. Um, while watching four episodes of Hell's Kitchen in a row and otherwise playing on the internet. Some time during the first episode, I actually started laughing and realized I was in a good mood for the first time all day. So I kept watching until it was after 4AM and I was near collapse. It seemed like the right thing to do. And I have decided that I get to eat what I want, watch what I want, and more or less do what I want, until I forget that I just started a new cycle, or stop being upset about it. The scale said something inexcusably rude this morning, and I decided that that was its problem, and I was going to enjoy my chocolate until I happened to feel like running instead.

On that subject, shopping. So some of you may know the perennial blog commenter Kerry, who does not have a blog of her own but faithfully follows a good number of IF blogs. Thanks to her super sleuthing skills, she tracked me down (after I appeared on a group photo posted on another blog - with my permission, but without my name or my blog linked), having realized I went to school with her husband. Then she moved to the DC area. Also, if I did not mention this, she is awesome.

So anyway, of course, we went shopping, and I have to say, meeting delightful friends (and shopping buddies!) has got to be one of the biggest perks of IF blogging. It's funny how after running into another IFer in person (even if, as in this case, you had already met her IRL, and even if she isn't technically a blogger) you immediately go into your treatment history, and new things you're thinking of trying, and what people you know have tried what diet to help with that, and other IFers you've just run into, and all the people you know who've made particularly traumatic pregnancy announcements recently. (I believe the horror that is facebook is also a particularly ever-green IF meetup topic. We should try to have it abolished, I think.)

We don't have any pictures, because we are anonymous, people. Just picture Ikea in your heads and you've got the basic idea.

Anyway, I don't know whether I am authorized to share this with teh interwebz, but Kerry's charming husband told her that we should organize an IF conference of some sort. So we are pondering. You ponder too, yes? What do you think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

sad, but not very interesting

First of all, you still need to pray for Ann, please. (I felt guilty posting anything above that, and then I realized that I could link to it. Someday, I will truly master the internet.)

Ranting, Modified

I can't really claim, though, that I have anything interesting to say. I do need to respond to the many interesting responses to my recent rant about IF/mommy bloggers and the transition and so forth. I am going to do this (or at least intend to and feel guilty about failing to do so).

In brief, I will note now, as I remember a few things off the top of my head: Ann noted that she actually does not like "baby mentioned" warnings and labels. This possibility had not crossed my mind, and makes clear that there actually is not a please-everyone solution available. So, um, I need to ratchet it back a bit, apparently. AYWH chimed in to note that as an IF-only blogger, she didn't read mommy blogs at all and never expected childless IF bloggers to read hers. An eminently fair approach and entirely above criticism, I must say. And I truly appreciate the honesty.

Visit DC

You should also know that if you plan to be in DC in the next few weeks, Saturday, November 6 would be a great time for that. The DC (primarily) Catholic infertility support group will be meeting once again! If you're interested, drop me an email and I will give you the details. I am very excited.

Madness

I have scaled back my analysis of FF from "pure evil" to "highly objectionable." It now concedes that I have probably ovulated at least twice in the last few months, but refuses to commit itself to a date. Whatever. In any case, I believe that interested parties can view my chart here. Charting has been an education for me this month. First of all, I was so sure that my post-peak temps were not as much higher as they ought to be, and that the days of suppressed temperatures corresponded directly to the days I was sick with a cold (almost completely over it now). But fever increases your temperature, obviously, so I was confused. Dr. Google set me straight: if you breathe through your mouth all night, your temperature will drop a smidge. Sure enough, I had been unable to breathe through my nose. Mystery solved.

I don't know how much that helps with the other mystery, though. For the last handful of cycles, I've had 2-4 days of spotting before the start of a new cycle. That had never happened to me before. It's all light red (no brown at all), so I'm not sure it matches up with the dreaded TEBB about which I've heard so much. I believe I've heard spotting attributed to either pelvic infection or low progesterone. I don't think I have an infection (especially a new one), and my progesterone was low before I had this symptom, so I don't really know what to make of it. I will ask at my upcoming appointment (the one at which I request the depo); perhaps there is some test that will solve the mystery.

Anyway, a further wrinkle was added to the mystery this round. I maintain peak day was CD10 (you may disagree, but I note that I've always had a lag between peak day and a temperature spike). It could have been as late as CD12. Starting on CD15, I have had very slight true-red spotting. It hasn't really increased, but it's been there every day. I'm now on CD22. That's a lot of spotting, people. And it started WAY early. I think the earliest I've had it before is starting on CD19, with a peak day of CD12 that cycle, and only 3-4 days of spotting before a new CD1. This is eight running days. What the heck is up with that? I don't even really have an intelligent theory.

Here's the part that's no mystery at all. A sane, rational person exposed to the facts of my reproductive health would deduce (after concluding immediately that I should give up on having children and commit myself to a useful life of raising parakeets) that I am generally not fertile at all, and that in certain cycles when an unaccustomed phenomenon appears, I have zero chance of conception rather than just approaching zero. The stars are badly aligned for me in the first place; defects and irregularities are insuperable obstacles (whereas for the proverbial pregnant crack whore, they merely present a sort of sporting challenge).

I like to think of myself as a sane, rational person. The total inaccuracy of this notion is demonstrated by the fact that I do not draw these sane, rational, obvious conclusions. What do I think when I see a menstrual irregularity that indicates the total absence of a normal, healthy cycle? Say it with me, now: I must be pregnant. What else (other than endometriosis, adenomyosis, hydrosalpinx, ovarian cysts, massive scar tissue, hypothyroidism, low ovarian reserve, a retroverted uterus, and a progesterone deficiency, naturally) could possibly explain the sudden onset of a new symptom? Of course, I could be getting sicker in some new way, or this could just be an intermittent defect; something a sane, rational person would realize is almost inevitable in a system as broken as mine. Those possibilities are the only two realistic ones.

They haven't made a dent in my obsession. I am generally pretty good about this; at least, I try to make myself forget where I am in my cycle long enough to miss most of any 2ww, and that seems to keep me sane(r). I know our timing was pretty good this month. I also know that the spotting in the last few months is hardly a sign of improvement, but eventually I did decide that I was going to combat it with some topical progesterone I bought years ago and never used up. I've been using that since the spotting started this cycle, but the spotting hasn't stopped. Perhaps I'm just postponing the next cycle, and I would otherwise have had three days of spotting and an 18-day cycle?

I know this is possible, and that if it is true, I am more or less wasting my life by continuing to postpone CD1. However, I can't disassociate the spotting-as-sign-that-cycle-is-defective from spotting-as-sign-of-miscarriage in my head. I wasn't pregnant on CD15, and I sure as heck wasn't losing a pregnancy. There's no way. But it doesn't matter. Until a new cycle starts, I can maintain an irrational, baseless, and emotionally harmful hope of a pregnancy. If I were actually pregnant, it would be essential to supplement with progesterone, because while that can't cure a defective cycle, it actually could stave off a miscarriage (if I were lucky). So, to prevent the termination of my delusion of pregnancy, I have to keep it up with the progesterone. It all makes sense, right?

I feel I should get credit for trying to be sane. I haven't bought an HPT in months ("Doctor, I don't even keep alcohol in the house!"), and I am not planning to start now. But I know I don't get a lot of credit for that, because I'm on CD22. While my usual is around 25 days, it varies plenty, and I'd have to be on CD29 at least before I had any good reason to spent the $10. Plus I'm only 12 days post-peak; nothing is overdue.

Except, probably, therapy. Sigh.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

pray for Ann

Who is newly pregnant but has lost four babies and is seriously concerned about losing this one (check out her blog here). I cannot imagine what she must be going through.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

slightly larger items

While browsing the produce section for good prices on vegetables (in October), I determined that I needed to make some seasonal pasta sauce. Late last night I finished a big batch, for consumption tonight. My tasting thus far indicates success. Here I share my original, from-scratch recipe, no doubt unconsciously stolen from some more competent source:
  • Split one acorn squash in half (start with knife, drop repeatedly on counter). Scoop out seeds. Put face-down on tinfoil on cookie sheet and roast at 400 for 45 minutes.
  • Spend 25 minutes blogging or watching TV. (Or, if you must, doing laundry.)
  • Boil 1 lb. pasta in large pot. (I used penne.) Drain and put in large serving bowl.
  • Add 1/4 stick butter to now-empty pot, on medium heat. [or oil, or margarine]
  • Add pinch crushed red pepper flakes to melting butter. [optional]
  • Dice 1 medium onion small; add to pot.
  • Mince 1-4 cloves garlic; add to pot. [Optional: add 1/2 tsp ginger paste/minced ginger.]
  • Add ~6 oz. frozen chopped spinach. Stir pot periodically.
  • Shred a handful of fresh basil and add. [I used frozen basil that I grew. It wilted in the freezer, but kept its flavor.]
  • Remove squash from oven. Remove skins and discard. [Recommended but optional: puree squash flesh with blender or food processor.]
  • Add squash to pot and stir more.
  • Grate an ounce or so of parmesan into pot. [could use sharp cheddar]
  • Add 1 cup half-and-half, in thirds, until desired thickness. [or cream, or milk]
  • Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
  • Optional: top with semi-crisp chopped bacon and gorgonzola before serving.
  • Could serve meat-free (or as side with roast). I added diced-up leftover pork chops. I can see chicken or scallops working too.
  • And I didn't have any, but thought chopped walnuts might be nice too.

It's gluten-free! Um, except the pasta, but I understand gluten-free varieties are available. I don't know whether the dairy could be successfully edited out, though.

In news unrelated to food, I am realizing from my screwy temperatures that this cycle is probably anovulatory. It looked perfect heading TOWARD peak day. I think I ovulated last cycle, but I know the cycle before was anovulatory, too. It's really getting me down. Before surgery, I ovulated every cycle that I measured. Then after surgery, it took me months to get back to cycles that were even biphasic. And they're still defective. My FSH levels are higher post-surgery, too. This makes a complete run: every single IF treatment or even diagnostic procedure I have tried in the last nearly two years, each intended to effect some improvement that did not happen, has been immediately followed by a significant reduction in the integrity of some element of my reproductive health that previously was working correctly. All the evidence indicates that I am becoming more infertile with treatment, and clearly I wasn't in a good place to begin with.

I know that most any doctor would say that I need to go all in - there are so many things I haven't tried, and a lot stronger medicine available, and even with my lousy ovarian reserve, they can jack me up with more hormones and see what works. (I think the fact that my age still starts with a "2" causes doctors to make optimistic assessments that are totally unsupported by my medical history, but it will be 16 months before I can prove my theory.) But I am a risk-averse personality to start with, and the idea of throwing good money after bad, in any life situation, makes my skin crawl. What will follow the next innocuous treatment - menopause? Osteoporosis? Uterine cancer? No matter what it is, I know that the doctors will say what they always say: there is no possible way that this depressing outcome is connected to the treatment or test I recommended. It's medically impossible. Lawyers have a different analytical method for dealing with a unique stimulus followed (without discernible causation) by an unprecedented response - res ipsa loquitur. That's an automatic win for the plaintiff. Too bad I'm not suing anybody (really, I'm not. The only thing that could make this process more unpleasant is a legal battle. One of my lifetime goals is never to appear in the caption of a lawsuit).

Anyway, I am tired of treatment. But since I am convinced that I need the depo to address the cysts anyway (and I am pathologically putting off scheduling the appointment at which I will lobby for the depo), I am telling myself that when I get off it, the ovulation will either return spontaneously, or respond to some mild treatment. (There's even a medical basis for that little bit of rationalization, which is always nice.)

I have also done further meditating on the subject of my assorted angst related to IF blogging and the crossing-over process [BTW, apologies to JB for my endless comment on her post], and I have come to a conclusion. Though I didn't notice it at the time, very soon after becoming an IF blogger (going on two years!), I became very protective of other IF bloggers. (Of course, there are some with whom I vehemently disagree about various matters, and if the disagreement is wide-enough ranging, I don't follow the blogger, so as to avoid an actual dispute.) And I view all former-infertiles who have borne or adopted children as latent foxes in the henhouse. They can prove themselves not to be dangerous by their conduct, but my default presumption is that they are inadequately sensitive to the effect their sharing has on their former compatriots, and, whether they are adequately sensitive or not, that their sharing about their children is harmful to childless infertile bloggers, and harmful in a context in which those women are most vulnerable to that type of harm. En masse adoptions and BFPs obviously constitute a whole leash of foxes in the henhouse at once, and in that case you probably have to shoot to kill.

Obviously, this system requires me to transfer bloggers from my "defend this person ferociously" group to the "watch like a hawk" designation at some set point, which I think that I probably do, although that point seems to vary widely from person to person. Also, obviously, nobody has asked me to take up against mommy bloggers on her behalf, and very likely nobody needs me to do so. Probably, in fact, I'm simply a pain in the neck. (Well, this part I've never really doubted.)

Realizing this explicitly is, I think, of use to me in recognizing why I react in the way that I do to pregnancy announcements, and, in particular, the post-BFP or post-adoption posts of other bloggers. I think that realizing why exactly I'm so defensive (it goes beyond what I'm feeling at the time; it's a matter of principle, but a principle of which I was more or less unconscious) will help me in deciding whether I ought to act on my impulses and, if so, how. But it's probably important to note here that I don't think my impulses are factually wrong. They are simplistic, and need to be susceptible of thoughtful exception and reservation of judgment until all the facts are in. But I think my paternalistic approach is more or less the right one.

I recognize that, as people have pointed out to me, I do not get to set the terms on which the IFosphere exists. People blog in this realm for lots of reasons, and combinations of reasons. On the other hand, I refuse to take a purely relativistic approach to the IFosphere. Though communities (real and virtual) generally have a raison d'etre more complicated than that dictated in any law or mission statement, their existence grows to have some actual defining principle (even if never articulated), which one should be able to apprehend by observation. My observations of the IFosphere indicate that it is at least as much strained as supported by substantial discussion of babies and pregnancy. Others are free to make their own observations and form different conclusions, which I would be happy to entertain.

So...those are my thoughts for the day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

all the small things

(I suspect I've used this title before...)

All is OK here in misfit-land. My DH is traveling again, but not for so long this time - and this is his last trip abroad for work! WA-HOO!!!

On the other hand, I have become so extremely defensive of my territory (i.e., the house in which I live, in which any potential intruders, spiders to squish, garbage to take out, mail to sort, bills to pay, and any other difficulty that comes up are squarely MY PROBLEM) that I don't really "let him in" even when he is home. He is sort of an accessory-husband now, rather than an essential part of my life. I have to work on this when he gets back, but as usual I have no idea where to start. Ah, well. Graces solve the problems in my life that I can't identify, explain, or solve. Right?

I met with Father again. Per your lovely suggestions, I brought fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies. (There's nothing wrong with staying up until 1AM to bake eight dozen cookies. That is completely normal.) He really seemed to appreciate them, so I will be bringing more food next time. Should I stick with baked goods? I make good pie, and cobbler, and a few more kinds of cookies, and cheesecake, and some fall-appropriate quickbreads. So that might give me an excuse to bake. Oh, and maybe some fresh bread. That would require heroically good planning, though.

He made some suggestions. I am going to read The Story of a Soul (again) and I think Introduction to the Devout Life. And I may be praying a decade of the Rosary every day - or at least, on some days. And I have thought that I probably should try to spend an hour in Adoration every week. I haven't gotten back to daily Mass yet, but I really feel like I need to be in (not should be in, like a good person would do so - but have a need to be there) Adoration. So I hope I make that happen before the feeling wears off.

Saturday my sister went with me to see a house - the first we've visited in a while. It looks like this (but appears larger in the picture than it is):


I liked everything I saw. Let's see, in bullets:
  • awesome price
  • everything in good condition
  • would renovate the kitchen to make it better but serviceable now
  • adorable and historic
  • in perfectly nice neighborhood, walkable to daily Mass and the rail line I need
  • three bedrooms, all equally tiny
  • cute attic but NOT finish-able (not tall enough to stand in)
  • one full bath and room to add a half downstairs
  • no room to add another full bath anywhere; and the existing one is quite small

I know I've looked at houses way bigger than I need, and I know I need to think seriously about how much space we need if we're not going to have kids. But I've always figured that when we buy, we could have one bathroom big enough for a big tub (not insanely big); a bedroom big enough for a queen bed; and a living room AND a library, even if neither is specially large. Do I need that? Would I find I didn't notice the lack of those things, or would I resent being stuck in a house that didn't have them?

The misfit has encountered an unexpected real estate problem: I don't know what I want. Unfortunately the realtor expects me to make a decision on whether to make an offer, and I do not feel emotionally equipped to do this.

Yesterday we spent a lovely day in the mountains with friends. It was an all-day Sunday sort of thing, which I thought was a judgment error to begin with. Remind me never to do this again; if you work Monday, you cannot undertake a ten-hour (counting driving) Sunday activity. I am so exhausted now. But the company was charming. And a friend brought her four kids (ages three to eight). I saw that coming, so no real problem. The girl adopted me about halfway through the day, sat on my lap without invitation, informed me she was on my team for board games (though the game was too difficult for children to play), and wouldn't leave my side. I generally ignore other people's children unless they are hitting me with something or running in traffic, so I was mildly surprised, but I guess it didn't do any harm. Maybe it's like cats - I always noticed growing up that our highly aloof purebred Siamese would hide from all guests...unless the guest was violently allergic or pathologically hated cats. Then they would find the person, sneak outside his field of vision, jump up on his lap when he wasn't looking, and settle down for a nap, firmly attached, with that self-satisfied expression that only cats can do quite like that.

Also, you have to read this, because it is awesome.

Also also, I am not in the 2ww. That would imply that I am waiting, which would imply an expected outcome, and, in this case, would imply an expected pregnancy. That obviously is not the case - it's never the case, with me - and consequently it clearly is not the case that I'm conscious of being in the 2ww, checking my temperature to see where the spike lines up, trying pointlessly to convince FF that I have ovulated, being aware of the passage of days, noting that we gave it a really good shot this month. There would be no reason for me to do any of those things.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

around

Popping in to let everyone know that I yet live. However, I shall be bloggingly absent for several days again, as my DH planned a long-weekend trip for us (a surprise for our fifth wedding anniversary back in August, though he has now told me where we're going). It sounds fabulous, and I expect to have beautiful pictures to share when I return.

An interesting thought...I still have so many things to work on in my life, and can claim to no particular progress. Certainly restoring the closeness in my marriage after all the travel and separation is high on the priority list, and in truth I've no idea what best to do to tackle that. But (here's the interesting thought) in the past few weeks I think I've felt less misery associated with the IF specifically. I still feel that the medium-term future is a blank and I don't know what we'll be doing with our lives (and have developed some ideas about what I want to do, but not any real hope of being able to accomplish any of that). So it's not that all is rosy. But while I know I still have a lot of growth and grieving and resolution to get through, I don't feel the sort of wretchedness over being childless that I think is often there below the surface.

Do you know what I realized? I've been blogging a lot less - just haven't had things to say, in many cases, I guess. I don't think that it's reading IF blogs that makes IF harder to bear. (Maybe I'm wrong.) I think it's reading about other people's babies that does it. I have to deal with babies to some degree in my real life, of course, as is natural (although fortunately it is to a limited degree, because it always carries some degree of stress). But as far as I can discern, reading about others' parenting experiences and small children and pregnancies and deliveries is a poison in my life - brings suffering with no alloy of joy or goodness at all. I can pretend to joy and occasionally be happy that someone else has a blessing and is happy about it, but I'm not happy about the baby, don't want to hold the baby, don't want to see the baby, nor pictures of the baby. If I don't have to hear about babies at all for even a few weeks, my life is perceptibly more peaceful.

And for anyone who is struggling with the question of what to do with crossed-over infertile mommy bloggers when it is hard to read them - I found that separating into "with" and "without" babies blogrolls (I still have to update a bit), though a symbolic gesture, made all the difference in the world. It was effectively giving myself permission to stop torturing myself. I don't check the second blogroll every time I do a run-through to see what new posts I've not read yet. And I've fallen behind on most of those bloggers' lives, and that's regrettable in a sense, but honestly, with few exceptions, even when I kept following the mommies and commenting, they stopped following me - not after the births of the babes, but within at most weeks of the BFP. As I said, there are exceptions (those blogs I still read every time I check in!).

It's life, like sisters and cousins we would never want to experience IF but whose babies torment us all the same; and giving yourself permission to acknowledge reality is the kindest thing you can do as an infertile woman. You don't have to go to baby showers (let alone throw them). You don't have to look at baby pictures ("No, thank you" is polite. You can say it. The world will spin on). You don't have to go to BRU ever. You don't have to visit a new mother in the hospital unless she is your daughter. You don't have to listen to labor and delivery stories (*smile* "I'm afraid I have trouble listening to that sort of thing. Can I get you something while I'm up?" is polite too). You don't have to read mommy blogs. You don't have to ask to hold the baby just because the other girls do. And if you want to do those things, then you can do them, and if you usually want to but on some particular day you don't want to, you don't have to. You don't have to.

Finally, though most everyone has probably heard this already, I "hear" these but don't hear them often enough, so here is this Sunday's first reading:

How long, O Lord? I cry for help
but You do not listen!
I cry out to You "Violence!"
but You do not intervene.
Why do You let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
(From the book of Habakkuk. I look forward to a "vision that will not disappoint," even if its identity is unknown; even though I know by now that this does not mean I am to hope for a baby.)