Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warsaw

Warsaw is an interesting city. Apparently it was like many other stately European cities - full of parks, lovely architecture from a span of centuries, walkable, and, as they're saying now, "human-scale." At the end of World War II, after Hitler had invaded Poland and forcibly relocated (and almost totally exterminated) Warsaw's 300,000 Jews, as well as numerous Poles (with a focus on the clergy and notable intellectuals), the Poles' resistance, especially the Warsaw rising, inspired him to particular rage. Already losing the war on multiple fronts, with a crisis of morale, and supplies needed on active fronts, he diverted men and munitions back to Warsaw, where he evacuated those remaining in the city and then began to level its empty buildings with explosives. He destroyed almost every building in the city. An empty city. That he had already captured. (The Poles, typically, continued to fight while this went on.)

Warsaw made post-war Dresden and London look like Stepford. The Poles managed to rebuild more or less exact replicas of the center city and most of their main streets. They put the top halves back onto their historic churches, but many ornate baroque churches, which very obviously were once covered in gilding, marble, mosaics, and frescoes, are now simply painted white on the inside. The beautiful architecture remains, but the decorations are gone. There are exceptions...as you will see.

Stalin then took over where Hitler left off, plunging Poland into decades of economic depression and social repression as a result of oppressive and economically insane statist policies. As his "gift" to the city, he built an enormous neogothic tower, the Palace of Arts and Culture, in the center of one of the city's plazas. It was intended to be the largest and most imposing structure in the city - a demonstration of Russian superiority. I generally think neogothic architecture is beautiful, but the building has a palpably menacing appearance. It is no longer the tallest building in the city - where Warsaw's historic buildings were not rebuilt, contemporary architecture has arisen, including a smattering of skyscrapers, malls, and hotels. We took pictures at dusk from the tower's overlook:



The city's castle (at one time residence of the last king, now a historic site) is on the right; a snippet of the historic main square (rebuilt) is on the left:

We trooped through the forest (that's the brother and sister in the center) to see the former royal summer palace.


It's a modest affair compared to, say, Schoenbrunn (in Vienna). It's very pretty, though:


We also toured a beautiful historic cemetery:


And enjoyed some Polish food, went to the largest mall in Poland, took the trams a lot, drank tons of hot chocolate, had some excellent baked pierogi (need recipe), got the odd souvenir, and hung out. And walked around with wet feet in the snow. (Note: visit Warsaw in May.) We also saw a lot of churches (and that was the abbreviated list), including St. Anne, in which our parents were married in 1976 (they began their divorce proceedings twelve years later). That one doesn't lack for any ornamentation (with misfit and brother):



This church (I forget the name) has a very unusual design on its high pulpit:


I said prayers for you all in front of the statue of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and offered my Sunday Mass for you as well. My father always told the joke about the Pope running all over the world trying to get in touch with God in an emergency - nobody can help him out, but when he gets to Poland, they say, "No problem." "What, He's in Warsaw?" says the Pope. "Well, no," they respond - "but it's a local call from here."

Friday, February 25, 2011

hello again

I am waiting for my sister to send her picasa album, which has the complete collection of trip photos, before I post photos of Warsaw. But I thought I would give evidence to the blogosphere that I have not vanished permanently. However, my musings for the week are somewhat excessively random.

There is another house, which we are going to see tomorrow. Like all the houses, it has benefits and drawbacks. It's actually nineteenth-century, which I love. It has some charming features and details. It's quite a low price compared to the other stuff we've seen. It's in a good town. It may be easily accessible to a good parish and the metro (we will have to check). Regrettably, its strongest influence appears to be craftsman, which is my least favorite of the late Victorian styles. It's on the smaller side (but may have expansion potential - we shall see). And it's on a busy street, which I suspect my DH is going to veto outright. But we soldier on. (Or at least, I do, and sometimes he patiently comes along.)

During my last discussion with Father, he gave me the assignment by next month (coming up soon) to come up with a list of things that I would need to do at minimum on a daily basis for my spiritual life to be really in order. This has proven even more difficult than I expected. While I've prayed for discernment (OK, not as regularly as I should have), I don't have any blinding flashes of clarity. One temptation is not to choose anything it seems unlikely I will accomplish - but then I risk aiming too low. The other is to choose all the things I think I ought ideally to be doing, even if I know they are probably infeasible - and risk failing immediately and permanently. (My impulse here is to believe that an unbroken cycle of failure and guilt is exactly what God wants for me and expects of me. But this frame of mind isn't going to get me anywhere.)

In particular, I am still wrestling with the daily Mass dilemma. I'm strongly inclined to believe that's something I should return to. But is it sensible to expect myself to make Mass every day, or just most days? And I haven't solved my perennial problem - there's one daily Mass I can make before leaving for work, but it requires me to get up at least 90 minutes earlier than I do now, and it's an incredible challenge getting myself out of bed as it is. Even if I could accomplish that, my resulting commute would either be very expensive or involve a huge waste of time. The other possibility is one Mass in the evening, which works much better logistically, but which is in a language I don't know, with no cognates, and which I can't even pronounce. I tried that for a few months after we moved here, and hated it. My thought was that if God wants me to get to daily Mass, He will provide me with an accessible daily Mass (in English), as He always has before. I have pestered Him on this matter lately, but with no apparent response.

Tuesday I finally had the ultrasound that was supposed to determine why I am having all this abdominal pain. There's good news and bad news. The radiologist (and, now, my RE as well) both think that my ovaries look excellent following my surgery (which, remember, was all the way back in October 2009. We have to be fair here and give Dr. L/C credit for being a good surgeon). Apparently, Dr. L/C was correct that the random thing on my right ovary in December was a hemorrhagic corpus luteum (I was convinced it was an endometrioma). They did find a very small dermoid cyst that nobody deems worth worrying about on my right ovary, and an itty-bitty cyst (1cm) of indeterminate nature, expected to be a routine ovulatory sort of follicle, on the left ovary. But everyone seems just delighted with the state of my reproductive system, with just that one inconvenient note about it not working well enough for me to get pregnant.

The bad news is that this doesn't explain the day of raging pain in January, the approximately three days of pain some time between CD7 and CD11 for the last five or six months, or the premenstrual spotting for the last six or eight months. The radiologist noted that I might have endometrial adhesions that are causing pain. Fair point. Not that that's delightful either.

Although today is only CD21, I believe I am p+11 (obviously, that's no textbook ovulation). Because my body has a rollicking sense of humor, it has also decided to break new ground in creating symptoms that are slightly different from my previous non-pregnancy symptoms, thereby inviting me to descend into madness once again this cycle. In this case, it's the phantom impression that I will at any second explode out of my brassiere. Tragically for my figure, no objective evidence appears to support this impression. Thus far, I have steadfastly declined the invitation to madness. Also, the house has a kitchen in need of a bit of renovation, and I am sure that if I were pregnant, my DH would forbid me to so much as look upon paint, even were it distilled from the very tears of angels, so this isn't a good time.

Finally, a few things struck me in the past week that I very much wanted to share with all of you.

The first is an episode of Supernanny (I love Supernanny, for no reason that I can adequately explain, given my "condition") which is unusual in that it centers on a mother of four adopted children. Two are from Guatemala and two from Ghana; the adoptive parents are both white. What's more, the Ghanaian pair, who are siblings, were adopted only three months before the show was filmed, and are four and six - and before coming to the States, neither spoke English. A month after their adoption, their father was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. I can't even imagine how the father can bond with his children under such circumstances.

The mother has got to be the most competent parent who's ever been on the show (I think that's a pretty neutral observation, and I've seen a ton of episodes) - but she is, not surprisingly, overwhelmed. I watched most of the show with my mouth hanging open. That woman never stops running, and certainly never fails for laziness or lack of trying. I think I would collapse from exhaustion just at the thought of making that family work. Anyway, I found it fascinating, and thought some of you might too - though probably emotional as well. (You have been warned.)



Also, I found this immensely enjoyable:



Have a great weekend, blogosphere.

Monday, February 14, 2011

goodbye Vibe

It's been a strange week.

On February 10, my maternal grandmother died, just after her 88th birthday. This was not a surprise (she had been increasingly frail for several years and wasn't expected even to make it this long) and I can't claim she and I were close. In fact, she was nasty to me (or to someone else in the family) on every occasion on which I ever spent time in her company, until she was too out of it to interact much.

It is sad for her children, especially her five daughters. I don't believe any of them ever got to sit down with her and tell her how much her behavior had hurt them and how they wanted to resolve the matter, although I am sure they now wish they had made the effort some time in the last few years. I'm sure there never appeared to be a right time (and I know she never said she was sorry). Her husband, who drank too much, brutally beat his kids (especially one of my uncles) the whole time they were growing up; his two modes of conduct toward his seven children were ignoring them or enraged with them. I have never heard a single story in which either my grandfather or grandmother was affectionate toward, kind to, or proud of a single one of their children, during their childhoods or in the forty years since. Not ever.

My grandmother didn't actually beat anybody (she wasn't that big), but she slapped them regularly, screamed at everyone constantly, threatened them with their father's wrath when he came home, never defended them from getting beaten up, and ran the household like a Nazi (that may be unfair to Nazis, perhaps). My mother and her sisters were not permitted to enter my grandmother's kitchen while they lived under her roof, nor, after they moved out, until she was too sick to chase them out any more. I'm afraid she was a very nasty person, and now she's dead.

My mother, who, as aforementioned, is mentally ill, was guaranteed to find some passive-aggressive way to work out the fact that she is clearly not grieving the loss of her mother. (I can hardly blame her, but I imagine the loss is greater given how bad their relationship was. Though my mother claimed they got along famously - she was my grandmother's favorite - obviously, and understandably, she hated my grandmother.)

So I had a surreal conversation with my mother yesterday afternoon. She is in a convalescent home, something of an odd fit in view of the fact that, at 62, she is physically very healthy. This was considered the best way to get her the requisite care and supervision, which she certainly needs. Rather than showing improvement once out of the poisonous influence of her parents' home, she's regressed more. Despite having her own phone and quite literally nothing to do, she never calls her children - not a single time since she has moved to this facility.

She has bonded with an across-the-hall neighbor named Debbie, who has been lobotomized (really), and is the functioning member of that dyad. My mother never answers the phone in her own room (even when she is there. This is part of the passive-aggressive streak). But she's practically never there - she's always in Debbie's room watching movies. (I am happy she has a friend, but refusing to speak to her family should not, in my view, be tolerated. She isn't seven, mentally or otherwise.) She also insists that my sister and I, when we call, talk to Debbie, and will hand over the phone even after we expressly refuse. (I have nothing against Debbie, obviously, but again, my mother is being manipulative. She knows we don't know Debbie and only called Debbie's room because my mother never talks to us otherwise.)

I should probably have called with extra patience since I knew her mom had just died, but after calling her room and the front desk and finally Debbie's room, I was not in a patient mood. I asked her to predict when she would be in her room so I could call her, or to call me from her room when she had some free time. She said that she wasn't up to dealing with "modern technology" (including the telephone, invented in the 1870s), so I told her that if she didn't want to talk to me, she shouldn't call. My aunts would say that it's my obligation to call her, but I don't agree. The problem is that nobody acknowledges that she has any obligations, and she likes it that way. I'm disgusted with the whole situation. I don't deny that she's sick, and I make very substantial allowances for that, but any sick is not infinitely sick. That's like saying that because I'm infertile, I also can't walk. Shameful.

On Saturday morning as I was driving to meet one of the girls to head to the DC-area Catholic infertility support group meeting (or, as I call it for short, the "infertile coffee"), I was hit by a driver running a red light. While I'm not the world's best driver, anyone who even later does not know what color her light was, fails to brake as she's heading straight for another car, does not notice that her passenger is in shock (I assume - I'm not a doctor, but the woman spent a lot of time in the fetal position), doesn't ask whether the driver of the car she hit is OK, and doesn't call the police or her insurance company (just her husband) - should not have a driver's license. By the way, she isn't 17 - she's 37.

I am not hurt (well, sore, and if I remain sore, I will see a doctor and make sure), and the two women in the other car apparently were not hurt, but had I braked a little less hard, she might have hit the driver's door instead of the panel in front of it, and I might be dead instead of blogging. For real - she hit me going, I think, about 30mph. As indicated by the title of my post, I am probably mourning the loss of my beloved Neptune-blue Vibe, which is totaled (engine won't work and the front is smashed) more than my grandmother. The Vibe never hurt anyone, certainly not children, and it was patient, kind, and forgiving. Would that the same could have been said for my grandmother. (I ought not speak ill of the dead and ask for her intercession for my infertility problems, right? This is the point where I get the rage. No amount of humiliation or bargaining will likely ever get me children, and I'm not lying about my grandmother. Or anything else.)

On Sunday evening, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party (actual birthday is tomorrow), and when I opened the door to a darkened living room full of shadowy people yelling "surprise!" my heart may have stopped for a second. I actually screamed, but later realized that, since they were yelling, they didn't hear me. I didn't stop shaking for several minutes. But it was super-sweet, and I got not one but two delicious cakes, and a few people even brought presents (which was totally unnecessary, but now I have lots of chocolate), and one of our bachelor friends actually washed our dishes because my DH ran out of time before he had to scoot me away to dinner (ostensibly for Valentine's Day), and I am mortified, and clearly owe him one. But my DH did do enough straightening up to hide my undergarments before the guests arrived, so I put my neurotic concerns to rest and had a really lovely evening.

Wednesday evening, I fly to Warsaw to spend the weekend with the beloved siblings. This probably means I will miss the funeral (though despite promising, my aunt has not called back to tell me when it will be - of course, this would be easier for her if my mother would call her own children), but my aunt clearly thought I should not cancel the trip, and as long as it will not hurt the relatives' feelings, I think I should go. I can actually do some good seeing the siblings, I think. And I will post pictures.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

un-f*** up your life

I am always claiming to have been lately coming to realizations. Sometimes when I look back on such claims, I find them dubious - yeah, I thought I was on the tip of a major apotheosis, but maybe I just had some bad cold cuts, you know? Because the immediately following weeks and months did not contain the progressive unfolding of my enlightenment, not even on that particular issue. Probably the same is true now. But, undaunted, I forge on.

First of all, one of the baseline assumptions of this meandering meditation is that infertility is really insidious. You knew this. Specifically: it isn't just a matter of some part of one's reproductive (or broader physiological) system that does not work. It isn't even just that these problems can drastically affect quality of life in other areas (I'm thinking of pain from endometriosis; trouble with diet and weight management from PCOS; numerous complications from cancer; dietary issues borne of Celiac Disease. I could go on. Lists like these remind me how evil IF is. I digress...).

It's that once there's a profound twisting of the healthy human organism in the single (if central) area of reproductive function, the steady forward progress of the healthy person gets twisted up around that. Sort of like how if you have a serious ambulatory injury (maybe a torn ACL), pretty soon you find yourself in therapy for bursitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel, sprains, and stretched ligaments - in the injured leg and the healthy one, plus probably both arms - because the one injury screws up how your whole body moves, and it's not designed to move without one part, and it starts to injure everything else. And your walk is unhealthy and ugly to boot.

My "walk" is unhealthy and ugly. It has been for a long time, and it gets slowly but steadily worse.

Now, I think a lot about how I'm unhappy, why I'm unhappy, and just how irritated I am by particular circumstances in life. In other words, I wallow. But despite my knee-jerk (and unhelpful) intellectualization of all my emotional issues, I rarely make any headway examining all these irritants and their greater implications. Let alone any solutions. But maybe that's starting to change?

The other day, I watched this video recommended by fabulous post-IF (no, not with babies!) blogger Pamela Jeanne. (Her blog has been a refuge and an inspiration for me when I just cannot deal with one more post that says, "Now that I'm little X's mommy, I understand God's plan of making me wait seventy years to have a child. It's all worth it when I squeeze X's little chubby cheeks!") The video was awesome and thought-provoking, even if Brene's research did not immediately answer all my nagging questions. More broadly, I immediately developed a craving to watch more videos. I wanted to watch nerdy Harvard psychology professors talk about the functioning of the human mind ten times more than I wanted to watch the latest episode of House on hulu (this is shocking). For some reason, I felt as though these people were talking to me. And I couldn't get enough of it.

I watched Martin Seligman on positive psychology. Then I watched Dan Gilbert on how happiness (in this case, more like satisfaction) is generated in our minds. These gentlemen are researchers - they're not operating from a spiritual perspective, so they aren't able to give me a purpose in life, or even suggestions on how to search for one. But they did start me off thinking about work.

Mr. Seligman explained that there are three modes of happiness: there's pleasure (enjoying your experiences); there's "flow" (I don't get the name, but it's sort of the quality of being lost in whatever it is you're doing - it captures your interest, and time races for you); and there's having a higher purpose (even if the activity is boring and not pleasurable, you know it has a greater meaning). People with high life satisfaction invariably have all of them, though the first turns out to be the least important. (You should watch the video for all the details.)

Sometimes a new way of phrasing something is eye-opening. This "flow" concept captivated me. Though I hated my previous job (which varied between abusively busy and not nearly busy enough, and manifested no respect for employees' personal lives), there were days when I would show up at work to find an "emergency" already underway, and spend the next twelve or fourteen hours running, sometimes without even time to eat. Legal research was due before I started it. Phone calls were convened in haste with a tone of hysteria. Meetings were fraught with panic, because the time I spent listening politely was time I couldn't spend working on my to-do list from the meeting, which my bosses were sort of hoping to have done as they walked back from the meeting to their offices. Frankly, a lot of the hours I spent during those days were either listening to other people talk to each other, or making copies, or formatting other people's documents. Not exalted work, and not enjoyable per se; but the hours rushed by. And while I would spend the late-evening hours of such days griping to my similarly-junior colleagues about the deadly day, I would secretly be harboring a feeling of euphoria: things had needed to be done, although some of them were silly things. And the odds that they could be accomplished at all were slim - but I accomplished them. My bosses' gratitude might not be effusive, might not even be stated, but I knew they knew I was indispensible.

I believe this is what Mr. Seligman means by "flow." Now, my current job doesn't have the abusive hours or the manufactured crises of my last job. But it rarely has that feeling of emergency, in which my labor is essential. And I think that might be the single thing I'm missing - because I've been saying for a long time that I can't fairly complain about a single thing about my job. All of the objective circumstances are great. I'm not satisfied, but it's not because the work I'm given is unpleasant. And I say it's because I don't sense a deeper meaning, but the mission of my employer is a good one and my work contributes to that in some way. If I wanted to jettison most of my salary, maybe I could work somewhere the mission was a really really good one, but most of those places aren't hiring anyway, and besides - I don't want to jettison most of my salary.

I've assumed for a while that the "deeper meaning" component was the problem, because the job was perfect when I was looking for something to do full-time until I got this IF business straightened out and had a kid(s); part-time between their birth and starting school; and full-time again thereafter (to save for college tuition, probably). And that's certainly part of the problem - I'm now turning to this job to find a purpose in life, something I never expected it to provide me when I started it. That's moving the goalposts in the middle of the game, and it's not fair.

It's also not easy to sneak into a conversation when a friend asks, "How's life?" Well, funny you should ask. Work's not bad, but I wanted children more than anything in the world, and now that I'm coming to grips with the fact that I can't ever have them, life has lost all purpose. If I died tomorrow rescuing a cat from a burning building, or just failed to wake up in the morning, that would seem entirely appropriate to me. How are things with you?

So now I'm looking at the problem being that maybe this job doesn't demand enough of me (or something sort of like that). But how do I balance wanting the job to demand enough of me to make the time disappear and wanting the job to have reasonable enough demands and hours that I am able to have a life after work? Is this possible? Is it pointless even to look for?

Then I watched that second video, which discusses the fact that we manufacture happiness to accomodate to what we actually have in life. This is clearly true and very evident in my own life. Not only do I rapidly decide that what I wanted is what I have, I have a policy of so doing and it's very explicit. I also tailor what I am going to want in advance according to other criteria (such as frugality), and I map out trade-offs in advance and declare the things I will thereby lose to be off the table for wanting or missing. Obviously, everyone does this, but Dr. Gilbert posits that most people don't realize they're doing it (or maybe it wouldn't work?). I do.

But what about the possibility that my dissatisfaction with various facets of my life is a product of my failure to apply the appropriate emotional discipline to my circumstances? I can certainly see this in my friends. I have friends who are always unhappy about their jobs (even when clearly there's nothing wrong with the job), and friends who are always positive and grateful about their jobs (even when those are clearly fraught with difficulties). Part of that is just what they say to other people who ask, maybe, but a lot of it's attitude. And a lot of it (watch the Gilbert video) is expectations. As mentioned above, I moved the goalposts after the train left the station (that's funny because I know it's a mixed metaphor), with predictably bad results.

That doesn't mean I know how to fix it.

Obviously, this (already long) musing is so far about work only. And part of the problem is that work is part of a much larger picture. But I've started dipping a toe in the water of thinking about that, too.

First, after I'd exhausted the fun videos, I wandered all over the web looking for resources for spouses of PTSD sufferers. There's very little there, but there's a book I'm picking up at the library tonight - will let you know if it's any good [update: it's terrible]. What I'm looking for is a compass - what should I expect? What's normal? What small things can I do to improve matters? What goals should I have? Again, I need to keep working on finding a therapist, too.

I started thinking of my and my DH's struggles in light of all these questions. We're just looking for a purpose in life. Because I can't have kids, I've invested too much in my job. I've also invested a lot of emotional energy in resenting people with families (even if I am generally kind to the individual fertile people I know - really, I am). I don't feel as though I can move home to real America because everyone there has families, and DINK couples are freakish and there's so little for us to do. And I don't want to be pitied. But I hate living in the city, in part because I associate it with the career I "have to" have because I don't have kids to keep me home. (I could look at this in terms of having more options, but does that sound like me?)

I also hate the city just because I hate cities in general. While I'm not gung-ho about moving to Denver (not enough IF bloggers in the immediate area, according to my little survey - ha!), we tripped over the notion of moving to rural Massachusetts the other day, and my heart skipped a beat. I want to move to a village in Massachusetts TOMORROW. That sounds like the best thing in the whole wide world (to me. Places are not for everyone; they are for people. I belong in rural New England and I always have). That's where I want to live. There are all the small problems of not having friends there...and not having jobs there...and the dioceses being questionable. Some of these problems might solve themselves in the long-term - I think the work force is headed more and more toward telecommuting, and I suspect eventually I'll be able to work my job from the moon. So maybe...the solution is just to keep marching in place, which I'm already doing, but which does not feel like a solution.

Then there's the fact that my DH is so miserable with his job. He's actually in the middle of a job search, so I have been trying hard to keep the faith that by this spring, he will have found a new position and it will be one that he really likes. That would make such a difference in our quality of life I can't even tell you.

And there's the fact that he, like me, is searching not so much for job satisfaction, as for a broader purpose. In the original framework in which I (despite my fantastic marketable skills - ha) would be unable to work because I was taking care of small people, he would be taking care of us - providing for his family, supporting me, and coming out way ahead in the balance, despite the fact that for a few years there, I had a job and he didn't. Has that happened? No. In fact, I make more than he does, and while that doesn't bother him in the way it would some men, it does mean I'm not dependent on him for anything material. He's not actually accomplishing anything by his daily labor, in the grander scheme of things.

That's crap, and I don't know why it took me so long to see that. It's why he's striking out trying to get another degree or a different type of job or live in a different place or change the game in some way. And it's why he wants me to quit working and get another degree, even though it's obvious to me that that would be financially pointless. If he has to work three jobs so that I can work less and do something that would make me happy, he would do it (he has said so). In fact, I think he would enjoy it. But I'm the prudent one, and as long as there's no reason I can't work, I think I should earn a salary and build savings and pay down debt. My perspective needs no explanation. But his is frankly the more compelling one, since, in my own particular way, I have the same motivations he does: I want my daily life to give me the reasons for living of which I feel I have been robbed by infertility.

I don't have answers to all of these questions, regrettably. Both my DH and I share the temptation (though only he would act on it) to check out of the game altogether: quit the whole responsible citizen gig and move somewhere exotic and, if not literally live off the land, at least something more like that. No 9-to-5, and no suburbia with playgrounds and soccer practice, and no unattainable American dream.

And while I don't think that necessarily is the solution for us in the short term, I think I need to give that way of thinking more of a chance, and see what it can teach me about what my options really need to be. I am terrified to leave a situation in which our bottom line is slowly but steadily improving, and we have people to see, a roof over our heads, and food on the table. But how much is that worth when we're this unhappy?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

shop and support a fellow blogger!!!

I am very late posting this, but there is still a little time!

The lovely Sarah of the Babies Everywhere, But None That Call Me Mama blog is holding an auction to raise funds for her adoption. They have really cool stuff - pretty jewelry, aprons, cute burp cloth sets and girls' dresses for the parents in the gang (or those looking for baby gifts!), some exotic linens from the family's travels abroad - go check it all out. You can visit the auction here. (It's actually really straightforward.)

The auction ends at midnight (Pacific time) tonight, so there is still time to bid on things! Go! Shop!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

CD1

I feel like I write a post with this title every month. Oh, wait...

So I have my ultrasound early Tuesday morning. My hope is that they will find something that is not a total disaster (if one of my ovaries has a demon face grinning horribly from it, I will be concerned. Of course, I am convinced this is already the case), but I really hope that they find something. Random, aberrant pain without any explanation but probably no serious medical implications would be less than reassuring, because then I could be in enough pain to be laid up again - how often? So I am sort of hopeful. Ish. About...who knows.

I was thinking last night as the spotting slowly increased to more spotting (and then increased to "L" and cramps today) that my verbally self-abusive framework of anticipating the arrival of AF is actually fairly narrow-minded. As I accumulate symptoms that I associate with the onset of my period (irritability, abdominal tightness, bloating, spotting, etc.), I know the next cycle is about to start. My irrationally-hopeful side feeds me contrary theories. The tiny voices I'm always trying to silence note that none of these symptoms is inconsistent with pregnancy; in fact, some of them are associated with both PMS and pregnancy (breast tenderness and abdominal tightness, for example. At least, so I've read...).

When I try to shut the voice up, I am not actually acknowledging my intellectual certainty that what's happening is a new cycle rather than the start of a pregnancy. Because, as a matter of fact, I'm not actually certain about that. If I later ended up with a BFP, every symptom could accurately be explained as either a pregnancy symptom or a symptom of low progesterone.

What I'm actually saying is that the symptoms all could be symptoms of the fact that I'm about to start a new cycle (what actually happened, of course), because my past experience tells me that this is possible. (And that's perfectly rational.) And the other thing I'm expressing when I repress the ideas about the fact that I could possibly be pregnant is that it's morally wrong - a breach of faith, really - to suppose that in my particular case, symptoms that are more or less ambiguous as between PMS and early pregnancy are anything but PMS.

That sentence was a little tortured, so I'll try to reframe: for women in general, symptoms that could go either way should rationally be read as "could go either way." You take a test or wait it out to see what the symptoms actually indicate. In my case, with symptoms that could go either way, I believe I am morally obliged to interpret them always as signs of a new cycle, because how dare I hope that things could turn out positively? Who do I think I am - a person who receives blessings like that blessing? To indulge fantasies of two pink lines is greed - inexcusably desiring things beyond my station.

Am I making any sense here? This struck me as a revelation, but perhaps I'm not explaining (or have imagined) what made the idea revolutionary. It came to me when I was scolding myself that of course all my symptoms made obvious that I was about to get my period. And then I thought, oh, wait, that's not true. It would be true in the case of someone who is not ttc, who is just trying to figure out whether it's the end of the cycle or not...but actually, with someone who's trying to get pregnant, the symptoms aren't conclusive at all. It's just that I think I'm obliged to take on faith that I could never get pregnant.

And now I'm angry. Angry because I realize that in my mind, acknowledging that ambiguous symptoms could mean pregnancy is like expecting that every present under the tree is for me, or being indignant when I don't win the lottery, or being offended that I have to work to support myself and pay for the things that I want. I think that actually, rationally, and objectively supposing that I could be pregnant is greed.

In fact, even more than the high likelihood of miscarriage based on my medical state, if I somehow did get a BFP, I would approach the entire pregnancy as likely to end in loss as a matter of some perverse practice of virtue - I don't deserve a baby, so it would be overwhelmingly presumptuous to be happy about a pregnancy. Likely as it is that the baby would die, it would be a certainty if I were happy, because of course a just God would need to teach me a lesson for expecting that such a blessing were real.

Of course, I am an undeserving creature. Everyone is, including everyone who becomes a parent. What kind of saint would one have to be to earn something like the miracle of life? But when another woman gets pregnant - under whatever circumstances, really - I don't think, "Well, she didn't deserve a baby." I take it as a matter of course. And every new bride (and every infertile) who gets pregnant for the first time confirms it more: it's not just bad luck, and all these other women (whom I know to be good and deserving) don't have babies either. They all have them now (or will soon). So it really is that I'm to make an act of faith to the transcendent truth of barrenness. "Hope in the Lord" means having hope for everyone but me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

hey, Cleopatra

My chart for this month is hardly a thing of beauty. We didn't "use" the best days (although certainly days that would get a fertile pregnant. Must not think about this). I have seven days of fertile CM recorded, but I know that's not totally accurate; there were seven days when I had clear, stretchy, and slippery, but I'm sure if I paid better attention I could figure out which ones really counted properly. And though the temps were surely bi-phasic, they wander around wildly. And I mostly remembered to take progesterone in my luteal phase, but not perfectly, so I have had a little bit of spotting, but only a little. And today is p+11 or p+12, which is pretty good for me, but nothing to write home about. And this morning I woke up with an extra symptom of the coming cycle. And I have been - well, it's possible that I have been just a little cranky. But only just a little. And, you know, for good reasons. And then there's the fact that (despite the fact that I was supposed to start HCG two cycles ago) I'm actually not on a treatment regimen just now, other than the progesterone I guess, and I clearly am getting worse, and the next thing I have scheduled is an ultrasound to see how much worse I've gotten.

All of this means sadness. Which means that I am expecting my cycle to start. And if I know that that's coming, then it's not like anything other than the expected is happening, so WHY AM I SAD?

This is clearly not worth the emotional energy. I am going to look into the possibility of a nice hysterectomy and vegetative propagation.