Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Recommendation

After more than 18 months, I finally found a book on miscarriage that I was able to read without feeling anger, envy or sadness. I started reading many books on infertility and miscarriage, some of them recommended by readers of this blog, but was unable to finish a single one. I always got discouraged after a few pages or even after a few chapters.

Not this time. The book is Coming to Term, by Jon Cohen. Let me start right out by warning you that the author has three kids and they get mentioned in this book. Yet,  this is not his personal success story (though he did experience the pain of miscarriage). It is a compilation of information he gathered throughout many years. This book is extremely well documented.

The guy is a scientific writer, and you can tell by how well he organizes and presents the information in a clear way that anyone can understand. A lot of that information is, of course, related to miscarriage, but there is also many facts on infertility, including a bit on PCOS and other conditions related to it.

I wish I had read this when I first started trying to conceive. I would have pressed for more tests sooner, changed treatments sooner, made life changes sooner, changed doctors sooner.

Even if you have never had a miscarriage, this is a good book to read if you are trying to get pregnant.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The spouse loves me more than he ever loved DS. He said so, during our conversations of what to do next, and I was struck by guilt, because my own feelings are different.

Don't get me wrong, I love the spouse more than anyone in my life right now. But the moment I saw a heartbeat, I had an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love that surpassed any love I had ever felt for anyone before, the spouse included. It is extremely hard to describe. I am crying as I write this. I think I will forever cry whenever I remember my little boy.

There is an additional feeling that puts me to shame. I always wanted to be a mother, and I think I would have left the spouse if at some point he did not want to or was not able to be a father. It shames me to know that I would have hurt him so much, especially in the face of my own fertility issues.

We talked for a long time about adoption, fostering, donor eggs, embryo donation and surrogacy. None of those seem good enough to him (and not all of them seem good to me either, but I wanted all cards on the table for now).

What he wants is another FSH-HCG cycle followed by another IUI. Yes, that is what he wants, in spite of Einstein's definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results). I'm not really into it, but if this might bring him closure, why not? What's a few more pricks and bruises?

But first,  we have to visit my sister, who is still doing chemo. We're also visiting my in-laws in the same trip. After that, my brother in law will come and visit us. And then my parents are coming for Christmas and possibly staying until Epiphany, which we celebrate on January 6.

I don't want to cycle while traveling (ugh, I just conjured the image of a TSA agent confiscating my needles), or with guests in my house. I know, I know, tick-tock, tick-tock, the biological clock is running out of time and so on and so forth.

But to me, this cycle is kind of useless. My biological clock, as I see it, has already given up. So it really does not matter if I do it in January instead of November or December.  Hope has nothing to do with this cycle. This time, it's just Guilt.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poop post

I warned you. If you don't like reading about poop, stop reading now.

Still here? OK, here we go. I work in a mostly male environment. The amount of women using the lady's room can be counted with the fingers of one hand. The cleaning lady used to tell me ours was the cleanest bathroom in the whole building.

Not anymore. The new arrival seems a normal person, but clearly she has some problems using 21st century plumbing. She apparently tries to eliminate her body waste while avoiding any contact with the toilet seat. If said body waste reaches its final destination, or ends up decorating the toilet seat or the floor, does not seem to concern her. As a result, we've been downgraded to the most disgusting bathroom in the building.

There are three stalls, and by the end of the day all three have been embellished with either solid or liquid waste. The cleaning lady sorrowfully tells me that she's complained to her supervisor and the response was that well, tough luck. Bathrooms get dirty. If she does not like it she can go find another job.

All I told her is that cleaning has more merit than dirtying. I don't think I made her feel any better.

Meanwhile, I've no idea what to do (other than going to the bathroom in the lobby). The other women using the toilet must be as disgusted and shocked as I am, especially since until recently we had a pristine, immaculate bathroom, and now we have a pigsty. Still, we're ignoring the elephant in the bathroom.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pets vs. Kids

We recently gave a friend a ride and I felt the need to reassure him that he needn't worry about dog hair, since the yellow dog usually sits on a towel whenever she drives with us.

The conversation drifted towards the old dog, who did not shed, given that he was a purebred Poodle. And then we could not stop talking about our dead dog. The spouse and I told one funny anecdote after another and described his foolish habits and his vicious alpha-male temperament, in spite of which he had been a wonderful dog and we still missed him so much...suddenly I felt very foolish and made a comment on how he must be tired of listening to us talk endlessly  about a pet.

His reply? That it was preferable than listening to people go on an on about their kids.

So there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Evolutionary Wallflower

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that my my eggs are all frittata by now. I am pretty sure that's the reason the second pregnancy went, literally, to the trash.  I respond well to injected FSH, but I guess I am producing crappy eggs that are unable to implant, even if fertilized.  I have to sit down with the spouse and make him see it too. He is OK with my decision not to do IVF, but I don't think he really understands what it means: Donor eggs, donated embryos, or adoption.

From a Darwinian point of view, my genes are out of the game. But I dislike the term "evolutionary dead-end". It sounds kind of... well, dead.  Evolutionary Wallflower sounds nicer. I know that a wallflower is a dull person, but still, that's better than dead, no?  And flowers are pretty. I came across the term in a book about, of all things, feathers (Thor Hanson, 2011). 

And yet, my sister shares 50 percent of my genes, and each one of her kids  is the genetical equivalent of my grandchild. In a Dawkinsian sense, the game is still on. I just skipped a whole generation, without ever having to worry about poopy diapers, school, violent media, drugs, or setting up a college fund.

I know I am missing also on the fun, the many milestones, the pride and the simple joy of being a parent. That may still come, attached, of course, to the above mentioned worries. Genetics is the only part that is settled.

But I still have the rest of my life to live, and I definitely do not want to play the part of a wallflower in it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What period?

I did not have a period during September, and I was beginning to think that I was not going to get one in October either. PCOS is crazy. I am not taking anything now except for the antidepressants, hence the delay. I knew I had to see a doctor but I chose instead to enjoy my period-less life for a while.

My period came this afternoon, which was good. If I go for too long without one, eventually I end up with a period that lasts several weeks, and I become anemic. Plus, I already have a little acne. I had thought about going to see Dr. Careful and asking her to scan for cysts and also prescribe some Provera. Luckily, I did not have to. I hate calling in and talking to her assistant. I can hear it in my head now: When was your last period? Really? Are you sure you're not pregnant?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blame the victim

Lately Steve Jobs has been all over the news, and rightly so. His death is a tragedy and a loss for all of us. Today the news were, to me, disturbing. I saw several articles in which he was criticized for not handling his cancer properly.

I read all sorts of comments, all in the conditional tense, such as: " if he had ____________ then he would have _______" or, "he should have __________ instead of __________."

We forget that, just because a medical treatment exists for a serious condition, it does not mean that it is our moral obligation to go along with it. It makes sense to me, and probably to everyone else, especially when it comes to cancer. But it is still a personal decision. The man was a business genius, but whatever he did with his personal life, including his health, was his own business.

This touches me personally, although at a smaller scale, because I have decided not to do IVF. And when sharing that decision, the comments I got were very condemning. The general sense is that, regarding infertility, you have to try everything out there before you give up.

I am not afraid of needles or surgery. Heck, I am not even scared of the price (although I should be). It is simply a matter of statistics. Just look at the  the odds. I will turn 42 in December. The implantation rate is reported per age group, and for a 42 year old woman the implantation rate is less than 10%. Of course, when I point that out, they say I should have done  IVF sooner (see? still my fault), even if all my doctors were convinced that IVF was not necessary. Or, they mention a cousin of a neighbor of a friend who had IVF twins at age eleventy something.

Of course, infertility is not a life threatening condition. But still, the general consensus is that if I never achieve motherhood, it will now be my fault.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mommy cards?

I recently came across this ad (forgive the huge size):

What on Earth is a "mommy card"?

Nobody I know has attempted to give me one. Maybe because I do not need to plan on any playdates. Does anyone know how long these have been around? Has anyone actually met someone who uses them?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here we are

My daughter, you were lucky not to come
my son, you were lucky to stay back
a crazy world ruled by crazy men
is no place for births

we will not mourn those absences
we would, of course if you were
among two fires or two bloodsheds
or dutifully preparing to be orphaned

here we are, the old ones, the witnesses
with that unintended privilege
of watching planes and other vultures go by
with lethal messages as trophies

my daughter, you were lucky not to come
my son, you were lucky to stay back
and since we have been orphaned of children
let us drink to your awaiting souls.

                         Mario Benedetti

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wins and Losses

You know what's back? The sex drive. I never knew it was gone. One morning I woke up and thought the spouse looked very handsome and I should make love to him, so I did. Only later did I realize that I had not felt like that in a long time.

I also got back my grooming instincts. I looked down and noticed that I had not shaved my legs in ages, and that the war zone had not been waxed and trimmed properly except for the occasional benefit of Dr. Careful. The worse part is, I have not had a manicure & pedicure in two years. I am not about to have one, because the eczema  is still troubling me, but two years is a long time, isn't it?

One thing that is fading away, I think, is the hope of conceiving and carrying to term a healthy baby.

I always thought hope was a beautiful thing to hang onto during harsh times. But six years of infertility and miscarriage taught me that hope is also a shackle that makes you put yourself through painful procedures and humiliating tests. It takes away your freedom to eat and drink what you like, have sex whenever you want, do whatever exercise you like and treat other medical conditions that you might  have.

Hope has made me move too quickly into the next cycle, accuses me of not trying hard enough, makes me ignore my boundaries, has made me be available at all times for his benefit, insists that I stop spending time with friends and family, insists that I stop participating in leisure interests and, worst of all: seems too good to be true. And what has Hope given me, after putting me through all that? Bad bruises, physical and emotional hurt and even a visit to the ER. Oh, and bitter disappointment. That, too.

Hey, I guess I've been in an abusive relationship with Hope. So if this thing with Hope does not work out and he dumps me, well, good riddance. I'm just not ready to dump him first. I still like hanging out with him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Syringes for a reason

Long ago, my father and I were in a foreign country and he had sinusitis. He sent me to a drugstore to get him a syringe, which he intended to use, as he explained, to shot up warm water into his sinuses and clean them up. Now, I'd never heard of such a revolutionary idea but well, he was my father, he knew best.

So there I was, babbling in a foreign tongue at the drugstore, making a saleslady laugh with my awkward explanations and gestures to explain what I wanted a syringe for. In our defense, where we come from, anyone can buy a syringe at any drugstore.

I failed. They would not sell me a syringe, not even one without a needle. My father had to make do with the antihistamines I got for him instead. I now know that in civilized countries people use a Neti pot for that same purpose.

Well, I don't have a Neti pot. But I have a few extra syringes from my last cycle. I also happened to have a bad combination of a really bad cold and opera tickets that we could not exchange.

So I trusted that memory and injected warm water through my nostrils. I immediately felt better. At the opera, I discreetly blew my nose whenever there was a round of applause and I made it through the night.

You know what people of faith say, I had to hear it over and over through each diagnosis, failed cycle and failed pregnancy:  everything happens for a reason. Does that mean that I went through two unsuccessful FSH cycles just so that I would be able to clean up my sinuses and not miss RenĂ©e Fleming?


Still not convinced.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


This week I was mostly sick in bed with a bad cold. I ended up with my email account open, which resulted in a few friends inviting me to chats. These I gladly accepted because I wanted to catch up with them.

And all the conversations sounded like the convoluted plots of the stupid telenovelas I always hated. It does not help that all conversations were in Spanish.

  • L broke up with his girlfriend of five years, because she finally told him she does not want to have kids with him (she has kids from a previous marriage).
  • K is still unsure on whether she should divorce, though it is clear she and her husband do not love each other anymore. She feels staying together is what is best for their son.
  • M is still fighting for full custody of three kids that treat her like sh*t, have no respect for her and do insulting things that no mother should tolerate.
It all made me think that we all want kids for different reasons, and are willing to do really illogical things for the sake of those kids (ending what was otherwise a good relationship, staying in an awful relationship, going broke in lawyer fees and tolerating horrible teenager behavior).

As for me, complaining about the torture of  artificial hormones, scheduled sex and having stuff shoved up my vagina, all for nothing... do I also sound like a stupid telenovela to them?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Someone like me

Conversation with a friend who is also foreign, speaks a different language than mine and has an entirely different accent from mine:

Me: The squirrels ate all my zucchini.
Friend: You need to get them at night. That's what I do in my garden.
Me: Huh? How?
Friend: Well, they usually come out at night, so I go find them with a flashlight, pick them up by hand and throw them in the trash.
Me: .....
Friend (helpfully): You can wear gloves, if they're too disgusting.
Me (finally getting it): Oh, I meant SQUIRRELS, not SNAILS.

Please don't ask me how on earth I was pronouncing "squirrels" that I made it sound like "snails". Having foreign friends is fun.

This is one friend that I only get to see once in a while. She also went through infertility and totally gets it. She chose to stop treatments and also chose not to adopt. She is now doing everything she can to be happy with her choices, which is not always easy. She does not patronize me and tell me everything will be fine. She does not think I am baby obsessed and I should just move on. She is, in fact, very supportive about my current indecision.

I wish I could see her more often, but she now lives far away. I wish it weren't so.