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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spinning

Today, I am about 19 CD or approx 7 DPO. I feel weird . . .


I am so tired. This morning I was also inarguably nauseous though that subsided by about 11:00am. I hadn’t eaten any breakfast but that is not part of my typical morning routine and I am certainly not someone who suffers from nausea unless I’ve taken a multi-vitamin on an empty stomach (which I hadn’t). Perhaps these are red wine withdrawl symptoms? Last night, I threw my phone down in a fit of temper, prompting my husband to sneak up to our bedroom and leave me to my tantrum. He had to TEXT me good night and that he loved me, that’s how unapproachable I was. Finally, I have been teary and emotional all day. The teary, emotional part is not so unusual – but I can’t assign it to anything right now; it’s just a pervasive, floating sadness that sticks to anything that enters into my sphere of influence. Otherwise life is as stable as life can be.

So here I am, spinning that same old 45. Am I? Am I not? When can I test? How will I know? What if it is? What if it isn’t?

Seriously? I haven’t learned that that is fruitless? Why are we, as humans, so susceptible to running the same mental game that never got us anywhere in the first place? Like maybe this time, if I put enough angst into it, I can discern some fine nuance I hadn’t ever thought of before. I guess it’s kind of like my scardy-cat Chloe - because I know she high tails it at the mere suggestion of possible danger, I never have to worry about her. She does quite enough worrying to keep herself out of the jaws and tires of her natural predators. 

At least I’m not running to Google every half hour. I’m done with research (till the next bend in the road, I’m not Superwoman for God’s sake). That is the benefit of having decided that this is the last pregnancy and to have committed to an avenue of conception. The rest is out of my control and I am now (barely) managing my anxiety by seeking commiseration in all of your blogs.

I am looking forward to the last 2 days of work when my boss will be leaving for the long weekend. It's as good as a holiday for me too!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fighting to conceive

My window of fertility has officially passed and I am ...... 16 days into my cycle (I don't have the lingo down. Is that 16CD?)

We TTC 3 out of the 5 days of fertility. As usual, on the day I was predicted to be most fertile, Jason and I had a blowup that made any act of intimacy unlikely. This is the THIRD time during a TTC month that a fight has ensued during ovulation time.

The first time was during a vacation in Spain, and hubby was tired and grumpy in our unairconditioned hotel room. He wasn't in the mood or something, and I couldn't understand why I had to prod him through the necessary exercises when he KNEW it was on the agenda. Did I really have to tease it out of him? Convince him that time is of the essence in these matters? Remind him that it might mean we'd have to repeat the whole thing next month? Remind him that my eggs are not getting younger? We did not conceive that month.

Same scenario second and third time. Husband being coy, tired, inexplicably resistant. Me feeling resentful that I have to cajole and persuade him. Then we fight about something inconsequential of which I have no recollection, and we end up not having sex. Despite these monthly histrionics, we have managed to get pregnant three times ... but Good God!

This month when the fight broke out, I stamped downstairs to the living room couch, unable to bear the sound of his breathing, and with tears streaming down my face, wondered how we got to this place AGAIN. I could no longer chalk it up to fatigue or some other such elusive cause. I think, plain and simple, the full weight of our fear, anxiety, and hope is focused like a laser on the only thing we are able to DO with respect to becoming parents. Having unprotected sex is the only thing we actually ACT on; all the rest is completely and utterly out of our control. In other words, because we generally are able to conceive, sex without contraception is now the traditional moment we open ourselves up to a world of potential pain. And apparently, as a couple, we don't shoulder the stress very gracefully.

So I marched right back up the stairs to our bedroom, turned on the light, and insisted that we address the fact that, for the third time, we have fought while trying to conceive. There were no big apologies and no earth-shattering breakthroughs. We just spoke our feelings to one another - good and bad - and acknowledged the big ass elephant in the room. We didn't have sex that night and I went back to the couch (which is very comfy). But I wasn't really angry at him and I don't think he was angry at me. We were both just tired to our bones and scared to death; we both understood why we were snarling at one another.

I've got to say that in reading other blogs, I don't hear too much about dissonance in others' relationships. But infertility has been hard on our relationship. There is a lot of tension and sadness and guilt and stress and, of course, we usually end up taking it out on each other. I love my husband very much, and I don't think of us as people who fight a lot. I certainly don't want to conceive a child under circumstances that don't include love and tenderness and intimacy. All I can hope, if this month is a wash, is that we go into the next month more self-aware and more gentle with one another.

But I do have to cut us some slack 'cause this infertility shit ain't for the faint-hearted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A VEIL OF CALM: Part 2

Well - the second portion of the post was to have been a thoughtful essay on waiting ... and how I am absolutely horrible at it. Worse than you, I promise. It's pathological. But I'll save that for later and just skip to the main point of my unwritten essay to explain that the second reason I am feeling calmer is that O-Day is upon us.

I started my period last Monday and will be ovulating in earnest anywhere between tomorrow and Friday. Jason went on a white-water rafting vacation with his buddy; he's been gone since last Thursday. I instructed him that he needed to blow a wad or two while on vacation so that he's not delivering old sperm tomorrow.

So ... the first waiting is over - to be followed by approximately infinite periods of waiting. Waiting for a pee stick. Waiting for an ultrasound. Waiting to make a phone call with good news/bad news. Waiting for test results. Waiting, and waiting and waiting and waiting for life to take a right turn or a left turn.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A VEIL OF CALM: Part 1

I am finally calm…..er. A couple of things have happened this week that seem to be the cause of this uncharacteristic serenity. I’ll split this into 2 parts because you all have lives and didn’t sit down to read a book. :)

PART I: The Decision (insert medival trumpet announcement)

Jason and I have agreed that we will try one more time, but that this will be the last time. It took us a long time to get past the paralyzing fear and emotional mudslinging to hammer out the details – although truthfully, the mudslinging was part and parcel of communicating which parts of this were non-negotiable for either party. I don’t suppose ours was a textbook example of “how to communicate with your spouse to make important decisions,” but it was our messy, human version of grappling with life’s cruel bag of tricks.

Frankly, I didn’t know how we’d come to a mutually agreeable decision, even wondering if our relationship would survive the decision at all. But I guess between my insistence on talking, his insistence that we’d make it through this, the specialists, the therapist, the tears, the books, the blogs, supportive friends, my lovingly prostheletyzing mother (who insists prayer will deliver miracles, which begs the question, what did her prayers produce the last three times? – but I digress), my computer scientist father (who delivered a comforting statistical analysis via email*) and lots of chemical crutches – we stumbled through the fog of disappointment and grief and detailed the following plan:


1. Au Natural:
We will just go the natural route since none of the physical or genetic assessments warrant other measures. More specifically, we ruled out IVF for a combination of reasons – mostly financial and emotional. We decided we could not endure the process without absolute assurance that the result would be positive. I mean, I’d rather have my entire back tattooed than go through even one IVF cycle and come out the same way I went in – less $30,000.

I just don’t have it in me … though I did have to consider long and hard whether IVF was a test of how badly I wanted a child. But I don’t think it matters, nor is it even possible to determine, how BADLY I want to be a mother – how the fuck do you measure that? Probably some sort of machine called a guiltometer. Fuck that. What I really needed to consider was what I thought I could endure. Because that is where everyone must draw the line at some point if they continue to fail to conceive. What can one realistically endure before there is significant or even irreparable damage? I am of the opinion that it is all too possible to fail to draw the line, and the costs can be astronomical – physical damage, emotional breakdown, failed relationships, financial distress, damaged career, etc. etc. I knew, even after my first miscarriage, that having a child was not an “at all costs” proposition for me; but deciding where to draw the line has still been a bitch of a decision. I am actually rather thankful that my husband is less inclined than I am to keep trying ad infinitum because I might have pushed myself beyond reasonable limits out of sheer anger. Though initially painful to embrace, I can actually now look forward to the end of this heartwrenching journey either way – with child or without.

Our recourse will be pre-natal vitamins, magical baby aspirin, and a sensible diet.

2. What Constitutes a Pregnancy? 

You may wonder why this is even a debatable issue. You’re pregnant when you’re pregnant, right? Well, not in my mind. In my mind, there are soooooo many shades of grey.

Are you pregnant as soon as the sperm hits the egg? If there was a diagnostic test for that, would fertilization constitute a pregnancy even if the fertilized egg never made it out the tunnel of love (fallopial tube)? Is it when the embryo implants? Or rather, are we “in play” when you see a heartbeat?

I realize that technically, every one of these scenarios constitutes a pregnancy. But back in the day, all of these states of pregnancy would have been completely unverifiable-a mere inkling. I don’t even think I know how you definitively diagnosed a pregnancy before HCG measurements, though I think in the 60’s it might have involved rabbits.

This issue came up because I thought that perhaps I’d feel cheated if this go round, I turned up with a chemical pregnancy or something and miscarried so early that it would almost seem like a late period. But there are just too many crazy scenarios to anticipate, and the whole thing was becoming an exercise in mental masturbation. Better to aim for clarity. So pee stick calls the shots; when the pee stick/s (unlimited number allowed) indicates we are pregnant, that constitutes the fourth pregnancy. Whether the pregnancy is determined to be a chemical pregnancy, a missed miscarriage, or another blighted ovum, there will be no more tries. Final match, final set, final point. 


3. Statistics are NOT our friends:

Finally, we have decided that we will skip the screening blood panels and jump straight to CVS, the earliest diagnostic test available to determine the chromosomal health of the fetus. This is important, I think, in our case since our last fetus was lost as a result of a chromosomal abnormality and I suspect that the first 2 were lost for the same reason. Plus, I don’t trust the HUGE margins of statistical error on those screening tests. With our triploidy fetus, the screening indicated that there was a 98% chance that the fetus was healthy. If we’d decided NOT to do the amnio based on those numbers, the pregnancy could have been much more complicated and emotionally draining. Luckily, the decision was taken out of our hands naturally before the amnio was even conducted.

---------------

As you MUST have gathered by now, I am not a creature that likes to leave any rock unturned. I am vigilant, obsessive, cautious and detailed. A true Capricorn if I actually believed that stuff. My husband is a different beast, he floats through life and is happy about 75% of the time to let life just happen to him … or so it seems to me. I have yet to figure out HOW he made the decision to try once more; it certainly wasn’t by reading or blogging or googling. Maybe his brain worked on it while he was bolting together the jeep he’s rebuilding or maybe he thought about being a father as he planted his vegetable garden -a passion he shares with his deceased father.

I don’t mean to sell him short. When he really wants something, he has the wherewithal to make it happen. A dive course, rebuilding a car, taking dance classes to win me over (he had me convinced he LOVED ballroom dancing, insisting we get together and “practice.” I am so naive). As it seems to function, ours are two mutually unintelligible, but complementary approaches to life. In the most clich├ęd way, I think we balance each other out. I am sure our decision regarding children reflects the best of both worlds. Despite his inattention to his toenails and his 2 taxidermied ducks-on-a-wall, I am lucky to have him. ;)

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* Email from my dad:

"Suppose you decide to try 4 more times, in future (Hope you are willing to look that far ahead).

What's the probability of success in at least one of those 4 times?
Probability of first failure = 0.35
Probability of first and second tries failing = 0.35 x 0.35 = 0.1225
Probability of 3 failed attempts = 0.35 x 0.35 x 0.35 = 0.042875
Probability of 4 failed attempts = 0.35 x 0.35 x 0.35 x 0.35 = 0.01500625
The probability of at least one success in those 4 attempts = 1 - 0.01500625 = 0.985

Hope Jason likes these odds :-) "


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unadulterated me

It's Sunday which means that tomorrow is Monday and I have to trudge through another week. I just want to sleep until this is all over because when I am awake, all I can think about is what is wrong with my life, including (of course), but not limited to, children. Relationship, house, job, money. It could all be worse, I should be thankful for what I have. Blah blah blah blah. I can't handle positive thinking.

Every waking moment is a thought that leads to fear. I could be thinking of kittens which would lead me to thought of my dogs who are outside in their pen right now and weren't exercised properly this weekend. So if I can't take care of a dog properly, how am I going to take care of a child? Perhaps I'm just not cut out for parenthood.

OR

I'll be reading a really good book which i'd like to recommend to book club, but that makes me think of all of the invitations I have not returned because I don't want to invite the stress of giving a charming party and being a charming host to people who have achieved more in their careers or who have more beautiful houses.

OR

I'll think about writing a post for this blog then balking because I spend all day in front of the computer and it'll take me an hour to get my thoughts together (this fabulous post has taken me a 1/2 hour so far). Who cares what I'm going through, what...

christ.

I can't piece together a correctly-spelled word let alone a post. Excuse my pity-party - but I am going to put it up because it is the stark reality of me in this moment and I didn't start this blog to hide things.

I don't know the way out of this fear and sadness. That's all. I don't know the way out. I don't know what to do. I just want it to be over.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Relief of Rain

For the past week, there has been an insufferable heat wave in the South that has made everyone grumpy and cantankerous - including me and my husband. He's the incomprehensible sort that needs the heat to be on 90 degrees in the winter, but 75 degrees in the summer. I'll never understand the discrepancy, but suffice it to say that the man is GRUUUUUUMPY when he doesn't get enough sleep; and the temperature in our house has been inconsistent with sleep.

July was a rough month for us all around. This was the month baby number 2 was due, a fact I remember only because 2 babies -whose mothers got pregnant around the same time I did - were born this month. Also, my husband and I have been to 2 therapy sessions together, trying to sort through the "TTC again" question. I'm an old hand at therapy - he is not. In fact, he had never been to therapy before. But we had reached such a place of breakdown that we couldn't wade through our emotions without a mediator.

You see, since the last miscarriage (#3), I bounced back into hope pretty quickly, while, despite agreeing to proceed with specialists and diagnostic procedures, he stayed in a pretty firm "over-my-dead-body" position (or so it felt). He was not willing to take a firm stance either way, and I figured he just needed more time to sort through his feelings and regroup from the last loss. Now - I am a fairly emotional woman (could that be redundant?) and he is a pretty stereotypical man - so when it comes to talking about his thoughts and emotions, I get the barest of bare bones delivered piecemeal and only at my prompting . . . and it usually leaves me wanting more information.

But knowing that Grief doesn't bend to anyone's timeline, I tried really really hard to give him room to breath. I tried to focus on my own healing instead - visit doctors, get test results, pay the bills, update my resume and online portfolio, proceed with our plans for an addition, go to my own therapy sessions, etc.

But when the last test result came in (thromobophilia panel: normal; karyotpye: normal; hysterosalpingogram: normal) I was ready to have a "come to Jesus" talk. By then, it had been 2 months since the miscarriage - a.k.a. 2 full cycles/2 spent eggs. I needed something more than, "Let's just wait till we get more information," and, "I have some thinking to do." But all he was able to offer was more of the same.

At this point, it gets way messy and super-emotional. Basically, I felt tricked and betrayed because I had always been up-front about wanting a family from the very beginning of our relationship and I felt he was unilaterally making decisions about my life without allowing me any say in the matter. He thought I wasn't giving him enough credit for the three times we DID try and that I was giving him an ultimatum - either I get what I want or I am leaving. We were basically in "me" land and needed a map back to "we" land. So off to therapy we went.

Our therapist visits have been fruitful and have begun to accomplish what I hoped - the ability for us to HEAR one another and try to compromise by sacrificing some of what each of us wants. I think we will try again (my needs), but this will be our last time (his needs). Ugh - life is hard.

The rain finally came today and the relief everywhere is palpable. Humans, plants and animals alike are breathing sigs of relief. I'm hoping the rain foreshadows some relief on our lives as well.