My first good cry

What you are about to see may tell you more than you need to know about me. Namely, I laugh at the expense of other people. I do. I admit it. I am not ashamed of it. It’s just part of who I am. So when my husband showed me this video, I laughed so hard I cried. And then I cried some more. And then I made lemon bars.

Thanks again for all the love and support. It has propped me up in significant ways. Puppies are not here just yet, but last night I did feel two moving around in my dog’s belly. It was amazing and scary like some alien was going to burst forth from her stomach and hold my hand. Promise puppy pics when they arrive. I figure puppy love is best when shared.

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PS: this one is another video I watched about 25 times today. If you like 80s stuff (Journey) and baseball (the Yankees), this is awesome. Even if you hate the 80s and baseball, this is a pretty solid parody. Go on and jam out with your bad self. I did.

Being Tested

I am a teacher and I am well aware of what a test means. It’s meant to assess my skills, my knowledge, my ability to move forward with what I’ve learned. Of course, with all tests come anxiety and uneasiness. No matter the student. No matter the preparation. Everyone dreads tests. I still remember the bio test I failed junior year of high school. And the motorcycle test I failed while trying to get a new license. But as a teacher, I do believe we have lots to learn from tests. If we are open-minded and willing to embrace where we went wrong, research shows we can move forward not only more quickly but also with great success. So it is with this mindset that I am moving through this IVF. I am on a different protocol. I am going to acupuncture like it’s my job. I am just more at ease with it all. But … there’s always a but …

Sometimes I feel like I am just being tested. Not for my ability to follow directions or shoot medication into my stomach or relax. I am being tested as a human. As a woman. Does anyone else feel like this?

When my mother first had her stroke when I was 23, life as I knew it (within my family) changed. The mother I had up until that point died and I was gifted another similar yet very different mother. Don’t get me wrong, we still had adventures and lots of good fun together, but physically and mentally my mom wasn’t the same. Her left side was paralyzed. She couldn’t work. She required near round the clock care. At the ripe old age of 23, I felt like I was handed a shit deal for I didn’t want a new mom. I liked my old one. But my mother always said, it happens for a reason. I learned to be a good caretaker. I learned patience. I learned to keep things in perspective. I learned that saying I love you at every opportunity is the only way to operate.

When my mother died 3 1/2 years ago, I felt like I was being tested again, but her death tested me in new and different ways. I was 32, married, settled into a job, just thinking about starting my own family. Her death tested my resolve. My ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. I realized that little matters outside of your loved ones. And I realized that nothing short of the death of a dear loved one hurts as bad as losing your mom.

Rightfully so, I feel I have been tested enough. There are times when I think that my mom died before I went through IVF so I would always think … it’s not as bad as when my mom died. But then I also think that going through IVF without your mom just sucks. It’s a whole other kind of test because I am striving to be the one thing I no longer have.

So what’s the come of all this testing? A fellow IVF survivor said it will make me a better mother. It will teach me patience. It will teach me to see the larger picture. And while I agree with her in terms of motherhood, I really think it comes down to one simple thing: I can do anything. Now, I don’t mean to say I’ll be in the Olympics in a few weeks or running for president in the fall, but throw me a challenge, ask me to rise to an occasion, test my ability to persevere, and I will. With a strong body, mind and spirit, I will.

Ultrasound #2 showed eleven follicles growing. There is a leader and two stragglers, but I am responding better than the last time. Phew. I head back on Friday for ultrasound #3, and the doc thinks retrieval will be on Sunday. I will be on stims some two days longer than last time, so let’s hope that helps my wee little eggs ripen up.

**A small, additional note: I re-read my older posts and realized that in my first IVF cycle I only had FOUR follicles in the works. Holy shitballs! I’ve got more than double. I would shout out loud right now, but Hubs is napping on the couch.

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My last supper

This was it. Except mine was reheated leftovers from the night before. I had visions of my last pre-IVF meal being a hot dog with pop chips. It came to me in yoga class. The salt, the deliciousness of a good all-beef hot dog. The guiltless pleasure of pop chips. But when I got home and realized we had leftovers, I decided to dive into those instead. I hate throwing away food. And to go with my tasty reheats: two glorious classes of wine. I had previously promised myself that after a dinner party last Saturday night I would cease drinking alcohol. But then we had an amazing meal on Tuesday, and a crisp white wine was in order. So with the hubby away at guys night chomping on steak and kicking it with some high class bottles of wine, I decided to partake a bit myself. Not the best combination, reheated chinese and merlot, but it was delicious.

I lied in my previous post. Sorry. I actually inject the cetrotide today. Then I have to wait for CD1 at which time I call the doc and head in for my baseline ultrasound. Then the big meds begin. I feel both at ease and emotional about this second try. I now know that there are two outcomes: pregnancy and no-pregnancy. The first time around I expected only one. I know the routine of the meds, the sting of the needle in my ass cheek, the acne that will burst forth onto my face with the strength of ten hormonal adolescents, the weird satisfaction I get from injecting a tiny needle into my belly because it reminds me that I am stronger than I think I am. But then there are the emotions, the unknowns, the moments of grey and waiting and hoping and forward thinking. Those are the things that will drive me into the ground. But at least I know that’s coming.

So, after a fabulous last supper and an amazing last pre-IVF day (which included a 3-run walk-off home run at the baseball game I went to), I’ve decided I’m going to swing away. For you non-basebal lovers, this means I am going to step up to the plate and not worry about where I’m going to hit the ball. I’m not going to bunt. I’m not going to question. I’m going to drive the ball as far as I can and with everything I have. I have taken six months off of running, I have thrown myself into yoga and meditation, I have been drinking my mud martini twice a day (chinese herbs), going to acupuncture, visualizing myself giving birth, seeing Hubby as a father, thinking all the right things. And now, I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to swing away and come up pregnant. There, I said it.

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Some random and unrelated thoughts

1. While reading the Sunday New York Times, I came across an article about the top 200 CEOs in the country. The article was about rising pay in the face of a withering economy, but that’s not what intrigued me. Of the 200 CEOs, only seven were women. SEVEN! That led me to this thought: what the fuck is wrong with this country? Nevermind that I don’t have health coverage for this upcoming cycle of IVF or that insurance covers Viagra but not birth control for some women or that women make up the majority of the population, but of the top 200 CEOs, we are nowhere to be seen. This is not ok. Women earn more college degrees than men yet we make less money. We do more of the household chores yet we work longer work weeks. We are amazing creatures, crazy at times, but we have the power to change this. Are you with me?

2. I was again reading the Sunday times … I’m a teacher, what else can I do on Sundays? The Wall Street Journal doesn’t publish on Sundays … and I came across another article. The article focuses on the Penn State troubles from the fall and wonders where our morals have gone. The line that just made me scream in agreeance was this: We’ve moved from a culture of character to a culture of personality. So true. For me, at least. And so I thought about how my character and the strong character of the other infertiles in my life are so valuable, so powerful and amazing. While we struggle with the baby thing, think of how strong we are. How adaptable we’ve become. How much character we have. Infertility is not for wimps.

3. Last Times mention, I promise. This article really hit home. The title will tell you why: Think Before You Breed. This article even got my hubby fired up as it raised the question of why people ask us why we don’t have children. I would never ask someone why she did have kids, yet I have been asked time and time again why not? Why is that ok? Isn’t that the most personal question you could possibly ask a couple? Yet why is that question socially ok to ask? Ladies, we have work to do. I’m starting a campaign against the “why not?”

4. If you want to see a fabulous movie that will make you cry and make you laugh and make you realize that companionship with good friends and good lovers trumps all else, see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Not only are some of Britains best actors and actresses in the film, but it’s also a great story that will lighten your day. Promise. And it’ll make you want to travel. And laugh. And think … I want to age like Judy Dench. And, when is the next season of Downton Abbey going to start?

I inject myself with cetrotide on Thursday, and then IVF #2 begins … it’s almost go time.

 

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Imagination Cul-de-sac

I am not crazy, but today I heard something profound. It didn’t come in yoga or in some great piece of literature. Rather, it came from a 45 second clip I heard on NPR. Some musician was talking about the power of the imagination and how we can imagine the path before us. The problem with most of us, he said, is that we’re in an imagination cul-de-sac. This got me thinking. I don’t believe that everything I want is out there. I’m not pessimistic; I’m just a pragmatist. I also don’t believe I can “call in” everything I want if I focus hard enough. I’m not lazy; I just know that bad shit does happen to good people … like me and all the other infertile girls I know. So why did this idea of an imagination cul-de-sac strike a cord? Well, I think it did because I’ve been in an infertility cul-de-sac for more than two years. And I’m ready to break out. I know that this desire to break out comes with some risk. My breakout might include kids or it might not. Both options come with their own pros and cons, but, regardless, I’m just tired of where I am. I’ve put a lot of things on hold for our baby-making efforts. We’ve put a lot of time and energy and money into it, too, and we’re ready to move. (Not to go all English teacher on my readers, but this is what James Joyce focused most of his work: stuckness.) We’re ready to be somewhere else. Aren’t you?

Here’s to a new road map, a new street, a new neighborhood. Here’s to a road that doesn’t involve a turnaround or a dead end. Here’s to the certainty that anything, everything is better than being stuck in the land of if. Here’s to using the word when.

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Practicing Stillness

After our January IVF failed, my dad told me my body just needed more time to become a mother. I had just finished my first ultra-marathon not four weeks before starting stims (I did have the race of a lifetime!!), and while I told myself this wouldn’t impact my IVF cycle, sometimes I wonder if it did. My dad’s not a doctor, but he questioned my body’s ability to move from marathoner to mother in such a short time. So, I changed my training plan and moved into yoga with the hopes of helping my body move into mother mode. And it was in what has become one of my favorite classes (Yin Yoga) that I was reminded how important it is to practice stillness.

For me, stillness comes when my husband and I sit down to eat dinner. This might sound wacky, but it is at the table that we find silence and a moment of togetherness unlike the rest of our day: we read the newspaper. Sure some people see this act as an act of avoidance — no need to talk to each other when you can read the newspaper — but in fact it’s one of the moments when we share more than ever. “Listen to this …” or “Can ¬†you believe …” are the common phrases of the meal as we share what we read. Of course those moments are punctuated with silences. But those silences are not uncomfortable or awkward; rather, they’re the welcome moments of respite from a hectic day.

I am constantly thinking about finding that moment or two of quiet, that moment when all thought fades away, and I am just left to be. That is what I loved about running. The clarity. The silence of my mind. The clean sweat not just from my pores but the sweat from the clutter of my day. In finding a new and less physically stressful way of moving into that stillness I’m hoping to be better prepared for the mother part of my life. The marathoner will return, she is my best self, but for now I will embrace stillness in the yoga studio and in the small corners of my day. I will practice it daily and give into it with grace. From stillness I know I can only grow stronger.

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Struggle Hierarchy

This has been a tough few days for me. OK, extend it to a week. I found out my oldest friend, I have known her since were were 12-year-old campers, is pregnant with baby #2. “It was just so easy to conceive,” she remarked after I commended her on the timing. Babe #2 will come almost exactly 2 years after Babe #1.

Fast forward five days and my brother calls to tell me he and his wife is expecting in early September. After some “struggles” they finally conceived. Now, my brother has been in the know about my issues, so he was reluctant to say anything, but seeing as I’m visiting him in a month, this could be hard to hide. Regardless, it was like a kick in the stomach, again.

I’ve always believed that in some way women (and partners, too) pay for pregnancy and a baby. It may not be money but it could be pain, suffering, time, you name it. My friend mentioned above had a hellacious 3-day labor battle that ended in an emergency c-section and every imaginable abdominal infection known to woman. Awful. But, really, is that that bad? And my brother told me he and my sister-in-law struggled. They couldn’t conceive, my sister-in-law is a carrier for cystic fibrosis and a few other genetic gems, and so weren’t sure if she had any good eggs. Obviously this is not the case. Again, was that really that hard?

I realize I sound like a cold-hearted bitch, but what IVF survivor hasn’t thought, I’ve got it worse than anyone else. My pain, my struggle puts yours to shame. This is where the hierarchy of struggle has reared its ugly head into my life and I am in the throes of trying to shake it. Forget it. Ignore it. I feel awful for my thoughts. I feel ungrateful for the gifts some of the most important people in my life have been given. I feel like I should be a better friend and sister. But in the in-between moments of the last few days, I’ve slipped back into the horrible area of self-doubt and anger. Why me? Why us? What the fuck? Can everyone else get pregnant but me?

So what good can come from this? I hope that this entire experience, when it’s all said and done I have a kid in my arms, reminds me to keep things in perspective. To handle the good and the bad with grace and gratitude. To not panic when my kid goes down in a blaze of glory on the swing set. What are some stitches when compared to the pain and agony and hell of infertility? Sure someone else’s kid is going to be smarter and cleaner and faster, but does it matter? No. Well, at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself right now.

I’m bringing back AADFB protocol. That’s All About Doping For Baby. Put the pregnancy blinders on, and let’s make own baby … or go crazy trying!

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